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.

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