April’s fool

Under the cover of a breezy, cold, gray March afternoon three Japanese maples and a Parrotia were planted in the garden, and beds were cut out of the rear lawn to accommodate the shrubs and perennials that will be planted in the coming weeks. Stealth is required whenever any portion of lawn is removed, and certainly when trees are planted. My wife zealously guards the property against further garden expansion, but she will rarely venture outdoors in cool weather, so this is the best opportunity for adding to the garden, and diminishing the lawn.

Once the damage is done, the sod removed and the trees planted, it is too late, she knows. I don’t really believe that she seriously wants to put a halt to growing the garden anyway, so I don’t feel guilty at all in planting surreptitiously. And why should I need approval anyway? It’s my garden, and it would be a different matter if the lawn was needed for baseball, or badminton, or any of the other activities that were possible in the wide open lawn we had when the kids were younger.

Someday I’ll be dead and gone, and heaven help the poor soul who tries to keep up with the garden without a team of weeders and pruners. The lawn is now to the size that I could mow with a push mower instead of a tractor, which means that the garden beds have grown to cover most of the acre and a quarter property. In a few weeks the planting beds surrounding the Japanese maples will be planted and mulched, and I’ll snap a few photos then, but here are a few from today so that we can keep  pace with the progression of blooms as March turns to April.

Thankfully, the native red maples are nearly past bloom. The flowers go unnoticed by most people, and they’re not showy enough to consider the maple a flowering tree, but my allergies alert me when they begin to bloom. Fortunately, I don’t have such a drastic reaction to other pollens, and I can’t complain much this year since regular rainfall has kept the pollen count down.

With cool, cloudy days through much of the second half of March, many blooms are a bit behind schedule, and the magnolias are no exception. The buds were not damaged at all by the recent freezing temperatures, and with warmer weather and sun in the forecast for the start of the week the magnolias will open quickly.

Edgeworthia (above) and mahonias (below) have also bloomed a little later, but with  cool temperatures the flowers will last a few weeks longer. A year ago the blooms of Edgeworthia were damaged a bit by a few nights when temperatures dropped near zero, but this winter the low in my garden was six or seven above, so they have bloomed fully.

The narrow yellow leaves of Ogon spirea (below) are its primary attraction, though the shrub requires regular pruning to tame its unmannered growth habit. The small, white flowers appear late in March and persist for only a few weeks. In prior years I have not appreciated them, but this early spring they have grown on me a bit. 

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