Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What a Difference a Zone (or Two) Makes

HH and I are very proud of ourselves because twice in the last couple of weeks these two country bumpkins drove all the way to the big city -- from the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, to Arlington, Virginia. We even took the metro into Washington, DC. (What an experience that was! For a start, we needed help figuring out how to retrieve tickets from the machine.) Of course, we have a great incentive to come here: spending time with grandchildren! My son and his wife were away on business last week, and again for a few days this week, so we are doing double-babysitting-duty. What a joy these two little boys are!

A bonus, as an avid gardener, is seeing what is blooming in other states. Last week, we stopped off in Maryland to visit HH's cousin and his wife. Their garden is simply beautiful! And what a difference two panting zones make in bloom times. The adorable candytuft is probably my personal favorite of the perennials already in bloom in their garden.

The lilacs were coming into flower already ...

                                                                           ... and so were the azaleas.

In this lovely Maryland garden, the birdsong was notable, as was the heavy scent of blossoms on the trees. I wish I could convey the wonderful sounds and smells we experienced there.

I have to say, this year many plants in my zone 5 garden have bloomed early. So my daffodils were flowering at the same time as those in zone 7. But mine did not compare to these in the Maryland garden. I must plant more varieties this fall.

More Maryland flowers: The bleeding hearts are way ahead of mine.

What a perfect family visit, and it was enhanced by time spent in a garden.

I photographed this spectacular wisteria near my grandson's school in Arlington, VA.

When we went into Washington, DC (did I tell you we took the metro?) the orange blossoms had passed their peak, but we found lots of plants blooming in the gardens around the Smithsonian Institute museums. One that I think can be described as a "secret garden," is the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden. Tulips were everywhere.

I think you will agree the tree peonies are amazing:

My tradescantia does not even have buds yet. Take a look at this ...

 For someone who always wanted to try to espalier a tree, this euonymus is really impressive.

 Tulips and pansies are spectacular in the Enid A. Haupt Garden next to the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building.

Finally, there I spotted this chubby bird. Can anyone name it?

It is an exciting time of the year for gardeners, whatever your planting zone. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Flowers, August Temperatures

 "April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go." 
John Mistletoe.

The title of this post, April Flowers, August Temperatures, is a  headline on the front page of today's  Pocono Record. The temperature hit 90 degrees and it was too hot to work in the garden in the middle of the day. Although not a record, believe me, this is NOT normal April weather for these parts.

The past few weeks, I spent a couple of hours gardening each nice-weather day and I am pleased with the progress made. I have cleaned up each flower bed, cut back ornamental grasses and perennials, and I am keeping ahead of the weeds. I pruned the roses. I gave my numerous vines a lot of attention: tidying climbing rose, clematis, and honeysuckle vines where needed. I removed dead wood and suckers from trees and shrubs. There are still loads to do, but it IS only the beginning of April, even if it feels like summer.

The morning walks around my gardens reveal new surprises every day ...

I love the delicate blossoms of the andromeda. The deer find this shrub unappealing - a plus.

My friend, Karen, gave me many lungworts. I love the way they have flowers of several colors on one plant.

I planted lungwort in all corners of my garden. Here you can see it in one of the foundation beds. The daffodils are making a good show against the picket fence ...

Another beautiful hellebore was in bloom today -- a lady in her pink Easter bonnet ...

Of course, the forsythia is wearing her best yellow dress. This shrub is very old and doesn't get full sun (it's behind the stockade fence), but it still performs quite well.

The grape hyacinths are just making an appearance ...

In the vegetable garden, the rhubarb and the chives are most prominent.

Can you see the tufts of green among the dried leaves? The bluebells are coming up in the woodland garden. Hurrah!

Enjoy the springtime, dear gardening friends! It is my favorite season. What is yours?

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!