We are still ahead on the calendar for spring but I love all the spring flowers that are popping out. This hellebore and his neighboring primrose are great for the north side of the house.
This is the more mature of the hellebores but it is still early.
I love spring cottage garden flowers like primroses. So underused in the garden.
Forsythia is one of the early shrubs to flower and this week I spotted an old stand in the empty lot next door! It was shining yellow among the vines and overgrown weeds out there. What more can you want from a shrub when it blooms so profusely in the overgrown woodland decades after it was planted?
Did I mention that the asparagus is coming up in the veggie garden too!
After an almost non- winter, the temperatures are steadily rising and things are moving into spring already. The first crocus was out in February which is almost 2 wks ahead of last year. The past two years the first crocus was March 11th and March 19th. This year it was February 28th! That is a good sign for an early spring. The first little iris are in bloom too.
Along with crocus the early daffodils are up as well and in bloom. Not quite enough to pick some for the home but they look perfect by the front door where they great the postman and guests.
The veggie garden is still predominantly dormant but the rhubarb is just peeping through. I keep an upturned plant pot over them to give them some protection and force them to grow just a little early. In a week or two when frosts are less common I will change the containers for the ‘wall o water’ which allows a little extra heat to promote early stems. The Wall o’ Waters’ then move on to protect peppers and tomato plants in early summer.
Rhubarb is covered with a pottery plant pot to force it into early growth
Two weeks ago I was able to go the the Witch Hazel festival in the nearby Rare Finds Nursery and come home with another 2 witch hazel shrubs. I have always loved the early bloom in yellow one but now there are reds and burnt orange blooms too. Many of these shrubs have great fall color and a more than a few have great scent as well – what more can you want from a shrubs?
Witch Hazel Birgit
So far the trees are not in blossom, but it is early and Blue Jays are just some of the birds that are calling out to each other sensing that spring is round the corner.
10 days ago the weather went from mild to cold, but still no snow then the blizzard arrived! It started Friday evening and we expected under a foot to accumulate over the weekend. Saturday morning we had topped the one foot level and by Sunday morning we had a final total of 21 inches of fluffy white snow. That is taking some digging out from and the landscape is still covered so I don’t know what damage has been done but some signs of heavy snow are already becoming evident.
Blizzard 2016 21-inch snowfall
Where the driveway was cleared – the truck went over the small flower/shrub bed – the crape myrtle dies back to the ground anyway but I am not sure what else was there. At least one azalea is looking like snow has stressed or broken a few branches and the conifers close to the house look like a side has been pushed down. Some will spring back, others will need pruning.
Snow clearing truck tracks didn’t quite miss the buried shrubs
Heavy snow is pulling the branches on this azalea down
All in all though not a bad winter when the bulk of the snow falls on just one Saturday!
Inside I have the peas already growing and the beans have germinated. In the seedling tray there are a few tomatoes, a bunch of marigolds and hopefully a pepper or two but they are still germinating – the soil temperature was probably not quite warm enough. I did sit them on a hot water bottle to hasten things!
Boosting the heat under the peppers
We are all looking forward to spring like weather returning!
I have no problem heading to a public garden in January even if the roses are not out, so last week we were in Brooklyn and took a walk around to see how the plants were doing.
I didn’t take an image of the camellias but they were close to blooming and in a very sheltered spot. Then we came across this Long Leaved Willow (Salix acutifolia). The fuzzy willow flowers shine like silver on the tree and made them look like icicles. The little lenten roses were almost out too – about 3 weeks further than mine at least! This one is ‘Pink Frost’
Willow at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Christmas rose in January in Brooklyn Botanical Garden
The afternoon was chilly though so we wandered through the greenhouse – the first had a tropical look and orchids and the second had a wonderful display of colorful plants. They even had a few vertical arrangements which seem to be the latest way to grow things.
Tropical plants growing in bright indoor place – lovely display
The tropical look in the greenhouse
The best part of botanical gardens in winter is that there are not many people there – except in the cafe anyway. So a fun couple of hours looking at plants in winter.
So the temperatures are still mild and spring is almost in the air among the Christmas decorations. The garden is reacting by lots of things coming out of dormancy a little too early – by about 2 or 3 months!
This is just a few days before Christmas and the mild, almost unseasonable warmth has brought crocus and early daffodils out of dormancy.
If this mild weather continues we will have crocus in bloom on New Year’s Day – quite a difference to the past 2 years when they didn’t arrive until almost April!
Yesterday was unseasonably warm so I decided to take advantage of the day by washing all the containers. Usually this is a cold and miserable necessity done in late winter either in the utility tub or with a hose outside. Some folks are organized enough to do this in fall but my tomatoes and peas were all growing up until almost Thanksgiving. I emptied all the containers last week but didn’t have the time to clean them, and the temperature was far from conducive to playing outside with water.
Yesterday though was different and I filled two large tubs with warm water – one with suds in it and the other with a little bleach. I was able to scrub the containers, disinfect them and store them all in one afternoon. Self watering containers, colorful containers for the deck and those that fit on the My Garden Post were all cleaned. Now they are in the basement, clean and ready to use after Christmas.
I intend to start some of the containers as soon as the holiday season is over so that I have some colorful and productive containers for my talks on The Downsized Veggie Garden.
Even the Smart Pots got brushed and washed – they are still drying but they too will be ready to use in a day or two.
An additional benefit was that I now have too clean recycle tubs as well!
A great day to wash containers
Even the Smart Pots were cleaned
I am thrilled that my new book is due out in February! You can pre-order from our friends at Amazon and hopefully you will see me around doing book signings across New Jersey and neighboring states. The Downsized Veggie Garden is about how to grow in small spaces, particularly in containers and Square Foot Gardens. The book can also be purchased from me directly and you will have a signed copy. Just contact me through www.katecopsey.com
I am delighted to add that Mel Bartholomew, the author and originator of the Square Foot Garden method was generous enough to add an endorsement for the book!!
The New Book
The Christmas season is here again and it has been a while since I posted. My pre-Christmas chores included bringing the poinsettia in from the garden last September. I kept it from last year and planted it in a nice sunny spot, then forgot to trim it so it is a bit lanky right now but has color.
A Conditioned Poinsettia in Bloom
In September I brought it inside, and conditioned it under a large box for long nights. The box went on about 4pm and was removed about 10am for the whole of September and October. By November it was starting to show some color and by Thanksgiving it was colorful, albeit a bit lanky.
The Christmas cactus is also in bloom. The set bloom as soon and the days and temperatures drop in September so are well in bloom for Thanksgiving. I would like to think that they will still be in bloom for Christmas but I am not holding my breath right now.
Th other seasonal plants are the amaryllis bulbs which were bought inside in September and rested in the basement for a while. In November I bought them outside and trimmed the leaves. One has put out a new leaf the other is still thinking so I don’t think these will make Christmas but they hopefully will cheer the January blahs.
We know that living surrounded by woods and undergrowth there are animals – deer, rabbits, squirrels, wild turkeys etc etc and at least one groundhog! It seemed reasonable to fence the area that I wanted to have for a vegetable garden and those deer treats that I like to grow – such as the black elderberry (Sambuscus nigra). Last year he found the garden and entered via a side gate. He squeezed under the gate, sniffed at the lilac bush, pottered off to the deck and took a look at the mint in a tub at the bottom of the deck steps. He continued onto the deck and looked at peas etc in containers, then went back down the steps and onto the vegetable garden to snack.
He really did not find the garden until late in the year and most of the vegetables were protected but this year we needed to fix the gate (done). This year the little charmer has found the garden already by digging under the sloppy fence. That is a little more work for us to mend. So far we have laid chicken wire from under the now fixed fence, under the fence, down a little way and sticking out a little for him to travel over. We need to finish that today.
groundhog proofing the garden
This morning no sign of the little fella but it is still early in the season and we have not finished yet.
St David’s Day is celebrated across Wales on March 1st along with the national flower the daffodil which is in bloom in March. So I thought I would take a few St David’s Day pictures from my no-daffodil in sight garden:
The crocus grow here
No crocus in sight – though the little stems were showing in early January. They have since been buried.
The hellebore should be here
The hellebore are growing here – under about 4 inches of ice and snow.
Early daffodils and miniature iris should be here.
The early daffodils and little miniature iris should be brightening the landscape here in March. Today they are under 2 feet of ice and snow from the driveway.
So not a crocus let alone a daffodil in sight!