Thursday, April 30, 2009

The earliest daffodils are beginning to fade, but later blooming varieties are taking their place. It is amazing how quickly we go from bare ground that looks dead to an amazing show of color. I often wish I could stop time briefly when plants are at their prime, as it seems that there isn't enough time to enjoy them and then they are gone for another year. The daffodils have been especially lovely this year. There is also Bloodroot and Pulmonaria in bloom and the Bleeding Heart is just starting to bloom.

As I start working in the garden I find that one of my favorite garden tools is an old butcher knife that I got at a second hand store for 50¢. It works much better than the forked weed diggers for getting the weeds out root and all, and I also use it to loosen the soil when I am planting something not too large. With its long thin blade I just plunge it into the soil, give it a twist and the weeds come right out, or I use the same motion to loosen up the soil in a planting hole. If a large planting hole is needed I still rely on my shovel, but the knife is great for smaller jobs.

Last week we had to relocate a snake that was having its lunch at the edge of a small plastic pond we have near our deck. It seems the snakes find this a fine place to pick up a frog dinner. I don't mind having snakes around, but once they discover the pond I toss them into a pillow case and take them some distance away to release them. We have drained the pond, cleaned it and refilled it, so we are ready for the season. There are at least two frogs living in it right now. One year we had a population explosion of small frogs, and at one point I counted 27 in and around the pond. It reminded me of a Biblical plague, though they were well behaved and caused no problems. I wonder how many of them became a meal for a snake. 

It will soon be time to treat the plants that are deer favorites with Repellex. More about that next time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Well, the snow and ice are gone (mostly), the daffodils would like one good shower and are about ready to spring into action, and we are back from the land of sunshine. As I look at the garden I realize how nice the areas look where I cleaned up in the fall. I know that it is recommended that we leave some of this dead foliage in place to provide insulation during the winter, but I must admit that it seems that the snow did a fine job of insulating, and it is great to look out now and see those areas looking so neat. I did do some trimming of dead leaves from my Lamb's Ear and a bit of pruning, but one large section of the garden looks really neat. The rest, by comparison, seems to be screaming for attention. I think I have my work cut out for me. 

Today will be a good day to plant the pansies in baskets and put them on our entry stairs. I have never understood why they call people who are wishy washy pansies. If there was ever a hardy plant that can withstand harsh weather it is the pansy. Their faces are smiling come rain, snow or cold weather. 

I also have many geraniums to pot up. Last winter when I trimmed my mature plants I used the trimmings to start new plants. They are looking great now and are ready to be put into individual pots. My geraniums seem to thrive on neglect and do much better when I keep them fairly dry. My problem, when I go away, is plant sitters seem to want to water them too much and they get pretty droopy. I sometimes forget to water them for a couple of weeks at a time and they do fine. Of course summer is their favorite season, as you can see from the photo.

I was in the café at Barnes & Noble the other day and saw a lady reading a garden magazine. I said, "Are you a gardener?" and it was as if a dam broke. She spent the next five minutes telling me about her gardens. Her enthusiasm was fantastic and makes me even more excited about the start of another season of growing and tending my garden.