Marty’s gardening journal, February 19th, 2008


2-2008 PrimrosesWalking around the garden, I see the first daffodils and crocuses starting to peek through wet soil. Walking around the Rutgers’ botanical garden last week, I came across the first clump of snow bells in full bloom. The graceful nodding flowers were a sight for sore eyes.

My Fridays have been busy lately. A course at Rutgers in the identification of trees and shrubs has kept me occupied. After years of looking at evergreens I can now tell a Picea (spruce) from a Pinus (pine) and a Tsuga (hemlock) from a Pseudotsuga mensiezii (Douglas fir) as well as many others. Identifying deciduous trees, those that shed their leaves in fall, is a bit trickier, but looking at shape, bark, branches and coloration does help and I passed my mid term exam in the park with flying colors. Everywhere I go I see species I can identify and I happily share my knowledge with The Spouse, who can now identify a pin oak (if not much else).

While dreary, grey days abound, I surround myself with inexpensive plants from neighborhood stores. Primroses, in their splendor, are almost as cheap as a dime a dozen, and they come in a wide variety of colors and variations. While visiting a flower show last week, I bought a few of the fancier types and together with the “plain old” primrose I made up a basket with several of them. Grey days be damned, but looking at my flowers, I can imagine spring is not that far off any more!

The frogs in the terrarium in the basement are growing nicely. They now eat small crickets, bought one box at the time. At times, they devour four, five small crickets in a row, followed by a growth spurt. Come spring, these little amphibian pets, should be able to make the transition to the pond nicely.

I am also busy making plans for a trip to Holland. Since this will be a spring time trip, I plan on visiting the nearly endless fields of flowers around Haarlem and Lisse, as well as a trip to the Keukenhof, one of the country’s premier spring gardens. The Spouse will be reluctantly in tow during these trips, but lunch or dinner at one of the many nice restaurants with good Dutch beer on tap, always puts him back on track.

And so winter passes slowly. Early March I am going to the Philadelphia flower show, where I can satisfy a hunger for colorful gardens. Soon, temperatures will start to rise and spring will arrive. I have almost made it through another winter!