Delectable Spring

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

The weather has been perfect lately if you are a duck or a goose (or me!): rainy, cool, soft. Perfect for transplanting roses which are seedlings no longer, for digging new holes for fruit trees, and for digging herbs to propagate. Every night or early morning I wake to the sound of rain, a blessing for last year was a tough hot dry one and I got nothing woody dug. The roses are a tangle but they will be wonderful around the orchard garden. The violets and primroses are starting off—today there are 3 colors of violets, 5 of Drumstick primroses, and the ‘Quaker’s Bonnet’ double primrose is starting to open, looking very much like an Easter bonnet for some parade. The Eremurus are sprouting like sheaves of wheat and the E. robustus looks like the top of an Ionian capital—bigger around at the base than my arm. Robust, indeed.

The seed trays are full of wonder as well. I have indulged in Ipomoeas this year: Scarlet Star Glory (I. coccinea), ochracea (yellow flowers), luteola (orange), purpurea ‘Small Blue’(like miniature Heavenly Blue)& Cypress vine (I. quamoclit) plus the more common forms. The shoots are similar, and the cotyledons open in a similar fashion, but then the variations begin— twirly, downy purpurea with pleated heart shaped leaves, ruddy petite star glory, thin spidery cypress vine and luteola with hearts tapering to an ‘early American crafts heart’ point. And there’s Canary bird vine (Tropaeolum peregrinum), which has cleft leaves to mirror its future flowers, and the feathery Lathyrus sativus azurea which will have the most amazing electric turquoise flowers. Purple podded peas with their purple flowers I grow for a few tidbits in the vegi garden but mostly as ornament, along with the runner beans for the birds. Last year I grew scarlet runner beans in the forsythia for a nice red-flowering ‘bean bush’ and this year I am imagining festooning my transplanted roses with vines of their own. The hummingbirds & hb moths will love me!

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

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