Thursday, December 18, 2014

Spring Preview

With our December thaw so far most of the beds still have a covering of snow, but here and there the perennial plants are putting on new growth to be ready when spring finally arrives.  I am encouraged to see this kind of growth at the base of my perennial flax.  This plant put on quite show last summer.  I can close my eyes and remember the beautiful blue flowers but it's a lot more fun to actually see them.  Those delicate blue flowers that sway in the slightest breeze that open in the morning  and drop their petals to the ground before noon on a hot day, are a delight!

Ed's Mammoth Pink chrysanthemum is sending new growth in all directions.  If this continues we will have plenty of these gorgeous dark pinks flowers to spread around.  It almost feels like money in the bank!

The Doone Valley lemon thyme  looks perfect peeking out from the snow.  The fragrant and tasty green and yellow leaves are the stars here.  In the cold their fragrance is somewhat subdued, but if you rub a small sprig with your hands the aroma of spring is right there just waiting!

I failed in my search to find a picture of the sweet clove scented flowers that remind me of the fragrance of the carnations I remember from my youth.  I would be really tempted by the carnations at the checkout in the but that aroma seems to be missing and without that the flowers have lost their appeal for me.  I'll have to wait for these to bloom!

New Autumn Joy shoots are pushing up through last year's stems. It's kind of amazing since they don't bloom until September.  They will wait right where they are until the warmer weather.  Planted in the bed down by the road, the  big round mound of leaves get larger every year. The flowers are loved by bees, and Ed uses the dried stalks to make trees on his train layout. 

Of course some of our plants show absolutely nothing above ground at this point.  That doesn't prove a thing. Nature has to save some surprises for later. It's part of the fun!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December Thaw

Our recent weather has not been kind to us or our plants.  Freezing rain falling on frozen ground quickly created a substantial coating of ice.  Trees remained only wet as the wood was not yet frozen. Electric power was uninterrupted but the roads were a nightmare.  More snow fell and soon it looked like winter.  This morning's warm air finally cleared the driveway and most of the snow cover elsewhere is gone.  Ever present clouds keep it gray, wet and depressing outside but a walk about was definitely in order.  Geese are still here and their honks filled the air as they flew north just above the river.

Any walk out of doors of necessity starts near the arbutus transplanted close to the house several years ago.  Temporarily removing the protective wire cage allows this native plant to appear wild and free.  A hungry rabbit was seen nearby and the cage was replaced following a quick look and a picture.  These buds look ready for an early spring opening.  We will not miss that.  The rabbit shall not find food here.

A walk up the lane took me to the arbutus transplanted this year.  They too live under a wire cage.  A larger cage, nestled in a low stone wall, is on the to do list for spring.  Spacing between the small transplants seemed adequate at the time but a natural location under a white pine tree and frequent watering when rainfall was scant resulted in impressive growth.  There is still no sign of new plants from the seed produced here but we expect to see new plants after their seasonal period of cold.

This appearance of wintergreen is totally wild.  Neither purchased plants nor transplants have survived my attempts to help this plant reestablish itself here.  Fallen leaves from the birch tree litter the ground but the wintergreen leaves remain above them and their life process continues without my interference.  That is as it should be.

Cardinal flower is a native plant that grows here only in a garden.  This clump of daughter plants is seriously overcrowded and without division will likely choke itself out.  Six brown stems identify this as a single two year old plant that multiplied to six plants this year.  Next year will see this clump try to support the growth of up to thirty-six overcrowded  plants already vying for space.  The way that cardinal flower multiplies may be a factor in why attempts to reestablish this plant in the wild have failed.  The tenacity of the escaped pasture grasses may simply overpower the slight native making reproduction be seed impossible.  Spring will find a dozen pots of cardinal flower waiting on the stone wall until the weather settles so that they can be planted out.