Monthly Archives: February 2011

I’m already behind

I looked at the calendar and realized…Spring is only 25 days away!

 That means given the hours alloted  in a day (which  you can’t change trust me.. I have tried both to will them away and alternately, to frantically add them and neither works) X the number of them left before March 20th, I am already behind.

Usually by now I have lots of things pruned outside and the wood ready to be made into stakes, or mulched into chips, but this year the snow cover is keeping me from getting out there to do anything.

Usually by now I have a plan of attack for re-working gardens that need refreshing , or new plantings, but I am so focused on the return of the bunnies that I am in a state of garden inertia , unable to plan,plot or otherwise.

Usually by now I am at the ready, tools cleaned and sharpened , pots  for seeding and container plants scrubbed and sterilized, and new gloves purchased and waiting on my bench, but I had the real honest to goodness flu that had me down for the count for over two weeks already and I haven’t had the energy.(No, I did not get my flu shot and yes I will get it next year)

Usually by now I feel confident that my seed and plant orders are finalized, and well thought out perennial choices and new roses will arrive soon ,their locations pre-determined the beds prepared for their happy arrival. but instead I look at new catalogues as they show up in the mail with a knot in my stomach and  a feeling that I may have ordered about 200 things I did not need and have no place for and the one problem spot I  meant to remedy will remain empty  because nothing  out of the  perfectly photographed yet useless  plant stash those clever catalogue writers made me buy is appropriate for it.

Usually by now, I have at least planned how and when I will start seeds of sweet peas, followed by a myriad of other plants I want yet can’t readily get at the local nurseries, but knowing how they all became instant rabbit food of the most delicious kind last year I haven’t the heart to try again just yet.

So, that settles it , I am behind. Behind on the chores, behind on the plans, behind actually on the laundry and housework as well, just to add that extra special little bonus pile of work on top in case I felt like there was some way I could catch up.

But I am going to put on my bestest “little engine that could” face and at least make a to-do list and start hacking away at it. I cut some forsythia branches today to force inside, that was a good first step. I am going to go through my seed packets tomorrow, that will be a good second step. Then maybe I will pull all the plant invoices I printed from my winter ordering to see what will be arriving soon and start to assign plant to place.

Excuses for procrastination will not be tolerated; I will start to trudge through the huge disorganized pile of  notes I made  for a presentation I am working on, and I will make a list of the photographs I need to illustrate all of my innovative and genius points. I will finish finish (or at least start) the laundry.

ith I really am going to do it all, promise, right after I check out the Rhode Island Flower Show this week in Providence, then a quick stop at Tower Hill this weekend to help at the desk while they are so busy with  all the people coming to check out the new Limonia, then I just have a few days volunteering before and  at the Boston Flower Show  (which is spectacular and gobs of fun to work on and you better make sure you come check it out)and then  I will get right back to it all. Really, I  promise.

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Lemon tree

So…. you might remember that I mave have vented (unusual for me I know) about the lemon tree Bill ordered me for Christmas. In his usual last minute haste, Bill tok my list of suggestions and hit the computer running .He just ordered it all, no thought to ,well, really anything, and sat back and waited for it to arrive. As far as the lemon tree goes he did not even keep track of where he ordered it from, and erased any confirmation emails, lest he ruin my “surprise”.

Well, whovever shipped it apparantly failed middle school geography or something,and is entirely unaware that here in the North Eastern part of the country we have a thing called winter. We came home late one night to find a crumpled up box sitting out on the steps in o degree weather with an even more  below zero wind chill. Call me crazy, but maybe the words “live plant” on the box xould have alerted the UPS man to come back when we were home, or maybe even better the nursey could have sent us an email like so many of the good ones do, promising to ship when the shipping weather is safe.

Inside we found the tree, that’s it. No packing material, no shredded newspaper, plastic peanuts, or bubble wrap. No reciept either, or invoice, or growing instuctions.Many of the branches were just snapped off , from whatever sort of mayhem happened during shipping, and most of the leaves were already curling and blackening from being frozen. The leaves that were still attached, and not yet curled, promptly did so and fell off immediatly after. Merry  #$%&*^%  christmas Cheryl  ;)

So, I had a tantrum to Bill and demanded he get a refund and or replacement,I  even snapped photos for him to use in his argument with the nursey,  only to find out he had no way to  return it. Just in case you think I am coming down hard on my man, I will tell you this is not an isolated incident . I will  just say “the Tom-Tom birthday fiasco’, and leave it at that.

Usually in these cases he takes the offending gift and stores it in his car for a while, and then when he tires of it I think he lets it out the window on the highway while he is traveling to work. I jest not, he has NEVER returned anything. In preparation for the long car ride to lemon tree heaven, he placed the tree in our unheated garage where it sat for three weeks throughout the christmas holiday.

Sometime after New Year’s Day , I went out to the garage, and in a random act of misplaced concern kindness carried the tree into the kitchen. It sat all dead-like right next to my desk for a while, mostly just to make Bill mad.

At this point the tree had zero leaves, just a sad stick in a too small plastic pot of some kind of planting m edium that despite my best efforts refused to hold any water whatsoever. After mopping the water up for the kagillionth , I headed to home depot, and bought some potting soil and a new pot. Why I even though for one minute the tree would rebound is beyond me. Call it intuition, call it hope, call it  a desperate attempt to salvage the $100, but guess what?

It still has a long road to recovery, I will have to prune it , and probably establish a new leader, but if it can just hang on until spring when it will get plenty of  sun and attention outside I have high hopes for it.   As a gardener failure is just part of the learning process and I certainly have killed and or maimed my share of plants….but maybe, just maybe, I saved this one :)

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For Winter Interest -Look up!

Winter Interets is supposed to be, especially  here in New England, the myriad of  objects d’art and well thought out plant choices we use in the garden to make our winter garden just as stunning to look at as the garden in summer.  But THIS winter, honestly… why did we bother?  ! WHO COULD POSSIBLY SEE IT??  You know I am a snow lover, but with the constant storms and low temps the snow pack has risen to unbelievable heights and the garden is all but lost under it.

I went out to take some pictures this morning because new snow had fallen during the night and before the sun comes out and melts it off the branches the world to me looks so calm,and so beautiful. The blanket of snow conjures up images of snow days off from school, sledding and hot cocoa, yet lest you think I have fallen off my rocker and cracked my head, I know when I fully wake up have coffe and the morning begins it will conjure up images of shoveling, crappy driving conditions and more roof raking.

As I was taking the photos it occured to me that what was in the lens was the tops of things. After 50 or more inches of unmelted snow cover in the past few weeks, here in my garden you can enjoy the lovely tips of the 2   chamaecyparis obtusa ‘nana lutea’ s  I planted so I could see their stunning yellow and green needles against the snow, and you can’t even see their cousin , the glowing golden chamaecyparis psifera’gold mop’ at all.

 Buried also are the hollies and winterberries whose bright berries should pop out against the white blanket that surrounds them, and also provide me with some bird watching too. Really you can’t see even one obelisk,  colored twig, or interesting branch structure, unless it was already more than 5 feet off the ground. So now I wonder,  how much more will I miss?  The stupid forsythia, plum  and other branches I could bring in to force into bloom are in the way back of the yard and I would need snowshoes to go cut any. I haven’t even seen the rock  garden since December. The early blooming clematis vines (c.alpina and c. macropetala) may still be  buried under when their time comes to bloom. The last time we had this much snow , we had to shovel it out of the pool area (where the fence insulates it) In MAY!

Although she is not technically “winter interest” , Pumpkin is providing us with quite  a bit of frolicking fun. The dogs , because of their little legs,  have many paths (gruelingly shoveled out day after day by Erin and I- our side yard looks like a habitrail) but she is adventurous and loves to walk up and over the crusted snow pack. The snow level is even with the new fence, so she could  walk right on outa here, but inevitably her rear end will sink down into the snow as she makes her way and she is scared into turning back. She is also drawn to those irresistable  bobbing tips of all my shrubs poking out of the snow cover.  See her there…behind her is the wire that tops the fence and in front is the top of  hydrangea paniculata ‘limelight’ ( a very large shrub by the way) and a bit of the weeping birch.

So, anyway,….. I did what any desperate person does, and took pictures of the top of things. The crabapples (malus ‘robinson”)  add some nice color,  what you can see of the weeping birch looks cool as well as the Harry lauders walking stick in all it’s contorted glory. The tops of a trellis covered in snow  , the tree tops that look like shrubbery, the few pieces of garden art that are placed up high, are all the winter interest we can see. …….but they are no less beautiful for their scarcity….now where’s that coffee…time for my reality check

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let it snow, let it snow , let it snow

Here’s to New England weather and all it’s unpredictable  extra snowy bone chillingly fr-fr-frigid glory.

You can puch me if you wanna, but snow is my bestest friend these last few weeks.   SNOW+ Cheryl =BFF     

 Why ? you ask….why when you have spent morning commutes sitting on the highway for hours watching idiot drivers bend fenders and slip slide all over causing numerous traffic delays?

  Why  …when your days are spent walking around aimlessly with heavy shovelfulls of wet snow trying to find a new GD place to stack it up.

 Why…. when the children never ever go to school where they rightfully belong bugging the bejeezus out of paid professionals instead of whinning to you about how bored they are.

 Why…when just today you drove through a pothole the size of Manhattan that jarred your jaw in a way that is still making you wince.

 Why?…Why? Why? am I happy about the snow?.

Because it is winter , and winter is cold . So very cold lately that not one inch of the 50 or so we have recently aquired has even thought of melting…and therein lies my the root of my happiness. My garden is snuggled under the loveliest of winter blankets with no threat of someone stealing the covers so to speak and leaving it exposed to horrible wind chills and the notorious freeze thaw cycles that heave so many of my babies out of the ground and just plain kill others.

In Alaska they call a winter with no ( or very little)  snow a blue screamer. We have had them here ,although the only screamer was me when I saw the damage that January did to May.  The last one was 9  or so years ago and going out in the gardens that spring I  spent  day upon day slowly  realizing how many plants were just  not coming back. All of my fruit trees had a huge percentage of dead branches that needed  to be pruned out, some were not even worth trying to save. I lost anything marginally hardy, which meant that almost every plant in the rock garden was gone as most of them were borderline zone 5 anyway. I can look back at photos taken before that winter nd actually feel a little weepy about the mass die-off.  No part of the garden was left unscathed and  I even lost extremely hardy perennials and 2 ‘New dawn” climbing roses that are super-de-duper hardy.

That terrible no good very bad January ,temperatures were frigid, often below 0, often with numbing winds accompanying them, and there was no snow.

 Snow to a gardener  is  mostly just a great insulator(to  heck with all the slippery qualities you skiers apprecaite)  and here in Jefferson it means that we can plant like we live in zone 5, even though I will insist we are and will always be zone 4. The snow makes all the difference, take it away and we are screamin’blue.

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