Monday, May 29, 2006

Six months

Somehow I believed that while my garden was dormant, this blog would spring to life. Apparently not.

Watching the garden come back this spring was a joy. I lost only a couple of plants to the winter. My toad lily was probably already doomed by being in poorly drained soil. I lost a big chunk of one of my newer bugleweed (ajuga reptans) plants -- not sure why, but it looked dried out. And there was a mum which had the misfortune of having a squirrel dig into its roots multiple times during the late fall. Not sure what that was about.

Of the potted plants that I threw into a holding bed in late fall, nearly all are thriving. The most vunerable of these -- painted ferns that I rescued from the yard waste site -- took their sweet time, but the third clump has finally started to unfurl new fronds.

The front boulevard garden has gone through several waves of flowers. First it was the daffodills. Then the poppies. Then the allium. Now the peonies. And the stella d'oro daylilies are just starting to flower along with my weedy variety of daisies.

No other flower generates comments like my poppies. The first blossom opened on May 14, and they continued to bloom through May 26. At the peak, I had 35 open blossoms. It seemed that every day I was outside, someone would stop to tell me how nice they looked, or ask what kind of flower they were, or ask if they could take some seed once the seedheads started to dry. I got these poppies from a neighbor a few years ago. They bloom earlier and more profusely in my boulevard garden than they do in her garden at the front of her house.

And that brings me to another favorite part of spring gardening: having an abundance of perennials to share with friends and neighbors. I've given away cranesbill, Siberian iris, strawberries, rhubarb, lamium, bee balm, yellow loosestrife, false sunflower (heliopsis helianthoides) and a few others. On the receiving end, I've gotten perennial bachelor buttons, white loosestrife, and a sickly, sun-starved azalea.

Spring projects: Move the compost bin from it's temporary site to a more permanent site along the fence. Undo last year's tomato bed and rebuild it lower, more in the center of the yard. Get rid of grass. Find homes for all the plants I bought while I had spring fever.

Summer projects: Build a stone wall to divide the patio/grass area from the vegetable garden area. Build a drain/rain garden for the northeast downspout. Build a path along the east side of the house.

And I'm doing a sun survey.

What's a sun survey? I'm using my digital camera to take multiple photos during the day mid May, mid June, and mid July to get a sense of where sun and shade fall across my whole yard. I want to put some shrubs in on the east side of the house -- where I get morning shade from the boulevard trees and afternoon shade from the house. But there are spots that get plenty of sun -- I just need to know how big those spots are. And there are spots that are somewhat sunny in April that are in deep shade most of the summer. My beds are set up accordingly, but I want to know more about the sun/shade mix in the marginal areas.

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