First daffodils of 2017: March 1

daffodil-march-1-2017So they didn’t start blooming in February, despite unseasonably warm days.

But I spotted on with my headlights on March 1, plus another already in bloom early on the 2nd that I am crediting to the 1st. So it looks like a new first bloom date for me, just barely. (The previous earliest date my records show is March 2, but usually it’s the second half of March.)

daffodil-2-march-2-2017

Then there’s this one that looks like it is just about unfurled and will bloom properly today.

daffodil3-march-2-2017

Will daffodils bloom in New Jersey in February?

daffodils-feb-25-2017These are awfully close …

This photo was taken on Saturday, the third straight day that highs were in the 70s. The 70s! In February! Madness! And it nearly reached 70 last weekend. (Accuweather now claims snow will start in 52 minutes. Uh huh. And that it will be 57 tomorrow.)

A guy in my Italian class on Saturday said he spotted one blooming in his yard, so I am betting the answer to my question is yes.

Last year I noted we had five blooming on March 10, another year when we had a mild winter¬†— and the first bloom on March 2 back in 2012. But usually they don’t emerge until the back half of March.

My Thanksgiving weekend dilemma

Planting these was a daunting task
Planting this big bag of bulbs was a daunting task

I bought more daffodil bulbs.

Yes, I know we have hundreds (likely 1,000+, since they keep naturalizing) already in the yard. Yes, I know I didn’t need more.

I tried to resist. I resisted the offer of two bags of 50 mixed bulbs for $12 at an area garden center. I resisted an email fall clearance offer, though after some internal debate. I resisted when a friend emailed about it, suggesting we go in on an order. Everything 35% off! But when he repeated the offer and said he was ordering the next day, I took another look. Not just at those listed in the email but all the daffodils on the website. And when I saw the mixed assortment of “double” daffodils — fragrant, frilly, showy — well, I caved.

Irrresistable, right?
Irresistable, right?

The smallest pack was 50 bulbs. But I’d already fallen off the wagon, so why show restraint now? I figured I’d get 100 and worry about where to plant them later.

Fortunately, my friend missed that part of my request and only ordered 50 for me.

I picked up the bulbs on Thanksgiving morning and just stared at the size of that bag. What had I done? Where would they all go? I didn’t know where the other bulbs were, just that they were all over the flower beds. And I’d moved some in the spring from a back bed that hasn’t worked out. At least then I could see where I could squeeze them in. But after all that, did I have any space left?

Just some of the daffodil bulbs I dug up and found new homes for in the spring.
Just some of the daffodil bulbs I dug up and found new homes for in the spring.

No time like the present to do a bit more “editing” of the beds .. thin out some, move some others. And yes, try to find room for daffodil bulbs.

I had some early success, but then it got hard. I’d dig — and slice through some bulbs. (I hope¬†they can heal.) Time to be more careful. I would find a spot — and tuck in one, maybe two bulbs. This was slow-going. I eventually got about 30 in the ground and had no idea where to put the last 20. I really didn’t want to create a fresh bed, and I didn’t want to put them in a section of the front beds where I’d rarely see them. Could I put them in one of the raised vegetable beds for the winter and transplant them in May or June, when I could see the gaps? That might mess up the spring peas, or the tomatoes or …

But maybe somewhere else where they could later be moved? I settled on a spot in front of our garden bench, visible from the kitchen window. It nicely connected a flower bed and a lemongrass plant that just expanded and expanded over the summer (and now is indoors) on one end and that weigela we’d planted in the spring on the other. (Yes, the bench will likely get squeezed out as the shrub grows.). Plus it was an excuse to clear out some mock strawberry (a pointless effort, I know, but it made me feel good). The bulbs will stretch along the length of the bench and beyond, look pretty in the spring and yet be easy to transplant.

Done!

When I’m tempted again next year, I should read this again and just keep saying no. Unless, of course, I’ve created a new bed in anticipation.

Just how early are the daffodils this year?

I’ll leave it to others to debate fluke mild winter vs. global warming. I’ll just point out that I spotted five daffodils blooming in our yard on Thursday, and two days later the number has quadrupled. I shouldn’t be surprised — we had them peeking up through the ground at Christmas, and temperatures hit 70 again this week.

Here’s what the blog tells me about when we first saw daffodils in other years:

2010 — March 19

2012 — March 2

2013 — March 21

2014 — April 1

Obviously my record-keeping is a bit(!) inconsistent.

Here are three of the blooms spotted this March 10:

Daffodils bloom early in New Jersey

The garden in April

((Apologies — this was written in April and then never published))

DaffodilsNo joke: Our first daffodil bloomed this year on April Fool’s Day.

As I look back at previous years, I realize just how late that is. I’ve blogged about the first blooming in early March one year, mid-March another year. But this was a brutal winter, with snow on the ground until mid-March (end of March before the last was gone from some parking-lot mounds or super-shady bits of the neighborhood), and even after that, we’d be teased with a wonderfully sunny spring day that would be followed by freezing temperatures and at least the threat of flakes.

But with April, we seem to finally be getting warmer temperatures. And today I can’t count the number that are in bloom. A couple of hundred for sure, I’d say, though almost exclusively two varieties: All bright yellow with a big trumpet or a very pale yellow with a bright yellow trumpet. The clumps are getting bigger, too, which means I need to put dividing daffodils and mixing them up more as I replant on the spring to-do list. (I’ll never find them if I wait until fall).

The forsythia is also running late. It looks like it could burst out tomorrow, though.

As for the seedlings in the basement, we have nowhere near a 100% germination rate. That’s probably a good thing, given how many seeds I planted! Though I’d have like a bit more variety than what we have. As it is, we’ve already transplanted 18 tomato seedlings out of seed-starter mix, including six Brandywines and even more of Sophie’s Choice, an extra-early determinate heirloom from Canada that apparently delivers relatively large, flavorful tomatoes. Determinate means all the flowers come at once, rather than continuing all summer, but I will be thrilled if we are eating garden tomatoes before the Fourth of July.

We also have some Blondkopfchen heirloom yellow cherry tomatoes and a couple of Ananas Noir heirlooms, which I think will be mostly green with more red at the base and then more green inside. If nothing else, they will add some interesting contrast to a plate of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.

Clearly I’ll be giving plenty of these away (this year’s bed has room for eight plants, though maybe I can get away with two Sophie Choice plants elsewhere, or in containers, to say nothing of the neighbor’s raised bed…), but hopefully I’ll also be able to swap for a different variety or two.

Spring looks

On the second day of spring, our first daffodil bloomed. Now we have hundreds out. The forsythia is just starting to fade, the creeping phlox is starting to bloom and those pesky white-flowered weeds are everywhere! (I fear the core aeration from the fall hasn’t helped, though I also know lots of them seeded last summer.)

Some shots from the yard:

crocuses start to bloom in February
Back in February…
The first daffodil, in March
The first daffodil
Lots of daffodils in the backyard in mid-April
The backyard in mid-April
Daffodils and hyacinths along the driveway
Daffodils and hyacinths along the driveway
Forsythia, mid-April
Forsythia, mid-April
Putting down a new path with old mulch
Putting down a new path with old mulch

Late Daffodils

The big drifts have faded, no doubt hastened by the heat. But these varieties have been in bloom over the past week or so:

I’m thinking we must have between 10 and 12 varieties of daffodils in the beds. Until we bought the house and started planting, I had no idea there were so many varieties.