Gardening Journal, February 20th, 2012

By now the early snowbells have been out and about for over a week. On sunny days they open up; on cloudy days they keep their flower closed, but they are there, for all to see. The very first Hellebores flowers have been out for weeks now, but every day more buds open and you spot them from yards away. A walk through the garden showed my Queen Elizabeth rose sprouting leaves. But wait, I didn’t cut the canes down yet and so the Queen was sprouting leaves five feet up in the air. A quick pruning of the canes brought this shrub rose down to one foot in height and now it can do all the sprouting it wants.

About a month ago I did a bit of pruning on my Prunus serrulata or Japanese Cherry as there were crossing and rubbing branches. Rather than discarding the cut branches I put them in a large vase in “the library”. Every week I changed the water and waited. Oh, how I waited. I wasn’t quite sure if anything would happen at all, but then, one sunny afternoon the tiniest bit of pink could be seen at a bud. Within days most buds started showing pink while here and there a blossom started to unfold. Now, with another month of winter still on the calendar my room is transformed into a spring wonderland.

cherry blossom

One side of the room is dominated by the cherry blossoms, while the other side showcases most of my blooming orchids. On dreary days I make myself comfortable on the reclining chair; book in hand, cup of tea on the armrest, blanket nearby just in case I get cold, surveying blooms on either side while my brother-in-law’s paintings provide even more flowery cheer. 

orchids at home February 2012

My pathetic little apple tree which, without spraying multiple times a year never could hold onto to its apples in time for picking them, was taken down. But keeping in mind my cherry blossoms, I saved some branches for forcing as well. Then, Saturday was spent with girlfriends going to an orchid show. I came home with two new orchids as well as a begonia and an armful of primroses. The Spouse loved the hot orange blooms on one orchid and was surprised I didn’t buy any more primroses considering their price. Now a big vase dominates the dining room table and together with flowering primroses I await a glorious display of apple blossoms.

Days later another flower show beckoned; the NJ Flower show in Edison. Visiting this show with another friend we both brought our pruning shears back to the vendor where we purchased them last year for a thorough cleaning and sharpening. Darn, the vendor wasn't at this flower show, we will have to wait to the Philadelphia flower show next month! These ratcheting pruners have made our lives so much easier and I carry mine with me throughout the garden all the time. No longer do I struggle with larger branches, the mechanism does the hard work for me and I make clean cuts. The larger of the two shears can handle up to 1½ inch diameter branches and never have my willows been cut faster. Sure, there are still probably up to a hundred branches or more on each willow to be cut, but the whole process is a snap with these shears. It is always nice when you find a tool that makes gardening, which by definition can be hard work, a bit easier. Now if only digging holes by hand could be make easier! 

It remains to be seen if the remainder of February and those three weeks of March are as calm and relatively balmy as all those weeks which preceded them before I can officially greet spring, but I remain hopeful. I hope you are too!