The only thing predictable about spring weather here is that it’s completely unpredictable. Within the last month, we’ve had some days that we were lucky to get above freezing and other days in the record-breaking mid-80s. Back on March 25, we had snow…
…and then nearly 3 weeks with no rain.
Despite all of the extremes, though, we’re pretty much where we normally are as far as bloom times. The woodies haven’t leafed out yet, but the early spring bulbs are making a good show…
…and the hellebores have been gorgeous.
A few other blooms of interest include plantain-leaved sedge (Carex plantaginea):
…deliciously fragrant winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima):
…and ‘Orange Encore’ witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia).
Technically, this ‘Frosty Knight’ sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is in bloom, but I bought it that way last week, so it doesn’t really count as a garden flower. It will probably be dead by the next Bloom Day (I don’t have much luck with these fancy new introductions, though sometimes I can’t resist trying), so I figured I’d show it now.
As far as flowers go, that’s pretty much it for here. If you want to see how beautiful a spring garden can look here in southeastern Pennsylvania, I highly recommend popping over to Carolyn Walker’s blog, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens. It’s where I go when I need a good dose of primroses, spring phlox, and other early-blooming beauties.
Inspired by Carolyn’s spring spectacular, and by those of other Bloom Day participants, I’m determined to make more effort to bring more early color to my own garden. To that end, I’ve started a lot of columbines from seeds shared with me by fellow bloggers last year and this year (thanks, Kim, Jasmine, and Barbara!), and it looks like last year’s batch will be in flower very soon. And a few weeks ago, I dug a good-sized new area and filled it some spring bloomers that had accumulated in my holding beds, including ‘Kumson’ forsythia (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana) and flowering quinces (Chaenomeles speciosa), underplanted with several dozen seedlings and divisions of my favorite hybrid hellebores as well as snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), and forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica).
Granted, it doesn’t look like much now, but I’m very much anticipating its show next year (and really hoping that the scarlet and orange quinces don’t flower until the hellebores are nearly over). In the meantime, I’m much more interested in seeing how the nearby beds I added last fall are going to look this year. One is just behind this spring section, and the other two are further down, closer to the road. (You can tell the new areas by the fresher-looking mulch.)
There’s one more “empty” space in the middle there. Once I get a large bed dug to incorporate the Japanese maples and viburnum growing there, I’ll be nearly done linking all of the baby shrubs and trees I planted in this area a number of years ago.
One of last month’s projects, the alpaca path, got rather rumpled during the long spell of dry, windy weather, but it has settled well since we finally got some rain. It’s still going to take several more weeks for the plants to start smoothing out the edges.
In the meantime, I’ve been filling in some of the bare spots with the results of this year’s first shearing sessions. Now Duncan, don’t look so outraged. You may look a little silly, but you were happy enough to get some air on your chin and neck when it was hot last week.
No, I didn’t actually cut his ears off, though it wouldn’t be my fault if I did. You’d think he’d stand very still when I’m using scissors around his head, instead of trying to spit in my face. Daniel looks very cheerful and innocent here, but he’s even more squirmy.
At the moment, they have a new pasture ornament to distract them. More on that next month, I hope.
Otherwise, things don’t look very exciting here: a lot of potential, but not much action.
Above, the very first plants collected for this year’s new book project!
There are still several half-done garden projects, a few areas I haven’t gotten around to tidying yet, and a whole new round of weeding to do.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work still left to do, but when I start feeling like I can’t handle it, I visit my friend Clark’s blog, Hortus Horrei, to see what new project he’s tackling in his own garden. If anyone has a reason to feel overwhelmed, it’s him. Try to imagine what it would be like to lose your home, your livelihood, and your garden within the space of a few hours, and you’ll have some idea of what happened to him on May 20th last year, when the first of a series of severe earthquakes hit northern Italy and destroyed the castle he was living in.
In the last year, he’s had to find a new place to live; re-establish his business (Reading Retreats in Rural Italy); move thousands of books as well as paintings, plants, and his goats; and sow as many seeds as he can get his hands on to start creating a new garden from scratch. If he can do all that, I can surely manage to handle the few areas that are still left to weed and plant here. You can follow Clark’s adventures at his new place in The Hortus Horrei of Corte Eremo, Mantua. And if you’re one for travel and want to spend some time in Italy immersed in books and plants, check out his cultural association’s website at Corte Eremo.
Clark usually participates in Bloom Day too, so if you visit his blog , you may see some of what’s currently coming up in his new garden in northern Italy. You can find links to lots of other mid-April gardens in Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens. But before you go, I just have to share this stunning example of redundant labeling. I suppose “Contains: Peat” didn’t fill enough space but “Contains: Peat Harvested from Fragile Ecosystem” was a little too off-putting.