One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Here’s a bit of heather – I think that’s what it is – which I spotted blooming in someone’s garden on a recent walk.

Yes, I’m happy to say that, as our daylight hours continue to increase and my foot has almost no memory of January’s pains, I’ve been getting back into my walking routines.   I’d like to think we are out of the woods regarding winter weather, especially since we had a relatively minor round of it here on the Cape, seeing dismal rain when so many saw feet of snow.   I’m not feeling in a position to gloat, however; anything’s still possible.

Meanwhile, spring is coming to my new office and I thought I’d show you a few of the plants which made the move there, since you may recognize them.   Last winter, I bought a hanging basket which combined the houseplants Wandering Jew (tradescantia zebria, which is a relative of both the three-petaled garden flower, spiderwort and the tiny wild blue dayflower) and Creeping Charlie  (aka, Swedish ivy).  Aren’t common names for plants a stitch sometimes?

Anyway, the tradescantia managed to edge out the Swedish ivy, and I’d been rooting what little of the latter I’d been able to save.   Here’s the little plantlet, which is doing well enough that I think I”ll eventually be potting cuttings from it for everyone else’s office windows, too.   In the background, you can see a whithered old Christmas cactus which I’m making an effort to save.  It actually looks a little better than a week ago, when I was prepared to give the poor thing last rites.   Fingers crossed.

Also moving to my sunny and window-ful office was that little Christmas cactus.  You’ll remember it, I think, for its having bloomed three different times during the past year.   Here it is on the right, and you can see its in bloom again, a condition its been enjoying since mid-January.   There are still fresh flower buds coming, so it seems the show will go on a bit longer.   Best dollar and fifty cents I ever spent.

Alongside that you’ll see an amaryllis and a spider plant.   The spider was divided from a hanging pot in the Nest just before I started the job and is now – a month later – starting to look like just one plant, and not half of something.   The amaryllis is that same bulb (“Cinderella” is the variety name) I grew last winter and then experimented with putting to sleep and waking up again last fall.

You might recall I had hoped (having little idea of the actual schedule required, nor how the mind of an amaryllis bulb actually works) that it might bloom in time for Christmas, or at least those January doldrums.  In fact, it only had just begun to show the very tips of its green strappy leaves when I started the new job.   This means everyone in the office (myself, included) have all watched with a little amazement as it comes back to life, the leaves and flower stalk pushing higher with each drink of water.  Just this week, the bud casing cracked open and revealed the pretty color scheme of the two flowers we should see in bloom shortly.   [EDIT:  on 3/11/10, 6 pm:  Those two flower buds spread apart to reveal a second pair of flower buds this afternoon.]

Despite still having some frosty evenings where overnight temperatures dip down into the 20s and 30s (Fahrenheit as always, peeps…), there’s plenty of good news.   Since last weekend, we’ve enjoyed daytime temperatures approaching or in the fifties, which feels sub-tropical after even a mild winter (although it’s funny to talk to my Granny in Florida on the phone and hear how cold she thinks 70 is.  BTW, those of you who remember when she had her accident in ’08 will be glad to hear that she’s recovered from that pretty well and is now approaching her 91st birthday.), and it was a treat to get outside this past weekend to give the garden a first cursory exploration in advance of starting to clean things up in weekends to come.

I’d noted about a week ago the return of the red-winged blackbirds and their distinctive song…and we’ve seen robins all winter.    But since this past weekend’s warmer days, our early mornings have been just exploding with bird song, a much nicer way to wake in the morning than a nasty alarm clock (although the close face of a disgruntled and impatient kitty whose bowl is less full than he’d like is also still an early morning start that amuses me, too!).

There’s some Carolina wrens who’ve been added their  voices to the early morning song-stylings of our big brood of sparrows and five pair of cardinals.   Lots of other birds have been appearing in the yard and are quickly changing from being seen in large groups to pairing off to set up housekeeping.   Or nest-keeping, as the case may be.

Do you remember the two pots of yellow violas I bought at the nursery when Heather visited last spring?   I’d kept them in pots on the deck through much of the summer and they’d offered their cheery little faces and sweet perfume almost continually throughout the season.

In the fall, one of those pots went into the ground during a garden bed refurb I did, but I’d never gotten around to doing something to protect the other from winter’s chill and I’d feared it was lost.

You might also recall that my laziness in dealing with the viola flowers I dead-headed (and casually tossed into the bottom of the morning glory planter) resulted in a few viola seedlings popping up there and blooming last fall.   I’m happy to say I discovered last weekend that both the pot of violas and the seedlings in the larger planter are doing well and – even though they were sporting a bit of frost yesterday morning – should be blooming erelong.

Encouraged by that, it was off into the yard to see what, if anything, I could find to cheer me in the gardens down below.   The driveway garden, as you can see, is a bit of a dump.  It was still growing steadily when December snows came to cover things up and as they receded at January’s end, it left a bunch of debris over the top of everything, mostly the remains of those wilding waves of allyssum, which hopefully dropped plenty of seed back into the garden for the season ahead.   I figure for now they are protection for more tender things starting to grow beneath.   And in the distance, you can see the green leaves of the shasta daisies.

Early tulips shoots and other bulbs are beginning to appear, pushing the dry leaves of last fall to the side and here you can see the imperial chrysanthemums (one of my favorite perennials for working hard in the garden so I don’t have to) are already displaying their pretty and crinkly early foliage.

Before long at all, I”ll have to start pinching out the center leaves to encourage them to branch nicely.   That worked out well last year, but since they bloom so late (Columbus Day), I’ll not stop the pinching until late July, since last year I stopped by the Fourth, according to conventional garden wisdom and they were still quite floppy.

At one end of the garden, the snow had receded to reveal that my blue primrose had bloomed sometime during January, beneath its white blanket.  I’m happy to say its preparing to have another go.

This expanse of green shoots and such is the bed of daylilies and iris I divided and replanted last winter.  I’m eager to see how this bed does…and also what  other things I can expect, as I sprinkled in an assortment of seeds once I’d finished replanting.  I’ll add some annual seeds, too, once our days and nights have warmed a smidge more.

These crocuses are fun to see pushing up and I got right down for a close-up, as they are only about an inch out of the ground just now.   They work fast, though, so soon I should have some pretty flowers to share with all of you.

Although the weekends ahead will find me starting to work more outdoors (weather allowing), there really wasn’t much to be done just yet and so I headed off for a terrific walk to the bay for sunset.   Which was just wonderful.

But that’s a blog post for another day and for now, I’ll leave you with a teaser.


Comments on: "Early March Garden Report: Reason to Hope" (2)

  1. Wow! You’re WAY ahead of us here in the Albany area! Gives us hope though!!!

    Go Spring!

  2. I sure like these pictures better than the previous set. Oh, they’re pretty too, but I’m done with winter now, thank you. And thank you for the peeks of green.

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