With a few cold days in the forecast, it’s comforting to know that the worst is past, at least it should be, and this winter there’s not been much to complain about. Still, have I whined? Of course, yes. Every day, I count the days (hours and minutes) until March. If it turns cold then, I’ll be howling.
I’m anxious, as always, to get to it. I’ve intentionally left the withered growth from most of last year’s perennials and Japanese Forest grasses (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, below) so I have half a clue where things are. The plan is, this year (for once) I won’t dig into something that’s been there for years, or plant immediately beside it so that once everything comes up I’ll have to move one or the other. Certainly, I’ll be planting sooner than established perennials begin growing, and by delaying the cleanup I’ll know where to plant, but there’s going to be a lot to do in a hurry in March.
I don’t know exactly why, but I seem more impatient than in years past, so I’ve made big plans for planting this spring (late winter). There are more than the typical orders by mail, and there are several just-gotta-haves that I know will be in the garden center by mid March.
Already, I’ve set out a small boulder wall by the greenhouse to jam a collection of sempervivums (still to be purchased) into the crevices. Late last year I constructed another part of this wall on the shaded side of the greenhouse. Crevices there are filled with sedums and small Rock Cap ferns (Polypodium virginianum, below). I’ve also divided a few sections of Japanese Forest grass to cascade over the low stone wall with a few hellebore seedlings stuffed into larger gaps.
I say the worst is past, though the second half of February is often as chilly, snowy, and icy as earlier parts of the winter. I’m betting it won’t be this year, and in any case, this milder than usual winter so far has brought many more flowers than are typical.
I try not to gloat. A friend told me the other day that buds on her hellebores (planted in autumn) were getting fat. I couldn’t resist. I informed her that there are hundreds of hellebore flowers in the garden today, and many have been blooming for a few weeks. There are lots of snowdrops, and even a few that are fading after weeks in bloom. And today, I can finally declare that ‘Arnold Promise’, the latest of the witch hazels in this garden, is now flowering. I tried not to present this to her as “Ha Ha, my garden is better than your’s”, but as encouragement for what the future will bring. I’m not certain it came off as kindly as intended.
At least for a day, I’m the good guy again. For whatever reason, I took the pruners to the Japanese maple that arches over a substantial portion of the driveway. I despise maples that are pruned to look like umbrellas (or for that matter, any plant that is sculpted into an unnatural form), so I resisted doing anything for too long until the driveway became impassable to any besides our two small cars. But, after second and third guessing, I decided that there’s enough growth on the eight foot tall weeping maple that I could chop off a few of the lower branches so that at least my tiny car could fit underneath. I think it looks good. The natural shape remains, and mostly it’s the effort that counts, though now my wife complains that the encroaching holly on the other side of the drive must go.