Sunday, April 25, 2010


Digging in a neglected bit of flower bed to plant a recently purchased blue salvia , I disturbed this fine spider, which sat quietly while I went inside to fetch my camera. As usual, no amount of fiddling will make me happy with the result (surely the overall body color was darker, and the soil has a redder clay tinge to it), but I'm pleased to have a record of our encounter. The overall size of this spider, including legs, was approximately 2 inches or perhaps less.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The sign at the local garden center warns that our average last frost date is April 30, but I was not the only optimist last Saturday buying a first installment of summer. Sunday was my day in the yard, cutting back the forsythia, weeding, and starting to plant. I cleaned up the area along the fence beside our neighbor's driveway, taking out the ailing caryopteris that finally gave up under 30 inches of February snow, and planted cleome, little yellow marigolds, and a blue larkspur, hoping that the proximity of concrete would keep the temperature up just enough in spite of a frost warning. The larkspur (labeled "Siberian larkspur" and allegedly perennial!) seemed expensive for one plant, but I succumbed to its lovely and almost unphotographable blue flowers. It turns out to be a bargain: there were 4 plants in the pot. I spread them around hoping they are all the same blue. Still waiting on our front steps are some zinnias for the back corner, and a couple of geraniums.

The azaleas are having a great year, in spite of those 30 inches of snow. This one is Herbert, the only one of the evergreen azaleas that we planted. I think we bought it at an Azalea Society sale at Brookside Gardens many years ago. The color is a little bluer than the photo shows. I would like to try taking cuttings of it as well as some of our other azaleas, especially the white one that made a great comeback after a couple of bad years.

We also have a deciduous azalea (Northern Hi-lights) doing very well in the back yard and just starting to bloom. It's currently perhaps 30 inches tall and should eventually reach 4 or 5 feet. The flowers are creamy, almost a pale yellow, when they start to open. The fully open flower is white with a yellow blotch. I could fall for another one, or perhaps another golden orange one like the one we used to have.

All in all, the hard winter seems to have agreed with the flowering shrubs that survived. Not yet blooming, but lighting up its corner of the yard, is the Deutzia I brought back from Maine a few years ago. The yellow-green leaves seem to glow in the late afternoon sun.

In the produce department, I planted seedlings of lacinto kale, green swiss chard, and what I though was red chard, which turns out to be beets. I just didn't want to fuss with seeds. Peppers and tomatoes in pots will come later.

It was lovely to spend the day outside just poking around, following my inclinations and getting things done as it suited me, with no meetings, committees, or project plans.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In the yard today

  • Flowering crabapple "Adirondack"

  • Lilac "Nadezhda", planted back in 2005, is blooming more heavily and beautifully than ever before.

  • Last late daffodils

  • First wave of azaleas

Growing nicely:
  • Crape myrtles (front and back) are leafing out

  • Peonies are up

  • Earliest daylily has buds and later ones are up

  • Korean lilac has buds

  • Early hostas are coming up

  • Siberian iris are up, in spite of needing to be divided

  • Echinaceas and rudbeckias planted last year are up

  • Clematis (what's the plural?) are up

  • Centaurea from Maine, dug up and de-weeded to its bare roots and moved, is budding anyway.

  • Buddleias are leafing out after being pruned

Annuals planted:
  • 2 packs of State Farm zinnias, labeled "mixed"

  • Pansies: Let Freedom Ring mix (front) and Antique Shaded (back)

  • Lacinto Kale and green chard

Saturday, April 03, 2010

It's Spring out there!

Spring is here, and it's yellow!
The forsythia is just past its peak and the midseason daffodils are coming along nicely. The lilacs will be blooming soon. The harsh winter seems to have agreed with them.

Today we made the season's first garden center visit and got 3 packs of mixed pansies (burgundy, lavender blue, and white) to be planted by the front steps tomorrow. I'm also planning to clean up my leftovers from pruning the buddleias and the unwelcome volunteer barberries. The one by the fence, which was being claimed by a mocking bird this morning, had an old nest in it, so I'm glad to have cut it down before another nest was built.
I found a clump of distinctive leaves in the lawn--very suggestive of a young blackeyed susan--so I dug it up and stuffed it in a pot. I'm always curious to see what turns up. The ones I planted on purpose last year are coming up. I think at least some of the echinaceas are also coming back.