Saturday, April 26, 2008


This is about the gardener's ever-present disconnect between the imagined and the real. You plan for a garden that is a pumped-up, hyper-real, sensory-assaulting tornado . . . and end up with a few drops of warm spit. In a rusty bucket.

Case in point: a spring bed that would punch together "Apricot Impression" and "Black Parrot" tulips. See that tiny dark flower in the lower left corner? That sad little punctuation point is a "Black Parrot" tulip. It looks like it's crouching in fear and trembling next to the taller, more vigorous "Apricot Impression" flowers. These guys definitely do not play well together.

The bed of "Mount Hood" daffodils running along the back property line has now dwindled to a single flower, blooming in solitary splendor.

Yes, it's lovely but . . . just one? And with all that daffodil foliage from other bulbs?

A few other spring bloomers have stepped in as consolation, like this pheasant's eye narcisssus Narcissus poeticus . . .

and these little fellows, perhaps "Tete-a-Tete" from a grandmother's Easter basket. Small is just right for them!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sunshine for the soul

Being in the garden for part of this past sunny weekend revealed some surprises. I am familiar with the way that the delicate blooms of Tulipa tarda are clamped shut at morning and evening . . .

. . . but blast open in the sun.

But the lush blooms of "Apricot Impression" held quite a surprise. The exteriors are tinted the most soft and subtle shades of pink, peach, and rose.

On a sunny afternoon, their interiors are splayed open, looking more like poppies--orange with a central sooty eye--than tulips.

Other changes has been taking place in the raingarden, where wet-tolerant plants like Joe Pye weed Eupatorium purpureum "Gateway," northern sea oats Chasmanthium latifolium, clethra "September Beauty," and three black-eyed susans Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii "Goldsturm" went in over the weekend. But it's not looking sunny around there yet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sweet seductions

Gardening this time of year is kind of like paying taxes. And not just because today, April 15, is filing day. The benefits of tax planning generally seem invisible, in the same way that the recent activities around here of pruning trees (late March) or fertilizing trees (early April) or planting dormant shrubs (mid-April) or removing winter mulches (today) are not very apparent. You might be in better financial health for all this labor, but wouldn’t it be sweeter to have a pair of Christian Louboutin peep-toe pumps to show for your fiscal savvy?

Yes, on tax day, it’s all too easy to get distracted by the bonanza of an economic stimulus package (insert cynical political comment here)--or by a burst of spring flowers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Flashing yellows: caution, spring is approaching

Spring in New England: Daffodils are blooming along the banks of the Charles River (and Youth Fours are busily rowing up and down its length)

Happy little Iris danfordiae are in flower.

You have to go nose to nose with them to see their lovely sprinkle of freckles. And who isn't cheered by freckles?

A ring of sunny pansies rims the planter on my front steps.

In my backyard, yellows that remain in bud are forthysia and narcissi. Spring is on its way!