Marty’s Gardening Journal, June 23rd, 2009

poker primrose June '09_1In Holland, skies are quite often overcast as can be seen in many paintings made by Dutch artists. While clouds make for interesting or even beautiful paintings, a bright blue sky looks and usually feels a lot more appealing. Coming to America in the fall of 1981, I saw bright blue skies day after day. Even in the middle of that first winter there would hardly ever be a cloud in the skies. Many times it would fool me into believing it was a lot warmer outdoors. Shivering in my winter coat, good for milder Dutch winters, I would walk around the corner from the apartment, only to be slapped in the face by the wind coming off the river, making me gasp for air. Never had I felt such cold weather. The following summer I experienced the hottest weather in my life, never mind that it was a reasonably mild summer for our area. But time passes, and like everything else one gets used to the weather; cold in winter, hot in summer, with hopefully something not too cold or too hot in between.

Because of the wet and cool days, annuals, put in the ground weeks ago, have barely budged. They need warm weather to grow and bloom and one can only ho pe the sun promised in the forecast will finally come out and warm things up. On the other hand, all plants transplanted in the garden did not need additional watering to get off to a good start. Potted plants in both the front and back gardens have also been doing well without having to make the rounds with the watering can. Lilies, a bit delayed in blooming because of the lower temperatures, will be at their best just in time for the annual garden party. With luck, there still will be lots of other plants in bloom a few weeks later when members from our gardening club will visit as well.

Some plants, more known for spring blooming, are still doing well in the garden. The primroses, tucked away in shady spots, have bloomed and bloomed again. I have always liked their bright flowers and often wished I had a few of the poker primroses to call my own. It’s not that stores don’t sell them, or catalogs don’t carry them, but I have been too cheap to shell out big bucks for them. Lo and behold, the big box store in town carried them and they only caught my eye when they were on the sales rack. They were a bit past their prime; with a few wilting leaves from lack of watering and a few faded flowers. But, at two dollars a pot, the price was more than right and I picked up three pots with two or three plants each. A few columbine plants were evicted to make room for the poker primroses and Mother Nature did the rest. Rain and good soil made the plants stand tall and soon new pokers appeared and started blooming. Now, weeks later, a little corner of the garden lights up with bright blooms which make me smile every time I pass them by. Gardening on the cheap, whether growing plants from seed or picking up plants on sale, it can be done and it gives such satisfaction. It only leaves me with one dilemma; what to do with the money I saved…. Oh wait; didn’t I need some rain barrels?

Lilies in full bloom_1Astilbe and Asiatic lilies 'lollypop'_1