Even the most cautious gardener must now be confident that the threat of frost has passed, and now he is free to plant goodies, no matter how tender. Several weeks ago, I could not wait any longer to plant several variegated fatsias (Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’, below), so they were planted with more cold in the forecast. Of course, this was calculated that the fatsias could tolerate frost, if not freezing temperatures, and all has worked for the best. While fatsias are rated cold hardy to zero, I have my doubts, and variegated versions on most plants are typically less cold hardy, so later this year I’ll dig a few to bring in, and leave a few outdoors, probably to die.
Tropicals have been hauled from the basement to the shaded rear patio with mixed results from the long indoor stay. Elephant ears were left outside one night too long in early November as I returned from business travel on a twenty-eight degree night, too weary to bother until morning. Still, they are not bad, considering, and once acclimated to the outdoors I must move them into the sun where they will revive quickly.
Sadly, agaves will not recover so quickly from the winter’s mistreatment, though this is an overdue opportunity to divide the dense clumps. Sharp spines are reason enough not to do this as frequently as needed, but with half the agaves brown from freeze and lack of care, the bloody chore will be more easily managed. I’ve been advised more than once that dividing the agaves is much easier if spines are clipped off, and of course it is, but that is tedious work and also reason not to undertake the dividing.
A recently acquired limestone bench (above) was moved into the garden yesterday with some difficulty, but no crushed body parts, though with several close calls. The heavy base and four foot slab bounced over roots and path stones in the wheelbarrow, endangering toes enroute to the garden’s wooded border. The level of the seating slab is slightly off with a large root beneath one side, but it’s hardly enough to notice, and good enough for the garden.
I don’t know that I’ll do much sitting on the bench, though already my wife has taken a liking to this shaded spot. I don’t do much sitting, except by the koi pond, but it’s an appropriately rustic bench for this garden, even with a polished top which will soon be soiled by droppings from overhanging tulip poplars and varied detritus that wafts through the garden.
Typically for early May, there are many blooms along with a few surprises, and a disappointment or two. Unsurprisingly, there are flowers that I don’t recall planting, and unplanned successes. The native groundcover Gold Star (Chrysogonum virginianum, above) is unremarkable (but green) for much of the year, but it has spread nicely over ground riddled with surface roots and a bare amount of soil. Somehow, in inhospitable conditions, it has hopped the stone path to begin covering ground beneath Oakleaf hydrangeas. Not quickly, but I’m quite pleased that anything grows in this spot.
While the heavy clean up of early spring was completed weeks ago, there is never a lacking of chores to be accomplished. Leaves from maples and tulip poplars that border the garden are shredded and scattered, so everything, including weeds, grows vigorously. No fertilizer has been applied since the garden’s early days, though visitors repeatedly ask what’s the secret, so it seems clear that none is needed. I would be happy if weeds did not also grow with such vigor, but perhaps there is some good in having something to complain about, even when surrounded by such beauty.