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.

The Iris cristata looked enticing enough to the rabbits for some cautious nibbling. This appears to be the only damage. Photographed on January 15, 2023.

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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.

The fig started horizontally after the rough winter’s end. Photographed on June 2, 2021.

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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?”

Foreshadowing Summer

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.

The Baptisia is in full bloom by the garden entrance. Photographed on May 31, 2022.

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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.

A morel. Photographed on May 7, 2022.

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May Natives: Flashy, Until They’re Not

May is the showiest month in my garden. A lot of flowers bloom, including many natives. Which one is my favorite? The one I am standing in front of at that moment.

Take Dutchman’s breeches, for example. It’s in the same family as bleeding hearts, but far more ephemeral. They started breaking ground the first week of April, were blooming by the beginning of May, and completely gone by the end of May. That’s just two months of the year aboveground.

Dutchman’s breeches, the second early flower in this small flower bed, which they share with daylilies, daffodils, and crocuses. Photographed on May 1, 2022.

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A Lot Can Happen in a Week

We are roughly two weeks behind where we were last year, based on last year’s photographs. Everything I mention in this post was in bloom at this time last year. The weather changes so much from year to year that I cannot tell you which year is closer to normal—or if there is a normal any more.

Weather aside, I love spring ephemera and will search for them doggedly from mid-March on as long as it’s not pouring rain. They are mostly very small, so I have to actually walk away from the window, go outside, and exercise my eyes looking for changes. Changes are rapid, so there is plenty of incentive to go outside frequently.

Dutchman’s breeches, left, and twinleaf , right, erupt from the ground with flower buds. Photographed on April 3, 2022.

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Aprilish Snow Precedes Cold Snap

A couple of people I chatted with on Friday used the “s” word when mentioning this weekend’s weather. My response was “Bite your tongue!” After all, our April snowstorm isn’t due for another week or two.

I was wrong. It snowed yesterday, looking very much like an April snow. It stopped before 10 a.m. It was the sort of snow shower that causes weather people to say “It will stick to the lawns, but not to the sidewalks.” (They do still warn you to be careful driving across bridges and overpasses.)

Snow-capped witch hazel flowers. Photographed on March 26, 2022.

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Signs of Spring and Hungry Rabbits

Looking over the photos on my phone, I begin to understand why I haven’t written much this winter. I have a lot of photographs of my icy sidewalk as I struggled to keep up with it. Several years ago the city required us to replace our sidewalk, and the inspector who came out insisted we lower it. We did. There has been runoff onto our sidewalk after heavy rain ever since, but it was not a problem until last month’s weird storm. The sidewalk was still extremely warm when it hit; I took the last set of icy-sidewalk photographs on February 21, and by the following day it was melted. Finally. All that fretting scraping and chipping gave me a chance to keep an eye on the witch hazel. Continue reading “Signs of Spring and Hungry Rabbits”