Saturday, April 15, 2017

April Daffodils for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

If late March is for crocuses and hellebores in this little corner of the world, then April is all about daffodils. Sunny yellow and white blooms greet you along the Daffodil Walk leading to the front door.  I bought a box of unmarked, mixed daffodil bulbs so I don't know the name of any of them. I love them all. I planted more daffodils behind the picket fence in Serenity, and several in the garden I call Abundance. Their sunny faces are a wonderful sign that spring has arrived.
I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.
-- Ruth Stout

The Daffodil Walk
Daffodil Narcissus
Daffodils in the garden I call Abundance
More daffodils in Serenity

Peeping through the picket fence in the kitchen garden I believe I can see the first bloom on the double daffodil, 'Tahiti', my favorite.
Lungwort Pulmonaria and various Daffodil Narcissus

Today  is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, celebrated by gardeners all around the world on the 15th of each month. I am sure there are lots of daffodils and other spring flowers displayed on blog postings this day. You can visit our hostess, Carol, at May Dreams Gardens to see.  Let's take a walk to find what other plants are blooming in my garden.
Lungwort Pulmonaria
Creeping Phlox Phlox subulata

Primroses are blossoming in the cottage garden. Creamy, yellow primroses remind me of England almost more than any other flower.

Her fairies climb the bare, brown trees,
And set green caps on every stalk;
Her primroses peep bashfully
From borders of the garden walk.

-- Hannah R. Hudson "April" The Atlantic Monthly, 1868 
Primrose Primula vulgaris

Primrose Primula vulgaris and Grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum

I must take time to cut some branches of forsythia and add them to my vase of pussy willows on the dining table.

Forsythia Forsythia x intermedia on the bank of Bluebell Creek

Forsythia Forsythia x intermedia peeps over the stockade fence in Serenity

The dwarf trees around the pond are budding or blooming. We plan to open up the pond next week. Frogs are already going in and out of the water where I folded back the netting. 

Snow fountain cherry Prunus x 'Snofozam'

New candles appearing on Weeping spruce Picea abies 'Pendula'

April is a promise that May is bound to keep.
-- Hal Borland

Dwarf weeping redbud Cercis canadensis 'Lavender Twist'

I see vinca has appeared in several flower beds. I dislike the job of pulling it out, but it is a necessary task as I try to keep it under control. My mother-in-law planted it. She called it periwinkle and loved its sweet blue flowers. In her honor, I will never totally remove it, although it is so invasive.

Vinca Vinca minor, Peony Paeonia shoots, and Bearded iris

Of course, there are hellebores still. Their pretty, nodding blooms beautify the woodland walk.
Hellebore Helleborus

What is blooming in your garden today? I'm off to May Dreams Gardens blog; maybe I'll see you there. Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Pamela x


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Monday, April 3, 2017

Planning the 2017 Kitchen Garden

 I began planning this year's kitchen garden in my head weeks ago. I ordered new seeds in January, but didn't put my ideas down on paper. Before I get to work, however, I must tour the garden to look for signs of the season. Following a mild winter, spring started early, then an unexpected cold spell followed by winter storm Stella put everything on hold. As a result, my spring bulbs are blooming later than last year. My most abundant blooms today are the crocuses. I have every color, so it's difficult to choose a favorite. I do love the deep purple and the white, however the bicolor in the picture above is my best loved today. 

Purple and white crocus in the Woodland Walk and under the crabapple tree.

I wrote about crocuses in 2010. This is what I said:
Since I was a child in England, I have loved Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies books. Her water-color illustrations and verses are delightful. “The Song of the Crocus Fairy” is the first poem in Flower Fairies of the Spring, and crocus fairies are pictured on the cover. Maybe this is one of the reasons I love crocuses and consequently planted so many in my garden. I planted the four predominant colors: lilac, mauve, yellow, and white. Of the approximately 80 species and 30 cultivars, I have no idea what mine are, as I planted them way before I saw the necessity of keeping labels.

Here is the book that inspired me:

Their history is interesting to me as I assumed they were native to Holland, but found their corms were taken there from Constantinople in the 1560’s. Earlier than that, they were painted on frescos on the Island of Crete. 
Since I wrote that posting, I've added many more crocuses. Here are more of the first ones I planted...


I spot another snowdrop shyly blooming behind the grasses in the Serenity Garden. The plastic marker is broken in half and I have only part of the name '... dapice' so don't know what it is, but it's very pretty.

Snowdrop Galanthus (?)

I have only three varieties of hellebore, so my pictures look the same on every spring posting; I must add some different ones.

Top: Hellebore Helleborus sp. Bottom: Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'
Hellebore Helleborus sp

I planted several of those white hellebores with purple spots in the Woodland Walk, but the deer decimated them. Only one bloom survived their ravishes. This brave little hellebore blossom looks so sad ...

On this day last year the daffodils along Daffodil Walk were in glorious bloom.  Today it seems they have a week, or more, to go. I find one lone daffodil flower in the garden that I call Abundance.

The interesting seeds of calycanthus are still still clinging to the shrub; I couldn't resist taking a picture, although they are more reminiscent of fall than spring.

Sweet Shrub, Calycanthus

H.H. is busy removing the logs of the felled white birch from the paddock. We cut it down after it broke in an ice storm. I love it's silvery trunk and I'm so sad to see the tree go.

Time to sort seeds and make plans. I collect together: new seeds, old ones stored in a mason jar in the refrigerator, last year's kitchen garden plan, a blank plan template, a calendar, and a box in which to organize the seed packets.

I begin by making a new plan, carefully rotating my crops to avoid diseases. I generally plant old favorites and try just one or two new things. This year's new venture is the garlic patch that I planted last fall.

Following the instructions on each seed packet and using the calendar to figure out the starting/sowing dates, I file the packets in a box, using index cards for dividers. I organize the seeds by the date they will be started indoors or directly sown outside. I add this information to a calendar dedicated to that purpose. This year, I cut down on the number of seeds I start early as I wanted to spend more time writing this winter. I see that marigolds and petunias could have been started already. Oops! A job for later today. I also note a few more seeds I need to order, such as parsnips. I kept some left-over seeds, forgetting you should only use fresh parsnip seeds.

Hopefully, the weather will improve enough to begin preparing the kitchen garden beds very soon, as I would like to put out onion sets within the week. We have extra work this year with a broken raised bed and rotted wood supporting the edge of the lasagna garden -- both must be replaced. I have a new project, too: my first cold-frame to be constructed along the south side of the potting shed. I'm excited!

Do you have a new project this year?

Think 'spring' -- or whichever season is starting in your corner of the world.
Pamela x

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I look forward to visiting your blog in return.