Failure

I am a failure. I see grand, wide spreading displays of snowdrops or crocus in gardens, then compare my sad and paltry few. (I make only cursory mention of common, “can’t fail” perennials that have died three or more times.)The verdict is clear. I am not growing these properly, or I’ve planted far too few….

Finally, spring

Recent mild winters have spoiled gardeners, now expecting abundant flowers by early March, and in February in gardens that have been planted with assorted late winter bloomers such as witch hazels and hellebores. Mild disappointment is likely when flowers arrive a few weeks later (a more typical schedule), and perhaps the start of this flowering…

The late hellebores are only slightly tardy

However he is tempted, the gardener should never claim “there’s never been a winter like this one”. Every one is unique, with highs and lows and perhaps wild swings from the average, but there’s something unusual and much that is typical in every season. The one that is now thankfully past was very typical, with…

Chopping out a cypress

The back third of the garden remains impassable, not literally, but good judgment dictates that more harm than good is done by forging ahead and destroying lawn that is fully saturated. Yesterday, following a few days without rain, I ventured close to try again, but backed away when I saw deer tracks that had sunk…

The early hellebores are late

Even the early hellebores are late this year. Occasionally, there will be a few scattered blooms before the new year in this garden, and often there will be handfuls flowering late in January. This year, there was a single hellebore with a few flowers in early February, but no more until the past week or…

Better late …..

In January, there was widespread concern, though none in this garden, that daffodils grown three inches tall, with the worst of winter ahead, would surely be damaged by cold. Six weeks later, these have hardly grown another inch, though the start of flowers are visible on some. As is usual, the common ‘February Gold’ will…

No hurry?

I must be patient, no matter that I am not, and never will be. Many dozens of tiny corms and rhizomes were planted at various times last year, somewhere, with a few marked by small bamboo stakes placed afterwards to the best of my recollection, which is often not so good. Locations will not be…

What to do, or not

I tire quickly reading monthly or seasonal lists of chores that must be accomplished in the garden. Certainly, lists are appreciated by some, but I’ve no doubt that lengthy lists can be a discouragement to casual gardeners to even get started. I readily ignore admonishments and go about my business, doing just enough in early…

The perfect tree, probably not

Perusing a recently delivered catalog with many out of the ordinary plant offerings, I am tortured by the listing of a Dove tree with variegated foliage. Rarely do I curse my too frequent neglect and occasional loss of new acquisitions, but by sheer idiocy a young twig of a Dove tree (Davidia involucrata ‘Lady Sunshine’)…

Distractions from winter

The first small steps have begun to tidy the garden for spring. It is quite a mess, perhaps worse than usual with inordinate areas of mud and the usual piles of leaves. I have attempted, with limited success, to stay clear of well trodden paths, particularly the narrow, swampy area that leads to the lower…

Two Dianes and other witch hazels

Curiously, two witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia), the red flowered ‘Diane’ and copper colored ‘Jelena’, flowered in mid-autumn, with no weather related cause that I could determine. I was, of course, concerned at the time that flowering then would mean no blooms in February, an unwelcome tradeoff since there are numerous other flowers in autumn,…

More swampiness

I don’t believe it’s possible for the lower half of the garden to be any soupier than it is today. The repeated cycle of freezing and thawing opens air pockets in the soil that are now filled with moisture from recent snow, ice, and rain so that every step in the back lawn leaves a…