Getting Started

I feel like I really need to get going on the seed-planting. After all, Memorial Day is just over two months away (!) and I’ll want my tomato plants in the ground that weekend. And it’s not like it takes a lot of time to fill a few seedling containers with soil and stick in some seeds. But somehow it’s all happening awfully slowly. Blame it on that commute, a longer work week because Europe hasn’t yet made the shift to daylight savings time and a few other distractions.

So tonight we headed to the basement for another round. I planted three pots each of three types of tomato seeds I’ve been given: the deliciously named Bloody Butcher, Ananas Noire (bi-color yellow and red–can’t wait!) and an Italian heirloom paste. That’s on top of the six types (18 pots) of tomatoes planted over the weekend. The Brit planted lobelia.

I really only want one of each type of tomato; the other two are for insurance. If they all come up, I will be giving plants away–remember, I only have room for 18 plants. And I still have another nine or so varieties I’d like to plant. Hopefully I’ll keep them straight til I get (at least) one of each in the ground.

More Spring Discoveries

Today I wandered into the backyard and the forsythia look like they’ll be blooming within a week. (Maybe days, if it stays this warm and sunny?)

I also found a daffodil tucked in the back, near forsythia, that certainly seems ready to flower in a few days.


One Lenten Rose is blooming nicely and is expanding, even if the leaves are looking beaten. I think it was blooming just before all that snow hit. But the two near the deck are really struggling. I wonder what’s so different. Is the groundhog harassing them?

Happy Helleborus
And unhappy helleborus

Finally, I brushed aside leaves on the moss covering the ground under the downstairs bedroom’s window, and hostas are starting to push through. They’re the whiter spots in the photo:

Search for signs of hostas

After the Deluge, Spring!

I was so excited to leave the office yesterday and have sunshine! And it was warm! It was still light once I got home, so of course I grabbed the loppers and started the spring clean.
Today was even warmer! Everyone has spring fever. I saw people on bikes, and neighbors came over to chat as I lopped some more. It’s the first time I’ve seen some for months, or so it seems. I’m planning Friday’s corn gluten purchase with one (it’s a good byproduct of corn syrup — a non-chemical pre-emergent!)
In the garden, it’s been wonderful to see so many crocuses in bloom–bright yellows, deep purples, gleaming whites, a few bicolors or palers ones. I don’t remember having so many, so I am hoping they are naturalizing and in a few more years I will have even more.
I saw a few mini daffodils in bloom as I was driving today. Ours aren’t that far along, but some are starting to develop flower heads (for lack of a better term) and could be blooming soon. Some are just stems, and a few speared clumps of shredded leaves as they pushed higher.
As I moved leaves off the soil, I found yet more peeking above the ground. The front bed was full last April, and I can’t wait for this year’s show!

I cleared away stems and flower heads from last year’s blooms on many perennials, and it is thrilling to see how much some have grown (those red-hot pokers!) or bits of green starting to come through. The deer have taken a few bites from younger irises and the centers of the red-hot pokers, but nothing major. Unlike the azalea bush, which barely has any leaves! That deer candy may need a new home.

This is part of the result of my spring clean:

The one bad thing: the neighbors and I spotted the first mosquito of the year. It’s enough to wish for one last deep freeze that kills them off.

Wet, Wet, Wet

We came back from Colorado to find the yard finally clear of snow for the first time in a month. Unfortunately, we missed the 58-degree days and it’s now raining so hard that I see puddles in the lawn and wonder if the crocuses will drown. I’m clearly not going out before I have to (which unfortunately is in a few hours), so there goes my plan of photographing what’s in bloom and starting the spring clean.

Instead, I’m sharing photos from the Chicago Garden and Flower Show, sent by a friend.

These are her descriptions: They had a theme this year books/movies and using plants to represent it. Pretty cute. The main theme was the intermixing of herbs/small vegetables and other plants – companion planting. Lots of kale/cabbage/thyme/swiss chard. Not terribly creative, but some of the designs were clever.

And then the photos:

This one was the most fun: Alice In Wonderland. Her dress was arbor vitate for the green and roses for the red, then plenty of low-growing plants.

This was part of a much larger display of an English garden setting. It was sponsored by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and their design was Macbeth in the Garden (don’t remember Macbeth being much in the garden…). I liked the boxwood/primrose checkerboard here.

This was part of a Wizard of Oz design – this was a “dress.” It’s essentially several types of coleus arranged in what seem to be planters. But I like the varieties they have here.

So this one was strictly for show.  It was ivy and some greenery along the base and red carnations along the mouth. It made for a cute display, even if it wasn’t something to do at home…

Fig Update

Fig tree in March 2010
Waist-high before the Ides of March

Our fig tree isn’t a good sleeper.

We tucked our baby tree in  the basement for the winter, or so we
thought. But it seems that tiny north-facing window in the basement kept it from going dormant. When we checked on it, it was sprouting new branches and pale green leaves.

We finally conceded defeat about 10 days ago and brought it upstairs, where it has continued to grow and the leaves to darken. To us, it looks healthy. Must be all that compost that was mixed in with the soil! At least we hope it’s a good sign for this growing season. Whether we will dare plant it in the ground and leave it bundled in burlap some winter is another matter, particularly after 45 to 50 inches of snow this year (or so the weather experts claim).