Early Spring

What happened to Winter?

Daffodils and hyacinths were blooming in January and February! What a contrast when compared to the last two years of snow and ice! Yes, winter is leaving us. The Root Children barely had time for a nap!

Yesterday I spent time outside in the gardens and around the waterfall pond. The frogs have resurfaced and are bigger now, but I don’t see any of the mosquito fish that were in the pond last year. With the 70+ temperatures, the frogs have been sunning themselves on the rocks in the pond. I notice the pond needs cleaning and the surrounding beds need weeding and mulching. I have not yet planted my snow peas or sweet peas! I worry that it may be too late. I’ve not yet started any pepper or tomato seeds – yikes! Where did the time go?

I love Queen Anne’s Lace and other plants that many people consider weeds. Dear Queen Anne diligently tossed her seeds last fall and now I have hundreds – maybe thousands – of tiny Queen Anne’s Lace plants………everywhere.

Tasty Chickweed and wild geranium are in every garden bed and are thriving.

Pretty little Dandelions are popping up and I welcome them to my garden too.

But enough is enough and too much is too much. Time for weeding!

The Redbuds are so pretty in pink! The sunny yellow Carolina Jessamine is blooming! I notice the pansies and the Johnny Jump Ups are turning their happy little faces to the sun.

Late last fall, I planted spinach, chard and Johnny Jump Ups (Viola cornuta, Viola tricolor) in the containers that are situated in the Secret Garden and Hummer Haven. I enjoy the combination of color and texture – rich shades of green, purple, chartreuse, lavender, and yellow. Plus, everything is edible!

Last Fall I also planted broccoli and collards as usual. Collards are a staple in the Southern garden! This winter I enjoyed steamed collards, collards in quiche, and collards with garlic sauteed in olive oil. My bunnies, Tinkerbell and Peter Pan, are true southern bunnies because collards are one of their favorite treats, but of course they don’t want them cooked at all! I also like to munch on veggies and herbs fresh picked from the garden. Tender fresh-from-the-garden broccoli tips are delicious and nutritious! This week the broccoli and collard plants have all started to “go to seed”. Energy is changing and moving from roots, to leaves, to flowers, to seeds! Spring is almost here!

Fortunately we set up the new bluebird houses in January. We now have a total of five bluebird houses and all have baffles that will hopefully keep the bluebirds safe from predators. Everyone – Bluebirds, Chickadees, Cardinals, Wrens, Goldfinch and others have all been scouting for nesting sites for weeks. The bluebird couples appear to have staked out their homes and their territory. We’ve observed the male sitting on top of the house while the female checks inside. The wrens have been working on their house for a few weeks to get it just right before moving in.

The enormous Monsieur Tillier tea rose has been the favorite nesting and roosting spot for our Cardinals. This is the same rose where my hummer Joy spent most of her time in the winter of 2009 and early 2010. Monsieur Tillier is beside the pergola where I would sit each morning at daybreak watching for Joy to come to the feeder. I was never certain where she would roost each night, but each morning she would magically appear at the feeder. After she had her “breakfast” she would perch in the Monsieur Tillier branches for a chit chat. We followed that routine from November through mid-March so we got to know each other very well. Needless to say, Monsieur Tillier has special meaning for me.

True tea shrub roses don’t require the same severe annual pruning as hybrid tea roses and generally respond best to light shearing. But at some point they do need to be pruned rather severely for rejuvenation. Monsieur Tillier has never been pruned and has grown to be at least 12ftx12ft over the years. The Cardinals and other birds like to nest and roost in the thorny branches because they provide good protection from snakes and other predators. I’ve been reluctant to prune Monsieur Tillier for the past two years thinking Joy may come back for a visit. But just a few weeks ago I decided to rejuvenate! So, now Monsieur Tillier is sporting a stylish new cut! I’m hoping the Cardinals can still find a good secure nesting spot and that Monsieur Tillier will be happily leafing out and blooming this Spring! I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out!

A few nights ago I dreamed of hummingbirds. In my dream, several new spring hummers were zooming around trying to find the sugar water feeders that are usually hung by my office door as well as other spots around the gardens. But the feeders weren’t there and the nectar wasn’t made! Oh dear! Then I woke up.

So, yesterday I made the sugar water, hung the feeders and now we are ready!

Good Wishes for Early Spring!