Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Buds, Blooms, and First Garden Prep of the Season

Spring has sprung!

Hyacinth of Purple

Hyacinth of Blue

I think the flowers below are Squill? I read they are spread by seeds. I don't remember if I planted these or not. 


Cherry Blossoms


Tuesday was such a perfect day for gardening, the first in months (warm, not windy, not too sunny with a hint of rain in the air) that I decided to seize the moment and weed my sad looking gardens!
Weeding in progress

Since I participate in the Tuesday Garden Party, I thought I'd share some of my gardening process here.  Pulling weeds is a highly complex and delicate task, because roots run deep and the goal is to grab as  much of the roots as possible, or else the weed will simply return, with deeper roots!


After pulling the weed I then shake off as much dirt as I can before disposing of it. 


One benefit of all this work is that by pulling up the weeds, it sort of aerates the soil. I also use my little hand rake to help pull up the weed and further aerate the soil and spread the soil about.


In the process, I found an earthworm, not only in this spot but at various spots along the weeding of the garden trail! Of course these squirmy little critters benefit the soil greatly, aerating and nourishing it.  


A few feet away there was another earthworm! And a few feet away, another, and another!  I'm happy about that!


While weeding I also address the dead stuff.  My husband planted several mums for me last autumn, then I wasn't feeling well at all for months, (I'm just now feeling great enough to garden!) so these very much needed to be inspected. The looked dead, but are they wick? Remember Dickon teaching Mary how to check for wick in The Secret Garden?  I'll show you how.

Is it wick?

I snipped a branch from the base of the plant but there was no green where I had cut.  If it were wick, there would  be some green in there. 

No, it's not wick.

Since it wasn't wick, it was dead. I pulled up the entire mum easily.  Look, the root ball never grew.  It should be at least as wide as the branches. It was also very light. A living plant is heavy in comparison.


From a distance I've speculated that this azalea wasn't wick either.  Last winter was a hard winter and many of our plants suffocated under all the snow without getting enough moisture.  We had to dig up and toss many  dead plants on the side of the house. We also realized some of the remaining plants were too squished together. We had planted them too closely about five years ago. In this spot in the opposite front corner of the house had been an antique rose bush that was growing too large for the space, so my husband replanted that in the back yard in a merry large spot! I suggested moving this small azalea into this spot to replace the rose.  However upon closer inspection I saw green in the brown leaves! I had thought azaleas are evergreens, but I've read that some are deciduous.  Azaleas are new to me because they don't grow in San Antonio, Texas, where the soil is alkaline. We'll see how things go for this azalea. There is another one on the side of the house that is all brown. It was getting dark and rainy by the time I got over there and it was too difficult to tug out of the garden, so we'll see what happens with that one too!    

Hope for this azalea?

The next messy weedy spot to tackle was one we inherited around this maple tree when we bought the house 6 years ago. I forgot to take the "before" photo but at this point I had already weeded out all the grass where it is now bare. Now for the tough part...somewhere in all that remaining grass are daylillies!  Even when we bought the house the daylillies were full of grass. This is a difficult spot to weed because the soil is heavy clay.  By the time it got dark I had isolated the 4 spots of daylillies, which appear to have been planted from 6 gallon containers by the developer (most trees in the neighborhoods have these) and they've never spread. Since I was running out of daylight and rain was coming, I will return to this project. My plan is to entirely uproot the lillies and divide them (and hopefully pull out more grass) because they don't bloom as well as they should in the summer. I also would like to amend this soil.   

Daylillies are somewhere in there.

I also planted 3 miniature roses that I bought in February. I had the intent to enjoy them on my kitchen counter until spring came but they were not at all happy.  They simply dried up. My husband put them in the garage to sit near the window in a large pot, with the roots protected by dirt.  Hopefully they are still alive and will come back. I had lots of miniature roses in my garden right outside the back door at  my San Antonio house that grew nicely. I hope these do too.  They were creamy roses with a touch of pink. We'll see! My  Virginia garden is very much an experiment, because we are much further north with vastly different seasonal conditions than we had in San Antonio. Also I'm not too keen on the local planting decisions because all the summer stuff around here dies.  I'm hoping to have blooms from spring, through the summer and into the fall. Now that my homeschooling days are behind me, I have a bit more time to invest in research and gardening, so..we'll see!

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