Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Daffodil Walk

My garden is radiant with gorgeous daffodils. Their lovely faces brighten this miserably cold April day. Undaunted by the biting wind and snow flurries, they exude everything SPRING.
She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.”
--A.A. Milne

I planted them along the path to the front door. My mother-in-law grew some there many years ago and we remember them fondly, but somehow a landscaper removed them. When I took over the landscaping, I planned on replacing the daffodils, but never got around to it until last fall. I described how we planted them here. When H.H.'s sister visited and happily said, "Mom's daffodils are back!" I wished I had replaced them sooner. After all, I have daffodils in many other areas of the garden.

Daffodil Walk
What a miracle, that these turned into such beautiful flowers!
These are White Flower Farm's weatherproof daffodil mixture -- good choice considering our weather!
There is confusion over the name of this plant. Is it daffodil, narcissus or jonquil? According to the University of Missouri, "both daffodil and narcissus are correct. Narcissus is the generic botanical name given these plants in 1753. In England, however, the plants were commonly known as daffodils. This term was carried to other countries by English-speaking people. Jonquil refers to a specific kind of narcissus, and is not correct for the group in general. True jonquils have a reedlike leaf and sweet-smelling flowers. Narcissus, then, is the correct botanical name for the genus; daffodil is the correct common name for all members of the genus; and Jonquil correctly refers to one particular division of the genus." -- David Trinklein, Division of Plant Science, U. of Missouri.

I  love the frilly cup of this daffodil.

I follow Perdue's Department of Horticulture's advice,
"Remove flowers as soon as they begin to fade. This not only makes the plants look better, but it also prevents undesirable seed development. Seed development results in smaller bulbs the next year."
I'm not sure what I'll do when the Daffodil Walk's plants die back and start to look ugly.  I don't take off the leaves until they are turning brown, as they are still manufacturing food, flowers are forming for the next season, and the bulbs are maturing. If I decide to tie the dying foliage together to make the bed tidier, I must not do it until a month after the flower dies, so it's really not worth the trouble. I feel my best course of action is to plant groundcovers, annuals, or perennials to hide the dying plants. It is a full-sun area, so hostas and ferns (good daffodil companion plants) are not options. Also, the daffodils are planted close together, so there's not much room for planting between them. In my other daffodil beds, the companion plants came before the daffs., so I didn't have this problem. Daylilies are always suitable. What would you plant to hide the dying foliage?

My favorite with its distinctive corona.
Daffodils need little care during the spring. I fertilize my established bulbs with bonemeal just as the leaves begin to come up. I scatter it around each clump, being careful not to get it on the new leaves or they may be burned. Do not fertilize bulbs once they begin flowering as this encourages bulb rot and may shorten the life of the bulb. Daffodils need plenty of water during and after flowering. In the summer, when the bulbs are dormant, they should be kept fairly dry.

This bed is nearly ten years old.
I need to separate some of the daffodils in the more established beds. I will dig the bulbs as soon as the tops begin to die back. The dying tops help locate bulbs and make digging easier. I will replant the bulbs immediately, because if I store them, I may forget.

Daffodils in the perennial border.

Tahiti -- my favorite daffodil.
Beautiful bloom waiting in the wings.
Daffodils are not bothered by insects and diseases. Most important: deer wont eat them! The latter is the best reason to grow them I think, especially since deer munched several buds off my tulips last night. 

"... my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils."
-- William Wordsworth

Happy Gardening!
Pamela x

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Monday, April 13, 2015

List Making and First Blooms

 I am a born planner. When faced with a task, I make a list of what items I need in order to accomplish it, and a list of steps to take. This trait served me well in my 'former lives' as a school teacher, K-8 librarian and eventually school administrator. But when I retired to indulge my gardening passion, I just wanted to do it and figure out how as I went along. I soon realized this visceral and visual approach was not enough to accomplish my goals. I needed to write down my plan, give myself a timeline, and yes, make lists. At the beginning of each gardening year, therefore, I walk around my garden with paper and pencil and start making a master list. The finished list can look very daunting, but it is amazing how much I check off by the end of the year.

Today's master list includes a lot of hardscaping tasks, because none were accomplished last year due to my health problems and time spent in England with my mother's passing. It includes painting outbuildings, staining porches, and replacing broken fencing. Some are jobs H.H. and I wont necessarily do ourselves, so I write down who I need to employ and determine a timeline. My goal this year is to get the garden spiffed up before the end of June when we are open for a county tour. The weather has been awful, so we haven't accomplished much yet. This weekend we installed the new statue in the shade garden. You may remember a skunk knocked over, and shattered, the 'naked lady,' as my grandson's called her. I hope we made the new one a little more secure.

Allegrain's 'Bather,' our new 'naked lady,'

Picking up downed branches from all over the property, tidying the beds, and applying a 4 inch layer of compost to each of them, feature high on the softscaping list. This is a list of the real gardening. We made a start with cutting back those grasses and perennials that I allowed to stand all winter for interest and for the birds. I started some pruning, too.  I am not making any new gardens this year, because H.H. threatened divorce if I do, but I am renovating the Woodland Walk by adding lots more shade garden plants: brunnera, foxgloves, Adromeda, primroses, coralberry shrub, waxbells, and more hellebores. I am so.o.o looking forward to plant shopping

As I work in the garden this week I am disappointed to see that this extremely late spring means few blooms: only crocuses, two snowdrops, one hellebore, and this morning I found just a couple of daffodils open to the morning sun. I looked back at photographs taken in 'Aprils Past' and found very different springtimes, so I am including some of those pictures. But first, here are today's blooms. It is the season of Firsts:

First crocuses, 2015

First hellebore, 2015

First daffodil, 2015

First snowdrop, 2015

For my first blooms I am linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens where she hosts Garden Blogger's Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.

Back to list making: There are online resources to enhance your experience, such as Scribbles or Work Flowy. Personally, I am happy with a pencil and the back of an envelope, but I do like to type up my final checklists and print them out.

April 7, 2010

An article in Psychology Today explains how 'Making Lists Can Quell Anxiety and Breed Creativity.'
Of the six benefits cited, my favorite is
Combat avoidance. Taking abstract to concrete sets the stage for commitment and action. Especially if you add self-imposed deadlines. Carrie Barron

April 14, 2011

I agree with Branson that it is important to 'find a list method that works for you.' Click here for Richard Branson's top 10 tips for making lists. Doodles, bullet-points, charts what suits you best?' And I agree with Sidney Eddison, in her wonderful book, Gardening for a Lifetime, that prioritizing is essential.

April 7, 2010
March 15, 2012
April 9, 2014
April 7, 2010
April 9, 2014

At the beginning of each week I pick tasks from the master list and make my weekly list. This is a more detailed to-do list of jobs both large and small that I hope to accomplish that week. Each day I pick some of those tasks and, depending on the weather, I check off as many as I can. If I have little time that day, I pick something small, like staking a peony. I keep the daily list short to fit in with all my other obligations. I love the feeling of satisfaction as I tick off a box.

Like my garden, my seed starting was late this year. I set up the seed starting station, but didn't keep to my planned schedule. I blogged about my kitchen garden's beginnings here. I have learned that while list making is a great organizing tool, I cannot beat myself up if I don't meet my goals. I have found, however, I am more likely to reach my goals with lists than without.

Seed Starting Station takes over one end of the dining room.

List making has a long history and was practiced by many historical figures including Benjamin Franklin.
'The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible… And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists…'        Umberto Eco
Do you make gardening lists? If not, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Happy Gardening,
Pamela x

The goldfinches have their yellow feathers. It IS spring!

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