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,
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