Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Secret Pleasures

A sense of humor is essential to the lifestyle garden and I got a good laugh out of the above pictured Galanthus (snow drops). I had long ago lost track of the name and all memory of planting this little patch of snow drops next to my driveway, but I was looking at them this spring and was struck by how the flowers seemed strangely fat. Upon closer inspection I discovered they were doubles. Of course, you can't tell the flowers are doubles unless you turn them upside down. I found this all both gratifying and mildly humorous. It is like a private little secret of mine that I can enjoy any time I want to tip up one of the flowers, and they really are beautiful if I take the time to look.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

These Modest Flowers are Eagerly Awaited

Some Brits seem to be over the top for snowdrops (Galanthus). They are certainly one of the most welcome of plants to see bloom but...

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)is cheap, reliable and a spot of pleasure in an otherwise bleak landscape.

Witch-hazel varieties like this one (Arnold Promise) deliver on the promise of something cheerful to look at early in the spring warm-up.

Winter finally broke. The snow hasn't all melted yet, but it is on the run, and my thermometer says 70 degrees, yippee. People seem to come out of the woodwork on these first warm days of spring and walk around the public garden I work for (Kingwood Center), presumably expecting the landscape to be transformed. I suppose they are disappointed to find the duck feeding with the kids is inhibited by the ice that still covers about 90% of the pond, and there is precious little sign of spring in the gardens. There are a few things blooming and they are the topic of my lifestyle garden homily for today. These first few warm days of March are hugely important to people's spirits. Give yourself a reward on these sorts of days by having those handful of super-early bloomers in your yard like the three pictured above. They may not compare to what is to come, but they are probably some of the most appreciated flowers in the garden.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Enduring Snow

Its been a long winter (albiet pretty as the above image of my driveway suggests). I can't recall having such a long period of continuous snow cover; and its not just some snow; its been mostly a foot or more. I lost patience a few of weeks ago and went out to a grove of young black locusts that I like to call my "coppice" in order to do some "forest management." This is how I have fun when I'm not digging in the dirt. Just walking around in the deep snow was about as much exercise as I could manage. I couldn't even bring a wagon to haul anything away. I like to stay active in the garden and landscape throughout the year. Typically there are plenty of things to do in the winter that are productive and that will reduce the work load in the growing season. I have to admit to being largely thwarted this winter. Today is March second and the snow is only ever so gradually melting. Instead of borrowing a log splitter I have been splitting my wood by hand, since I had the time, the energy and the glorious luxury of a barn to work in.