Grape Hyacinths

In the narrow space between the patio deck and the house, grape hyacinths grow. It is a moist and and shaded area. The soil is not as good here. It has more clay because of it's proximity to the foundation. The soil has never been amended nor has the bed been fertilized.

Despite these conditions, the grape hyacinth has thrived. And, it is a pretty flower.

Grape hyacinths are small, spiked flowers resembling a bunch of grapes. Early spring bloomers, their fragrance is delicate and most welcomed after a long winter. Bees, especially the bumble bee, love it.

When in bloom, Muscari armeniacam is a gorgeous, deep cobalt blue. Another positive characteristic of this bulb is that it spreads. The plantings in this narrow space have increased over the years, and, after 15 years, have taken on the appearance of a a blue carpet.

Hardy, no care. Grape hyacinths do well in Zone 5.


Spring Nesting Time

The house runneth over
We need more feathers!

Although it's always sad to see trees and plants, flower bulbs, that didn't survive the winter or that have been damaged, spring also is a time to assess some of the quiet positives.

While strolling with Noll, I chuckled at the sight of the bluebird house that has been claimed by a house sparrow. Only once did a family of bluebirds fledge in this house. That was one of those magical moments. I don't know if I imagined it or not, but I think the outer edges of the hole were stained blue from the birds' comings and goings. Too bad bluebirds are not want to fight for their territory. I miss them. But, the house sparrows have got a good things going on now.

Winter's Damage

Yesterday, April 23, while strolling around with Noll, I took stock of this winter's damage.
Zone 5 had an atypical winter - colder and longer with extended freezing. There's signs of animal and salt damage and dessication on some of the established landscape.
The old apple tree has peeling bark and a patch that looks shredded - as if something with claws or a beak has been working away at the soft wood. It's a main branch, so I'm concerned about the integrity of the tree's health. Don't want anything to happen to the old gal. She's glorious in spring and breathtaking in winter (see blog title photo).
One large limb of the Noll's favorit tree - the purple plum - is dead.
I'll leave it for the flickers and woodpeckers to peck at.
Salt and wind damage to the evergreens bordering the front entrance. Noll's piddling is an added assault. The nearby boxwoods are an ugly, dessicated, yellow-brown. They'll get a trim and some Miracle Gro.
The newer landscape was also impacted: Two of the three small cherry trees I planted last fall show struggling signs of life. They will need extra TLC if they are to make it.

The little plug of a buckeye tree I have been nursing for the past three years was munched down to a nub....again! My dream of having my own buckeye tree is fast fading. The three year old oak sapling - planted by a squirrel - was chewed a bit too. It should recover nicely though.


Peonies in May

The perennial peonies growing in my garden are of the herbaceous cultivar variety. There is also a tree variety; which I've never had the pleasure of seeing in a nursery or yard.

Hardy to Zone 5, my peonies grow in the rock garden (full sun) and in a garden on the north side (partial sun) of the garage. Both peonies are over 15 years old, in well-drained soil with delicate pink petals. Sweetly fragrant, the plants grow to a little over two feet.
Peonies are easy care. I cut them back in the spring when the new growth starts. Most people cut them back in the fall after the plant has died back.

I remember peonies grew in the yard next to my childhood home. Two things come to mind when I think about them - first, how the blossoms drooped or lay flat on the ground and second, the icky ants crawling over the buds and up and down the stems.

After a couple of years of having the blooms fall flat, I found a fix for the first thing.
I installed a green circular, wire plant support secured by four stakes (from Gardener Supply). The stems grow up through the holes in the circular form. The green color of the support blends in with the foliage. The stems are supported by the form at mid-level. Even when wet, the blooms remain erect. With that main distraction solved, I almost don't notice the ants.


Spring Jewels

Blue and White Primrose


Bi-color Daffodil

French Hyacinth

Springtime Reflections

Large Cup Daffodil

In early spring, there seems to be no end to last year's leaves, dried stems and twigs. The strong west wind, keeps blowing stuff in. This weekend was one endless loop to the compost piles.

However, progress has been made on the veggie front.

After edging and working peat moss into the soil, the cold crop patio vegetable garden was ready for planting. Peas, short & sweet carrots, green onions, and firecracker radishes are in. Last night there was a nice, soaking rain. Might have a trace of snow tonight, but things will be warming up again mid-week.

Meanwhile, the jewels of spring are all around. Here and there, the bulbs are up and shining and sending up a delicate fragrance. It's a lovely prelude to late April when the fruit trees will be in bloom.

Enjoy the show!


Time to Make the Beds

Outside: For the past two weeks, it's been flower and landscape bed cleanup time.

At this stage, it's simply raking up the remaining leaves and cutting back the old growth of the perennials. The leaves and cuttings are hauled to the compost piles at the treeline at the back acreage. Edging will come in another couple weeks. Last night I tidied up the catnip bed. Noll helped but seemed a little disconcerted that I removed some perfectly good catnip stalks ;)

At the end of March, the potting shed garden was extended by another 2 x 4 feet. Pumpkins will go in here. The compost bin was moved to the east side of the shed. One inch of compost was added to the garden to prep the soil for the corn that will go in early May.

This weekend, peat moss will be added to the patio garden, the soil tilled and peas and leaf lettuce planted.

Inside: Some of the starter seeds have sprouted - cabbage, cosmos, alyssum, a few tomatoes. I love to check the progress every day.

The cherry tomatoes I have been growing indoors all year are nearing an end. About 3 dozen fruit remain on the vines in various stages of ripening. The three plants have produced since December. It's been nice to have fresh tomatoes to garish our salads.

The green onions I started in a window sill box are thriving too. Pretty soon, they'll go outside to finish growing. Before the onions, loose leaf lettuce grew in this container. We had fresh lettuce last October/November.

I don't know why I didn't think to extend my "gardening" season sooner. So long as the plants don't require pollination and have a sunny southern exposure, tomatoes, loose leaf lettuce, herbs, green onions, can do quite well indoors during the dead of winter.