Sunday, March 29, 2009

Setting the stage

Before the weekend weather went wet, overcast, and as atmospheric as a Whistler nocturne, there were a few happy hours of preparing the garden for spring.

Some 40 pounds of composted manure were dug into the larkspur and sweet pea beds in anticipation of a first (pea) or follow-up (larkspur) cool-weather sowing. The bed along the back property line was raked out of wood-chopping debris and old leaves; ivy was cut back to the limits of the stone retaining wall.

I am eager to dig, compost, rake--setting the stage for the season!

Friday, March 20, 2009

So the season starts

Mid-March, and it's difficult to reconcile the sheet of ice still slicking the backyard with the maroon ticker counting down to a final frost date at right. However, lengthening days, bulbs nosing up through the dirt, and sights of (sadly not my) witch hazel in bloom signal the start of the season.

I celebrated getting back to composting with a past-their-prime bouquet of daffodils.

And last--or nearly last--plant orders were placed. A holiday gift certificate to White Flower Farm went to two dahlias (Dahlia Karma Choc and American Dawn--what are gift certificates for but heedless splurging? ) and three Thymus serpyllum Coccineus. This pink-flowering creeping thyme grows happily along the the edge of the front retaining wall. In the winter, its green leaves change to a deep shade of purple. So more, I say! Let's start the season!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Faith restored

After suffering a crisis of confidence that this "Royal Velvet" amaryllis would survive an affliction of soft spots and moldy roots, my faith is restored.

It has sent up two stalks topped with eight flowers. The color is difficult to capture: it is a deep, saturated, and slightly bluish shade of red. Luscious in real life. Here, sunlight catches the yellow tips of the stamens curving from a flower's throat.

My big lesson here is basic amaryllis care: cut soft spots from bulbs, do not plant bulbs without removing soft spots, trim off any mushy areas. How else can I phrase it? So glad that I took the knife to this one--a couple of cuts saved its life.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First snowdrops

Snowdrops in the early morning light. They are starting to slip out of their flower sheaths. Can spring be far behind?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Minerva at three years

This Minerva amaryllis has been with me three years now. Each year the flower looks a little different--or maybe my recollection slips slightly. I don't remember the bright green throat but its sharp lime color gives a nice kick to the red and white peppermint stripes. Happy!