Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring blues

Welcome to spring in New England.  To ring in the equinox, last week, the professionals cleared out a winter's worth of lawn thatch, leaves and twigs. Over the weekend, I sprinkled about 10 lbs. of fertilizer over the spreads of naturalized and bedded bulbs. And, then, the next day, it snowed.

Iced irises: Iris reticulata "Katherine Hodgkin"
While the daffodil foliage is about six inches high and a few varieties are even starting to bloom, most of the bulbs are still a few weeks away from hitting their stride. Thank you, global warming: the garden thinks that it's April in March. Until it's February in March. And back again.

Saturday, March 05, 2016


Please tell me that spring is just around the corner, and it's okay to hit the button on a garden re-boot: plants to order, spaces to plan, and the smell of warming earth to anticipate. Pay no attention to the snow squalls swirling and spinning today.

One of the first spring start-up efforts has to go towards overhauling my dahlia situation.  After several years of the lazy person's approach to tuber overwintering, these plants are simply not flowering as heavily as they should. The glory of dahlias is their shameless, perhaps vulgar, garishness--blooms ranked as "dinner plate" size and sparking neon bright--but even those varieties more restrained in appearance bring a much needed energy to the late summer garden. 

Because I primarily cut dahlias for indoors arrangements, I'm casting about for a color palette in shades of apricot, fuschia, and maroon and a flower size that fits comfortably into a table-top vase.

Dahlia palette (
The American Dahlia Society has classified flowers by size, shape, and color, so it's possible to sort through the vertiginous array of varieties.  Because the most popular types sellout quickly and no nurseries carry an encyclopedic selection, I typically end up placing orders with a number of suppliers: this year, Arrowhead, Swan Island, and Ferncliff Gardens.

Kelsey Radiance (CO DB = collarette, dark blend) 
Rose Toscano (M FD OR = less than 4", formal decorative, orange)
Lights Out (M FD DR = less than 4", formal decorative, dark red)
Uptown Girl (BB FD DP = 4"-6", formal decorative,  dark pink)

Can't wait for the deliveries, along with warm weather and sunshine, to arrive in April.  Can planting time be so very far away?