Marty's Gardening Journal, April 11th, 2011

In the past two months I visited the Somerset Flower show in Edison, the Philadelphia Flower show and, last but not least, Spring fest in Sussex. It provided me with ideas for gardens, color and scents so missed during winter and a chance to buy gardening stuff I just couldn’t do without.

 As the temperatures inched up and the wind dropped, I went outside and cleaned up. Ornamental grasses were cut back, windblown leaves picked up, skeletal remains from perennials removed. All of it went into a pile for composting. Over time it will turn into “gardener’s gold” and it will be used to enrich the garden. Never one to garden with gloves on, my hands show little cuts and the fingernails are not cleaning up as well as they should.

Early spring 2011 (2)Every day more flowers appear. Right now the early daffodils are at their brightest and the hyacinths at their most fragrant. The purple plum cherry tree (Prunus cerasifera) reveals its pink blossoms while the cherry tree (Prunus serrulata) is not far behind with its blooms.

I can see the buds of my Miss Kim lilac growing by the day. Soon their lavender-pink flowers will open and the air will carry its heady scent. Hosta “noses” are poking up out of the soil. A big hosta plant named ‘Sum and Substance’ has finally been dug up. In a spot too sunny for its taste, it would end up with burns on its (huge) leaves every year. Too big to move in one swell swoop, I cut it up in three pieces. One piece went to a neighbor who coveted a piece for years; the other two were relocated to a spot towards the back where it will receive less sun. It will take a few years before it grows back to its former glory, but we will have three plants in the end. Then a small butterfly bush was relocated to the hosta’s spot. Some groundcover (berginia) has been dug up. It never did well in this low spot in the garden, always getting caught in a late freeze which killed the flower buds. Just about once in every three or four years it would bloom, but otherwise it was pretty unremarkable. Instead, I planted some tubers bought at the Philly flower show. If only I could remember what they were! I may have written it down somewhere; if not, I will be hitting my reference books once the plant flowers.

Six cubic yards of mulch were purchased just in time to take advantage of a sale (almost one cubic yard for free!). Putting it away has been slow going but the pile is getting smaller and with luck I will make just an itty bit of lawn disappear again. I just have to find the right moment (when The Spouse is sleeping).

greenhouse outside A small (and portable) greenhouse was bought, put together and put in front of one of the garage doors. While keeping my fingers crossed, I moved all of the coleus cuttings (now plants) outdoor to this greenhouse, as well as some sweet potato vines grown from cuttings and fuschias. During the day I would open the plastic, at night everything would be zipped up tight again. The coleus and fuschias responded well; the potato vines rebelled and were brought indoors again. While I have no plans to put the plants yet in the garden, they will be fully hardened off and ready to shine weeks from now as the threat of frost disappears.

The gazebo has been cleaned out and it is ready again for an early morning breakfast, break time, any time or a quiet conversation in the evening. I revel in the sounds and scents of nature; I mowed the lawn for the first time; I am getting my exercise in while gardening! Another winter came and went. Now go out and experience the joy of spring for yourself.