Monday, March 26, 2007

Crocus and Snow Drops

The crocuses are blooming and the snow drops are fading. Spring is coming alive in the plump pussy willow catkins and fattening leaves and flower buds on the shrubs. Daffodils, tulips, mini iris and hyacinths have pushed through the ground. And so it begins again.

My first job will be to clean up the mess winter left behind or that I didn't get to in the fall. Autumn Joy sedum, Autumn Sun rudbeckia and hybiscus spent flower stalks will be cut back as I rake leaves out of all the nooks and crannies in the garden.

I don't think I'll trim/prune the crepe myrtle this year. The shape & size seem fine. The crepe myrtle is the Rip Van Winkle in my garden and never really comes to life until later in the spring. So, I'll have time to change my mind and make a few adjustments if necessary.

The ornamental grasses will need to be cut back as I begin to see green shoots and before they blow leaves and seed heads all over the neighborhood. I don't believe they will need to be divided this year since we divided them (with a shovel and ax)the last two years.

I'll be spreading mulch as the clean-up progresses. I'll also need to divide daylilly Stella 'd Oro & Liriope. I need to dig up some snow drops for a neighbor.

And the list goes on and on. To me, it's better than Christmas.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Helleborus - Lenten Rose

Royal Heritage. Spring has had a bit of a set back with a late winter storm last Friday. So what is a gardener to do after direct-sow seeds are ordered, the plan for this year's garden is finalized, and the cuttings are growing?

It would be nice to be outside staring at the purple flowers of the hellebore but they are covered with snow. So, I'm doing the next best thing - staring at a picture of last year's bloom.

I bought this plant in 2002. It is one of the most carefree plants in my garden. I don't cut it back in fall. The leaves are green all winter - any green is a treat amid the brown of winter. In late February/early March as flowers start to appear, I do a snip here and a snip there of the old leaves. And reveal a lovely bunch of purple flowers and new leaves.

It is planted along a path in the garden that is shaded from the afternoon sun. It is in a well-drained area that was once mostly clay. The soil, over the years, has been ammended with mulch and not much else.

If the weather forcast holds true, I'll be staring at the real thing by the end of the week.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Philadelphia Flower Show

Legends of Ireland. Talk about chicken soup for the gardener's soul - What started out as a lovely (almost) spring day got even better when we entered the convention center.

It's hard to describe the glitz and glamour and over-the-top displays. I believe there's something there for everyone - from the well-done, well-documented display of herbs by WB Saul School of Agriculture to the EP Henry presentation of pavers and walls in backyard garden design.

Many of the displays captured the spirit of Ireland in the hardscape as well as the plants. Irish plants and poetry were interspersed with garden faeries and leprechans. The Celtic Garden Imports of Dexter, MI epitomized the simple beauty of Ireland and won Best In Show and the PNC People's Choice award. The pictures (here ) with roses and simple plants, embody the unplanned look of an old Irish garden.

The Penn State booth, manned by Master Gardeners, was informative and humorous with slide shows and posters and quite a few experts who are eager, friendly and willing to help with any gardening question.

Miniatures, garden rooms, flower arrangements, pictures made from dried flowers, water color paintings, amazing plants and shrubs entered for judging, and vendors all add to the experience that is the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Spring Garden Show

Lehigh Valley Flower and Garden Show opened March 2 to March 4. This small show had some nice displays by local nurseries and educational institutions.
The displays illustrated the theme "Nature Comes Alive". Spring flowering shrubs, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips lined newly built garden paths, ponds and fountains. Lehigh Valley Technical Institute had an wonderful display for their first effort at this show complete with a water feature. Native plants were the interesting focus at Edge of the Woods Nursery.

The Penn State Master Gardener display featured growing tomatoes. As usual, the sections were informative and creative. The area pictured here answered some common tomato problem questions. There also was a artistic display of home canned tomatoes. It made me hungry for a bite of a ripe, jucy, home-grown tomato and anxious to get out in the garden.
The only disappointment at this show each year is the lack of plants for sale. But, I managed to come away with two Golden Lemon Thyme plants for my garden path.