The previous post dealt with mostly traditional, old-fashioned flowers. This one will cover the native ephemera and Iris cristata, which is native to the US, but not to Michigan, although it thrives here. Oh, yes—and a tiny volunteer rose—I have no idea where it came from. Continue reading “Mostly Native Spring Ephemera”
Is It Spring Yet?
It is, but in early April, the most profuse flowers remain the snowdrops. Squirrels love to rearrange them, but they don’t seem to eat them, and neither do the rabbits, although they did cautiously nibble on one last year.
Winter Flowers and the Promise of Spring
The six weeks from mid-February to the beginning of April are very busy in the yard, but if you are not actively looking for changes, you will probably miss them.
Witch hazel is the first plant to bloom each year, sometime between the end of January and mid-February. It blooms later if early winter is mild than it does if it gets cold early. It seems to need some chill time followed by a few days above freezing in order for the buds to unfurl.
The Trouble With Scilla
Scilla seem to be trouble. They spread exuberantly—in the case of Scilla bifolia, only slightly less quickly than measles. I am waiting anxiously to see what Scilla, if any, appear this spring.
Alpine squill, Scilla bifolia, is about 3 inches tall when it blooms. How can such a pretty, teeny-tiny plant be so virulently fecund? The planting bed under the witch hazel has had only a few stray seedlings, but the lawn had a zillion before I went after them with a trowel in April 2022. They are a little unpredictable—some underground portions are short, some are long, and some curve around obstructions.
This plant is problematic in a lawn. A dandelion digger misses a lot of bulbs, even if you are able to snap everything above the bulb off. A long trowel gets more bulbs, but it leaves the lawn looking bedraggled until it rains.
Then there is Siberian squill. It was brought in a few years ago by one of our numerous squirrels and spread into a pretty blue swath under the hemlock.
After my experience with its tiny little cousin, I decided I better read up on it, since I seemed to have a lot of seedlings this spring.
Scilla siberica has discreet seedpods, each of which contain several seeds, according to Cowling Arboretum, at Carleton College in Minnesota.
It was worth the time to dig this patch up before it got out of hand. If you look carefully, you will see several young plants were nestled in with the full-sized plant.
Ugh. If I turn my back on this problematic patch, I will have a blue yard! I like blue, but not at the expense of everything else.
We will see what next spring brings. We started spring in 2022 “abnormally dry,” and had a lot of rain alternating with short but somewhat deadly dry spells. The pawpaw stump sprout expired last August, probably due to lack of rain, but this winter has been rather wet.
December toyed with us. Temperatures averaged 2.1° F above normal according to the National Weather Service (NWS), and we had just over half the average snowfall. Snow was predicted for Christmas, which we got, but two days before that, we awoke to temperatures below zero. The windows glittered.
Thinking Ahead to Spring and Weeding
It all started when I was taking out the compostables Saturday. The ground had finally frozen solid! I dumped the compostables into the bin and took a brief prowl around the yard to check on the rabbits’ depredations. They mostly come out at night, so sometimes I see them sitting under the willow-leaved Amsonia or eating safflower seed that has been flung about by the finches when they careen into the feeder when I am cleaning up after dinner. Yes, they eat safflower seed, on top of everything else.
So far this winter, they have eaten the parsley and nibbled on the garlic. They have mowed the blue-eyed grass and tried the Iris cristata, which they have never bothered before.
A Fig’s Year…and a Half
I decided that the alien marshmallow was a lot of effort for iffy results. Theoretically I could bury the fig, but there are probably roots from the smoke bushes—so, no room. So I wrap it; on January 2, 2021, I bundled that little tree up like a kindergartener walking to school on an arctic day, as I had done the previous winter. It was a winter of temperature swings, but it seemed OK until late March 2021, about when you would expect temperatures to moderate somewhat. They did not; they oscillated from the low teens some nights to 71°F highs three times in 13 days.
Is the Dwarf Japanese Solomon’s Seal Dead?
It may seem brutal, but one of the goals for this garden is minimal or no supplementary watering. I posted what I thought was an alarming picture of a beleaguered section of dwarf Japanese Solomon’s seal, wondering if the problem was too much sun or too little rain, in another post.
It got worse. We started the year with precipitation well below normal—we had relatively little snow last winter—and then we had periods of entrained rainstorms followed by several sunny, breezy days this spring. It was relentlessly breezy, and sometimes hot as well. Continue reading “Is the Dwarf Japanese Solomon’s Seal Dead?”
Purple greets you at the entry to the garden. The Baptisia australis, also known as blue false indigo, that first poked above ground May 1 is in full bloom. Disturbingly rare this year are the bumblebees that usually adorn these plants.
An Appreciation of Rain
We started the year dry, and the weather patterns are so all-over-the-place that it’s worth stopping to appreciate the rain.
It’s a secret—don’t tell anyone—but almost as often as not, morels come up in this yard. This year a few appeared and disappeared in the first week of May.