Another garden post! The truth is I can’t think of anything to say about writing that I haven’t said already. So no rule-quibbling, nothing about the WIP, and no buy-my-books message (although you can find out about those via the menu at the top or in the sidebar).
Hopefully I’ll have something worthwhile to say about writing by next week. Suggestions are welcome–from writers, readers, or gardeners!
Plants are green. Everyone knows that. But green isn’t a single colour; there are a million shades of green. Throw in texture and an all-green planting is anything but monotone.
But many plants have leaves in colours besides or other than green. Combinations of white and green, for example. Or colours such as orange, red, purple, or even blue. Blue leaves–imagine that!
Here are some plants from my garden with colour variations.
The last one is my favourite. Cerinthe “Pride of Gibraltar” starts out with leaves of pale green, but as the flower buds develop, the leaves close to them turn a bronzy purple, and then a pure blue. Some are almost navy blue. The flowers are those little purple tubes sticking out at the ends.
My garden photos are often closeups of individual plants or groups of plants. So I thought it was time to post some wider views, in the form of a tour. The garden is at its best right now (early May), when it’s still lush and green.
Finish winter pruning and haul brush pile to curb for collection
Clean up beds, cut down dead stalks, etc.
Uproot or cut suckers of lilac, snowberry, and Oregon grape from spots where they’re not wanted
Dig up or at least cut down plants of invasive Italian arum (aka Arum italicum or lords-and-ladies)
Pull up maple and laburnum seedlings, shotweed, and other weeds
Lay out soaker hoses. (They won’t be needed until June, but it’s much easier to wrestle them into place when plants are small)
Edge the beds that adjoin lawns
Acquire materials for mulching mix: bagged manure, lime, slow-release fertilizer, kelp meal, bone meal, alfalfa pellets
Mix above materials with compost to make Alfa-Omega* mix for mulching, and distribute among the beds
Repot potted delphiniums and hostas to larger pots; ditto the rose “Fragrant Cloud,” which was grown from a cutting and therefore is on its own rather feeble roots, rather than grafted onto a vigorous rootstock
Until last week, the winter of 2020-2021 was a mild one here on the west coast of Canada. That’s the way it should be, right? A couple of weeks ago, I was anticipating spring.
But this is a La Niña winter. You know La Niña–she’s El Niño’s evil twin sister. Her style is to hold back until spring is just around the corner, and then to descend on the unsuspecting saps who’ve been busy sending photos of stuff blooming in their gardens to folks in places that always get real winters.
Last week, temperatures as low as -9C (16F) were forecast. I raced around the garden, lugging pots into the basement and moving other pots into what I hoped would be sufficiently sheltered spots to withstand the predicted northeast winds that were supposed to produce a wind chill well into the minus degrees. Then I covered up plants that couldn’t be moved with odds and ends of pruned twigs and things like old bath mats and car seat covers that I keep in the shed for these weather eventualities.
I kept hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as predicted, and it wasn’t, but a low of -4.5C (24F) is pretty cold, especially with a wind gusting to 70 km/hr (35 mph). Having done what I could for plants, I worried about how birds were faring. I made sure the two hummingbird feeders went out first thing in the morning. On Friday, February 12th there were three Anna’s hummingbirds tanking up at the same time at one feeder, a sight I haven’t seen before, since each feeder is usually hogged by one aggressive dude who chases any others away.
On Friday night, snow began and fell steadily until after noon on Saturday. Total was 30 cm (1 foot). Fortunately, the wind diminished and the temperature rose to an almost tolerable -1C (30F). Rain is predicted for next week, and a return to normal temperatures, meaning lows of 2C (36F) and highs of 8C (46F).
Returning to plants, I would have been happier if this wintry blast had turned up in December or January, before plants were starting to sprout and even bloom. Now the hellebores, which were in bloom, have gone limp. I know they’ll rebound once it warms up, but it’s still depressing to see them lying on the ground. Buds of Clematis armandii, the evergreen clematis that’s the first to bloom, may have been blasted to the point of no bloom at all by that cold northeast wind. Some of those potted plants may have suffered as well.
While distressing, this sort of snow and cold event is by no means unheard of here. We get one every couple of years. I just wish La Niña had better timing.
Someone I worked with used to declare, as we all returned to the office after the Christmas break, “Okay, now it’s spring!” The rest of us would beg to differ, because rain, cold, and even snow are possible until March or even April.
But my coworker had a point. If you know where to look, even early in January, you can see plants budding or even blooming.
Best of all, as far as I’m concerned, the Chinese witch hazel, which hardly ever blooms, has managed a respectable show, due to extra watering last summer. OK, this is a pretty substandard photo, but if you look carefully, you can see the threadlike yellow flowers in the upper third of the picture. If you look even more carefully, you might spot a dark-eyed junco (bird) perched on a branch. These juncos are frequent visitors to the bird feeder all winter.
All photos taken January 9, 2021, except the last one, which is from January 2015