Thursday, April 30, 2020

This Month in the Garden: April 2020

We opened Froggy Pond this week. You may remember that I took the name from Diana's pond at Elephant's Eye on False Bay in South Africa. My husband installed the new frog spitter, a replica of those in the Italian Garden at Longwood. Diana already had a frog that spouts water; we both have live frogs singing at night. Diana and I join Sarah at Down by the Sea for an April view of our gardens. The pond opening was less harrowing than expected as we found and fixed the leak that kept down the water level several inches. Pond guy, Steve, advised us to look around the skimmer. His excellent advice led us to see where the rubber lining had sagged and was letting the water through. We pulled up the lining, secured it with rocks, and voila -- no more leak! The rest of the pond-opening task went smoothly: removing some of the water, pulling up plant pots that were over-wintered on the bottom and setting them on ledges, adding plant food to the pots, cleaning the filters, starting up the waterfall, and installing the aforesaid frog spitter. We added bacteria and salt after we had filled the pond back up. We finished, what is sometimes a two-day job, in time for me to enjoy my afternoon glass of wine. (The latter has become essential to my well-being since the onset of the crisis.) We had picked the best day of the week and it was warm enough to sit on the bench and admire our handiwork while listening to the calming sound of splashing water.

Unfortunately, much of April saw horrible weather with rain, winds, cold temperatures, and even a dusting of snow. We had some sunny days the first two week in the month when I was able to work outside cleaning out flower beds, preparing the kitchen garden, and planting peas. There were fewer good days in the second half of the month -- it was more like the beginning of March. The early spring caused the lilacs to begin blooming only to have their buds zapped by frost. I'm happy to see the redbud did not suffer a similar fate.

Top: Damaged lilac flowers. Bottom: Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud tree, Cercis canadensis 'Covey'

I love to see raindrops beading on the leaves of lady's mantle, but four inches of downpour is enough rain already. We are having another torrential rainfall today as I write this. As a result, Duane and I decided we need to expand the water garden. It overflowed and the water went through the fence into the cutting garden. Therefore, before planting the annuals for cutting, we have work to do.

Lady's mantle Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller'
The marsh marigold continue to bring sunny smiles to the rain garden

Violets and forget-me-nots have started to bloom in the cottage garden border. The peonies shot up -- I'm so glad I installed hoop supports in time. I cut down the smokebush and finished pruning all my other shrubs this month. The primroses continue to delight. My friend and fellow Brit, plantswoman Jenny Rose Carey, said that April 19 is Primrose Day in England. This was news to me. She said it came about because primroses were prime minister Benjamin Disraeli's favorite flower and he died on April 19, 1881. Now that I know this, true or not, like Jenny Rose I plan on celebrating Primrose Day every year in future. This means, of course, I need to purchase more primroses. 

Cottage Garden border with primroses

If you look at my GBBD posting HERE you will see April brought lots of daffodil, forsythia, bloodroot, fritillary, and pieris blooms. There follows a few other plants now making an appearance with leaves, buds, or flowers.

Can you see the buds on my first allium to bloom each year? These were in a bag of bulbs without a label.
The umbrella leaves of mayapple Podophyllum peltatum in Serenity garden
Brunnera macrophylla 'Silver Heart' in the Woodland Walk
Still lots of hellebores
Hosta and lily of the valley are shooting up, and the golden mound spirea around the statue is leafing out in Serenity Garden
Top and bottom right: Lungwort Pulmonaria. Bottom left: Bugleweed Ajuga reptans

In the vegetable garden peas, spinach, and Swiss chard are up. The rhubarb is almost ready to be picked. I've been using chives in my cooking. The marigolds and broccoli seeds are coming along nicely in the potting shed. I have several trays of zinnia in the dining room. 

Clockwise from top right: Chives (in container) and rhubarb; potting shed seeds; snow peas; Swiss chard in the coldframe
The weather forecast looks hopeful for the beginning of May. We ordered a load of compost for delivery on Saturday and need a few dry days so that we can spread it on the flower beds. So much to do. This is the best time of the year, even with rain and a pandemic.

Stay safe and healthy dear friends,
Pamela x

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, April 2020

The miracle called spring is happening in my garden on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day exemplified by the weeping cherry tree clothed in cascading blossoms. The tree is at its most stunning this year. One of the things I like about the meme (thank you Carol for hosting) is being able to look back to Bloom Day in previous years to see how the garden progresses. The weeping cherry is a perfect example. See how it looked seven years ago when I first planted it. Then look at it last year.

Snow fountain weeping cherry Prunus x 'Snofozam' today

Daffodils continue to dominate my landscape, although I notice this morning that a few blooms are fading. The Daffodil Walk up to the front porch is drawing comments from passing walkers out for a little fresh air at this time of lockdown and social distancing. Likewise the daffodil bed along the front fence is appreciated by my neighbors. There is very little foot traffic, or car traffic for that matter, but I'm glad to brighten the day for those few who venture out.

Daffodil Narcissus still beautiful in all of my gardens

Last year I installed a rain garden. I planted it with native plants that don't mind wet feet. At the beginning of the month, the marsh marigold started to bloom.

Marsh marigold Caltha palustris

This week we had a violent rain storm that dumped four inches of rain in a short time and blew 50 mph gusts of wind. The rain garden filled up, the pond overflowed, and the some of the lawns flooded.

After the Storm. Top: Rain garden. Bottom: Serenity Garden lawn.

The flooded lawn is where the catalpa tree was removed last year -- probably its roots rotted. We hope to replace it with a dawn redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, that grows well in wet conditions. Meanwhile, I'm concerned about the lack of shade in that garden; it is full of shade plants. I will monitor it carefully. I was happy to see the rain garden drained within 24 hours, so no plants were damaged there. And the second marsh marigold is starting to bloom.

Rain garden after the storm.

Some of the shade plants I am concerned about in the Serenity Garden now the caltalpa tree is no more are bloodroot, brunera, hellebore, and hosta.

Top: Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis. Bottom: Forsythia over the picket fence, Left to right: Bloodroot, Brunera 'Jack Frost', Hellebore Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'

The deer have their own solution to the hosta problem -- eat them!

Hostas are shooting up, but the deer are nibbling them down.

Some of the photographs I took today seem identical to those I posted the last several years. The forsythia is a case in point, although we can see that it has now spread to cover the length of the picket fence ....

Forsythia Forsythia x intermedia grows the whole length of the Serenity Garden fence.

Another spectacular show is the blooming andromeda in the Woodland Walk. Never have I seen it  displaying its delicate, hanging bells so beautifully. The carpet of blue vinca, Vinca Minor, adds to the loveliness.

Japanese andromeda Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire.'

Primroses are beginning to bloom ....

Primrose Primula vulgaris

 More blossoms on this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ...

Clockwise from top right: Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris,  Grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum,  Lungwort Pulmonaria, Creeping Phlox, Phlox subulata

My only tulip was planted by Duane's mother in a corner next to the tractor shed where it is safe from marauding deer. It has bloomed faithfully for 30+ years. I would like it to be in a more prominent place, but fear moving it may prove to be to its detriment.

My mother-in-law's beautiful tulip

And I put a wreath of tulips on the deck door even though we have no visitors due to the lockdown.

Our fields are sown; spring has sprung. Unfortunately, we have a cold snap forecast for the rest of this week and I fear for the buds on my crabapple, redbud, lilacs, and other trees. I am sending up a little prayer.

Our farmer planted oats this week.

Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, dear friends. I am going over to May Dreams Garden to see what's blooming around the world. Hope to see your garden there.

Stay safe and healthy,
Pamela x

Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris

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