… but most spring flowers don’t. It hasn’t yet reached the temperature that was forecast for today (82!) but it’s definitely warmer than most things want to be so early in spring. As much as I hate to have to say it, the daffodils are now officially past their peak. Not to worry though because the tulips have taken over the show. Of course, warm temperatures this week might make some of them a passing fancy too. But then, that’s what spring is all about. This is definitely the week to take a day off to sit under the cherry trees as they snow, breathe in the heavy scent of winter hazel, listen to the frogs sing, take a photo essay of faded flowers, and celebrate the preciousness of life. Since every day is bloom day from now on, here’s a small sample of passing fancies for a hot and sunny Monday.
To see what else is blooming (and passing by) all over the country and the world, visit May Dreams Gardens.
Yesterday a reporter from one of the local papers called to ask about the daffodils. She wondered when they would bloom; are they early; how long would they last; and what comes next? A very popular barrage of questions for this time of year.
I could tell her – and I’ll tell you – that they’re blooming now and I’ll even go so far as to guess that they’ll probably start peaking next week and continue into our Daffodil Days celebration that starts on the 1st of April. They are early – a good two or three weeks early and there’s no way to know how long they’ll last. Cool temperatures, particularly at night helps prolong the show – next week promises so far to be cooler than this – and we have a good variety of early and late bloomers so unless we’re hit with a heatwave, the show should go on for a few weeks altogether.
She asked what would we DO if the daffodils went by quickly?! Do? Besides enjoying it while it lasts, and trying to keep up, there’s nothing to do. Gardeners know there’s no predicting nature. We might be more dialed in than the average non-gardener but only to the extent that we know – and accept – that anything goes.
So what happens after the daffodils bloom? Everything! Tulips for starters. The reporter also wondered when would be the best time to visit Blithewold? Of course, I’m the wrong person to ask because I think it’s beautiful all the time. But you really can’t go wrong to time a visit for May or June. July and August tend to be hot but lovely. September is really spectacular. October too.
But if you love spring and don’t want to miss it, come soon. It is happening fast this year. So fast that if you picked a spot under a maple, next to a cinnamon fern or the winter hazel you could almost watch the changes as they happen. And try not to miss the other spring ephemerals. Our intern, Tricia spotted the very tiniest: new blooms on the European ginger (Asarum europaeum). Not as spectacular as a daffodil perhaps, but I’d have hated to miss it. The gardens and grounds are open.
Are you making any predictions this year? When will your daffodils bloom? Or have they already?
Yesterday was the kind of day that made me feel very sorry for anyone stuck indoors. High 60s, sunny blue sky, birds singing, bees buzzing: Exactly the kind of short-sleeves day we all desperately crave when it’s hot as blazes or when it’s bone-chilling cold out. Exactly the kind of day best spent soaking up the warmth of the sun, sucking up the scent of the fragrant honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), and getting the garden cut back, and roses pruned and transplanted. Which is exactly how Gail, Tricia — our new garden intern, and I spent our day.
Your employer should thank me for suggesting that the very next time a day like that is forecast for a work day (tomorrow by the looks of it), you call in well and get your body outside. Disregard the calendar, quit worrying too much about the pendulum swinging, and cut back the buddleia, lespedeza and caryopteris. Go for it. It’s time and it will do you good to get out and enjoy it.
So what will you do on the next blue day? I’ll feel better if you tell me you’ll at least be able to open the windows, and will try to invent excuses, like a friend of mine did yesterday, to take some mini-walks around the neighborhood…
I also think it would be good for you — and good for your garden — to plan on taking another day off on Thursday, April 5 to attend a day of lectures on Planting for the Future by Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, and Warren Leach, brilliant landscape designer and co-owner of Tranquil Lake Nursery. I have heard both of them speak several times and they always keep me at the edge of my seat: Doug with his fervent call to arm our gardens with certain native plants in order to recreate a working ecosystem; and Warren with inspirational design ideas that show that environmentally friendly gardens can still be highly ornamental and sublimely lovely. Please come if you possibly can.
It’s hard not to want pretty things on Valentine’s Day. Or any day for that matter. Especially any day in February. But the sun is climbing higher, the plants in the greenhouse are perking up, and lucky for me, there are blooms and buds galore just in time – and just in time for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens tomorrow.
We are also finalizing our plant orders and that definitely satisfies my deep desire for pretty right now too. I went back through Annie’s Annuals yesterday and couldn’t stop clicking “add to wishlist” just to see all the plants I covet on one page. (Two pages actually. – I’ve been very restrained.)
Speaking of everything on one page, Blithewold has joined Pinterest! I have to admit to being suddenly a little bit obsessed with that site and elected to direct my addiction towards “pinning” pictures of the plants in our gardens. The North, Rock, and Rose Gardens are filling up and I’m going to start a greenhouse board too. I have been dragging my feet about producing spreadsheet plant lists for each garden – now I know why: this is prettier. And more helpful for anyone who doesn’t know plants from their names alone. (I’m still planning to make spreadsheets available for visitors.) You don’t have to be a member of Pinterest to cruise our boards but if you are a member, I’d love to see you on our list of followers.
Are you surrounding yourself with pretty things today too – virtually or for real?
The birds are singing, the Mt. Aso pussywillow (Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt. Aso’) is coloring buds, crocus are emerging, and it feels for all the world like early-spring outside. Given that we really ought to still be tucked into winter, it would be a little premature to start cutting the garden back quite yet. But unless winter suddenly shows up in the next few Groundhog’s Day weeks, we will be out cutting the gardens back earlier than usual. It’s high time to take a tool inventory and sharpen a few things (and in our case, replace a few) to get ready.
Almost exactly a year ago I did a post on how-to sharpen pruners and I’m sorry to have to print a total retraction now. I had taken a few lessons from my husband (who I reported as having a keen interest in anything at least as sharp as my wit) and what he taught made perfect sense to me. I recommended flattening the flat side of the blade of and touching up the bevel.
Alas flattening the flat side wasn’t a great idea – particularly for the grape shears we use for deadheading. Over the course of the summer, snip after snip seized up, refusing to close and ever snip again. The garden volunteers, quite rightly, wanted my head on a platter. It was that frustrating.
Below is a video produced by DMT, the makers of the diamond sharpeners we use. In it you’ll see that the correct way to sharpen a bypass pruner is to run the file only along the bevel from the inside out, pushing towards the edge rather than away from it. (Away strokes raise a burr.) Check their website for more videos on how to sharpen snips, scissors, knives, etc.
My fingers are crossed that no one ruined any good tools by following my bum advice. I have some hope because the pruners I use daily never seized up or failed to cut properly. And luckily our Felcos are still working properly. (I have deleted the erroneous post from our archives.)
Have you been tending to your tools, getting ready for a spring that might be here before we know it? Do you have any advice – or admonitions – to share?