Sunday, April 23, 2017

Still spring

The temperatures have cooled a bit, which is a plus for the spring bloomers. My SO and I and Watson (the dog) went for a wildflower walk at Bicentennial Woods a couple of weeks ago. No pics but we (the dog and/or I) did bring home a couple of ticks. Ugh. Last Thursday we stopped at Foster Park between rain showers, to view the tulips. Again, no pics, except for this redbud tree.

I wish I knew the history of this old thing. I've seen redbuds with thick trunks, but nothing like this convoluted writhing mass of limbs. I'm surprised the uniqueness was not pruned out of it a long time ago.

On the home front, my SO and I spent hours in the backyard yesterday, trying to get things under control. He does the heavy lifting, literally. I keep reconfiguring the raised beds - this time, doubling the height of the concrete block ones - which I would not be able to manage on my own. He also cut down the 'Wichita Blue' junipers, two of which turned incredibly ugly, two of which never grew larger. I joke that he makes my gardening dreams come true, which really is not a joke at all. His help keeps me from succumbing to gardener's despair.

We both tackled weeds, weeds, and more weeds, mostly this creeping crud that is able to leap raised beds in a single bound and spread across the top of mulch, rooting all the way. I don't like to use herbicides, but am wondering if spraying along the fence will send the poison spreading through this carpet of crap like a computer virus through a LAN. It would be an interesting experiment. (Oh, wait. I just looked up some info on ground ivy, a.k.a. creeping Charlie. It says it is not affected by broadleaf herbicides except dicamba. Hmmm.)

Inside, I have been starting seeds, better late than never. At least I'm late enough that many can spend time outside almost immediately. Less mess in the house.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April is busting out all over

This has been a great spring for early blooming shrubs and trees (with a few exceptions like forsythia and magnolias). I confess the redbuds are my favorite anyway. So pink!

And it is not just in my yard but it's everywhere, even along the edges of woodlands. Which brings up a question I have: ornamental pears have proven to be invasive, which is bad of course, but no one complains about volunteer redbuds, perhaps because they are native?

My fruit trees are not that old, but are making a great effort this year. Top photo is apple blossoms, bottom is cherry.

The serviceberry is already past its prime, but the sand cherry out front surprised me this morning. I hope the neighbor across the street comments on it so I can remind him that there used to be two in his yard. I missed them, so I planted my own.

My experiment of tulips in containers has not been very successful, or at least not what I envisioned. The bulbs were free, and maybe the species is not the best for container growing. Or maybe it was the weather or something about my technique. The colors are gorgeous, but the stems are short. It looks like many will not bloom at all. I can't even blame this failure on rabbits.

I have to admit I am not taken with the fact these particular tulips will not bloom again. For all the effort involved with fall bulbs, I would rather plant something that comes back year after year. I wonder how perennial tulips would perform in containers?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

More time for fun

For over 20 years, I've pooh-poohed the need for a riding lawn mower, primarily because mowing was part of my exercise protocol. The past couple of years, though, it seemed like too much effort for too little return. Last summer my son did all the mowing, but he is not available this year. So I bit the bullet and purchased a Toro 'Timecutter'.

Given all the stuff I need to mow around, I opted for a zero turn mower. It's a little tricky to learn to maneuver, but I anticipate it will suit my needs. I still use the Personal Pace Toro for narrow margins and the string trimmer for up-close-and-personal work, but this 32" beast will greatly reduce the time spent on lawn care, which means more time for actual gardening.

I have three redbud trees, all the same type, all from the same source, all planted in the backyard at the same time, yet they each perform a little differently. Two are close to the house, one near the back fence. This one at the southwest corner of the TV room has the densest and the most intense blooms this year. The other two are pretty but do not have the visual impact of this over-achiever. I don't think of my yard as having micro-climates; apparently I am wrong.

The serviceberry has never achieved its full potential, thanks to rabbits that girdled it its first winter here. It looks more shrubby than treelike. As long as there is not a heavy frost, it blooms nicely. The robins strip the berries before I even notice them, which is okay. The cherry and apple trees are blooming too, although scantily. If I pay attention, I may get to the cherries before the birds.

The weather this spring is predictably unpredictable, with an unusual number of rainbows accompanying the April showers. I have yet to spot a pot of gold.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

First customer of the year

I took a little drive to Spencerville a couple of weeks ago, to pick up some shrubs from Riverview Native Nursery. With the erratic weather, part of me wanted to GET GOING, while the saner part of my brain reminded me it was not even April yet. But by purchasing these shrubs early, I got the pick of the crop (so to speak).

It's impossible to tell from the photo that I have a smooth hydrangea, a chokeberry, and a spicebush.

Last summer I whacked away at the forsythia, cutting two to the ground, leaving one for early spring yellow. I assumed the scanty blossoming was due to the severe pruning, but as I drive around town, no one's forsythia looks good this year. I blame the weather.

Daffodils rarely fail, although they may flop a bit. The blooming rate is random, too, instead of the usual steady march through the varieties.

Gardening rarely lacks surprises, but I feel like I can't count on anything anymore.