Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Travel Day.

Today I'll be heading to Robert's to help him with some projects in his yard. We're going to plant some shrubs, decide on some planting bed layouts, and I'll give him some suggestions for future plantings. In my own yard, spring is advancing rapidly.

The irises are growing almost daily.

Gold Flame Spirea is putting out new foliage.

Variegated Miscanthus is returning.

Ligustrum Howardii has tons of new growth. These were purchased from the clearance rack last fall with a few leaves and lots of sticks.

Even the Japanese Maple is leafing out.

The first of the returning hostas has emerged.

It's 39 degrees. We should see a high again in the upper 70s. Tomorrow, I'll spend most of my day weeding the perennial bed and planting out as many containers as I can manage.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Cleaning.

I spent this morning cleaning up the hoophouse and storing all the pieces in the basement. The cardboard under the concrete pavers has nearly disintegrated. The pavers were used to create a makeshift path through the upper meadow around the fruit trees and down to the lower area of the back yard. I also used a few to provide a walkable surface between my three lower beds. In a couple of weeks, I'll be getting a truck load of compost for the two beds that still need more soil. It's good stuff, made by the neighbor of a coworker.

In one bed, the wintersown cabbage are doing great. I hope they have time to head before it gets really hot. I never have much luck with spring cabbages. I need to remember to do them again in the fall.

Ahh...feels good not to see all that "trash" in the backyard.

Now it all resides in the driveway. It'll be gone in another month or less. The high temperatures in the 80s this week should cause some rapid growth with my seedlings.

More "trash" will soon become lattice and trellises for pole beans and cucumbers. These came from a grove behind a coworker's house. She told me to take all I want and come back for more if I need it.

The figs have been repotted.

Lots of planting out this morning. I'm taking a chance on no more frosts, I know.

It's 57 degrees, up from a low of 52. The high should reach 70 shortly after lunchtime.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Regarding Daffodoils.

In the fall, I planted 4 bags containing a little more than 100 mixed daffodils each. Obviously, they weren't quite as mixed as I would have liked. I counted 5 non-yellow blooms this afternoon. Three are on the front slope and another two in the backyard.

The slope.

The backyard.

The uncommon one.

Though it's hard to see, the dogwood leaves are the size of mouse ears.

It's 63 degrees. The sun is shining, sometimes. It's a nice day to work outside. More rain possibly this evening.

The Big Dig.

It's that time again. I'm preparing myself for the digging that will need to be done this week. I've lost track of how many containers I've sown since I started on December 21. There are a lot of them.

I've got 2-liter bottles stuffed with seedlings. Most have some germination in them.

I've got those pansy containers and styrofoam cups in the hoophouse. I took the cover off last week when it appeared we'd have no more freezing nights and only the occasional chance of frost.

The tender annuals and cuttings on the metal shelf are doing well too. I'm sure the rain and coming 80 degree weather will cause some rapid growth later this week.

There are also the overwintered plants that spent three months in the basement. I could probably plant these out too with the understanding that they will need to be covered if a frost is predicted. Many of the brugs will be stripped of foliage before planting. Aphids have returned with a vengeance.

The Black Mission fig tip cuttings need to be potted into individual containers. These will be given out to people at work, my sister, and anyone else that wants a fig tree.

Tomorrow morning, I'll spend a couple hours working on sorting and preparing for the big dig on Thursday, when I have a day off that's not promised to someoene else. On Wednesday, I'll be heading to Robert's to repay him for the electrical work he did in the kitchen last fall. We'll be choosing shrubs and landscaping the front of his house.

I'm not looking forward to digging all these holes in the rocky soil here. The mattock will get a workout. So will my back and shoulders. But the results will be evident in a few short months as these plants grow and bloom. At least it will be warm.

It's 57 degrees this morning. We saw some heavy rain and wind last night. Today's high will reach 63. More rain in the forecast today. Scattered seeds should start germinating this week.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It's 45 degrees. The temperature will slowly rise to the low 60s this afternoon as the storms move in. We've got chances of thunderstorms and rain all evening and night.

In honor of the rain, the Thundercloud Plum has decided to bloom.

This plum tree has purple-red leaves and pink blossoms. It was transplanted in the fall from the perennial bed. It's about a week late in blooming this year. I suppose it could be the cold winter, or maybe the move. In any case, another few days will show it completely in bloom. Only a few scattered branches are showing any color yet.

The Belle of Georgia peach is still blooming away. The blossoms have turned a darker color. The leaves are coming on nicely.

Before work, I'll dig out the Lagerfeld rose in the Neighbor's Corner. I'm giving it to Marty, a customer at the store. She brought me beautyberry starts in the fall and seeds for a blue milkweed, Tweedia caerulea. I've already sown them. Soon, I'll start giving away the brugmansias to people who have asked about them. I also plan to sow the rest of my datura seeds in the new fragrant bed outside the basement door. I need to spread the broken bags of soil that have been sitting in the basement for weeks first.

9:11am - I've spread three bags of topsoil and a bag of pine mulch over the newest bed. For two weeks, I've been spraying the weeds and grass here with RoundUp. I'm sure the wire grass will continue to pop up through the season. It has in all the beds I've created along the retaining wall and basement door. I'll spot treat and pull whenever I see it. Datura, marigolds, and four o'clocks have been sown here.

A splash of rain passed through as I was digging the Lagerfeld for Marty. There was a bit of blue sky a few minutes later. The sun is shining now.

The "dead" Loropetalums are blooming.

The Eastern Redbuds are opening. They're pink. I don't know why they call them redbuds.

The first of 100+ muscari has pushed up a bloom stalk. There was supposed to be a blue stream amongst the daffodils on the front slope. So far, only a handful have pushed through the soil. This one is in the crape myrtle bed.

Peonies at the end of the driveway are up. I transplanted these from Virginia last March. I really hope they bloom a bit better this year. They don't like to be disturbed.

Larkspur by the perennial bed arbor.

It's still 45 degrees. We should start to climb soon. It's going to be a rough afternoon of storms from the looks of the radar.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tomatoes and tender annuals.

The forecast called for 34 degrees last night. At 4am, it's 39 degrees. At 7am, it will drop a few degrees before rising again. I hope we make it without a frost. Just in case, I covered my seed rack containing the tender annuals that have been sprouting all week. There's a lot of pineapple sage out there.

The tomatoes and all my overwintered plants are in the basement. I forgot the fern and the tropicals on the front porch. Que sera, sera. The sprouting tomatoes are inside. This is my second batch. I'm using the wintersown method this time.

Possibly our last cold night, the 10 day forecast looks positively wonderful.

It's now 36 degrees.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A stick in the mud.

Last year, I cut back my butterfly bushes near the end of February. Because I'd been told before to just "stick that there where you want it to grow", I pushed the cuttings deep into the soil in the perennial bed. Those sticks rooted and turned into nice sized plants that were dug and given to Carla a couple months ago. Successfully rooting a few plants outdoors, in the native soil, I decided to give it a shot again this year. Over the past week, I've been sticking all sorts of things around the backyard. The soil is very moist this year thanks to all the winter rain.

Saucer Magnolia

Sweet Shrub


Mock Orange

Double pink althea




Burning Bush


I don't expect all of these sticks to turn into plants. However, even after two sunny days in the mid 70s, all of the ones with leaves are still looking healthy and not wilting. Some are easier to root than others using more traditional methods. It's an experiment, like a lot of what I do. If it's successful, it means no transplanting later, nice colorful spring blooming shrubs all around the edge of the backyard, and nothing but a couple hours of time spent outside on warm days.

It's 59 degrees this morning. The high today should reach the mid 60s. We had a little rain last night. When the clouds roll out this afternoon, the temperature will drop. Tonight, we might have a chance of frost. The predicted low is 34. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that so much warm weather this past week has warmed the soil enough to keep the frost at bay.

12:47pm - It's 64 degrees. At the store, we've been busy as usual. I've put out nearly 20 carts of shrubs and flowers with others left that I won't get to today. It's kind of hectic.

Two customers came in this morning. The first had a clump of blooming twigs in her hand. She wanted to know what they were. She'd lived in her house for 5 years and had never seen these trees bloom. They are flowering crabapples. She lives on Montgomery Avenue. These are hers.

The next customer had a piece of a red camellia with yellow center. She wanted to know what it was. She had never seen it bloom before. I asked where she got them. She said from the woods off Brown Avenue. These are the blooms she brought in.

So I've met two "neighbors" in the past 4 hours. They all know my house and the yard. Both were full of compliments. It's good to put faces to houses.

On the front slope, the daffodils have filled in. In the years to come, there will be lots more.

The tulips have opened.

And the Morris Plum is blooming in the orchard.

I've got three more hours to work. It's starting to look like rain. Easter liles have arrived. The price dropped $2 this morning. Get them while you can. Boston ferns are $7 each. We've sold more than 400 in the past 2 days. I have 7 carts of 48 coming in the morning. We're out.