Signs of Spring

– Posted in: Garden chores, What's up/blooming

The Gardener in her Garden

Mother and daughter gardening - photo by Cadie
Here I am this past Sunday transplanting Lemon Lilies (Hemerocallis flava) from the back of the Birthday Garden to the front of it. They are a very old-fashioned daylily, but not as vigorous as the Tawny Daylily (H. fulva). Although they bloom early for a daylily, they are shorter than the surrounding plants, and were just about invisible when blooming. After blooming they were in the shadow of the other plants, and haven’t bulked up as I would have liked. (My assistant kept busy picking out stones and provided a running commentary on everything we did. Then she got to water them.)

My original plan had been to dig out all the dock (Rumex obtusifolius) from the site where my hydrangea is going to go. But I discovered there were still ice crystals in the first inch of soil (this is the north side of the house, after all) and since dock roots just about go down to China, the last third of most of them was probably still frozen solid. I’m not one to fight a harder battle than necessary. I left them and hope to try again today.

Rundy Pruning Apple Trees

image of man standing on a branch pruning an apple tree - photo by CadieKids, don’t try this at home! Rundy loves his fruit trees. He bonds with them. Nevertheless, the spring rush of chores finds him trying to do everything at once, and the trees often don’t get pruned as soon, or as well, as he would like. Because of last fall’s renovation, we have additional chores, such as cleaning up the huge pile of rubble that didn’t get cleaned up before first snowfall. Rundy has been doing the lion’s share of that as well.


yellow buds of 'Spring Glow' Cornelian cherryI planted this Cornelian cherry ‘Spring Glow’ (Cornus mas ‘Spring Glow’) in 2001. I had seen a photo of a spectacular one growing at Cornell Plantations, looking similar to this. That, and the fact that it blooms before the forsythia were what prompted me to plant it. It has yet to wow me, and the blooms are difficult to see from a distance, at least with a background of brown, dried grass. I’m just hoping it will get better with age.little daffodils and emerging multiflora hyacinthsThese grow in the Birthday Garden near where everyone goes in and out of the house. You can even see them from the kitchen door for a view of springtime on rainy days. The multiflora hyacinths were purchased from McClure and Zimmerman, but the little daffs came from a pot of mixed forced bulbs bought on impulse one especially long winter. My guess is that they are ‘Tete a Tete,’ but I’ll never know for sure. Each bulb has multiplied to form a clump. I could probably dig them up and spread them around, but it’s not exactly high on my list. Way in the back you can see the emerging foliage of Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion.’ Gotta love that daylily. Robust and hardy, spent blooms wither discreetly, a nice lemon yellow and fragrant to boot. According to this website, “in Greek mythology Hyperion was a Titan, the son of Gaea and Uranus and the father of Helios.” It’s also a moon of Saturn. There’s an awful lot of things named Hyperion, actually, but according to the Wikipedia the Greeks don’t say much about him, so I don’t understand the appeal of the name. I will always associate the word Hyperion with the color yellow, however, because the daylily is so strongly embedded in my consciousness.ColtsfootColtsfoot flowers bear a superficial similarity to dandelions, but they bloom earlier. On my way home from errands yesterday I saw bright patches of them in several spots along our road. It is not native (or invasive), but its history as a medicinal plant goes back further than that of our country. I bet the first European colonists brought it over with them. I was dismayed to realize that coltsfoot foliage looks very similar to the invasive garlic mustard, which I have been pulling out in fits and starts as I find it. (Sigh. It seems almost hopeless.) There must be a place in the cold climate phenology for coltsfoot blooming. It seems to be about a week behind the first peepers. “When the coltsfoot blooms, it’s time to plant . . .” Or maybe, “When the coltsfoot blooms, it’s time to start serious weeding.” That reminds me, I have a patch of dock to extirpate. Talk to you later.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

Judith April 21, 2006, 7:29 am

So glad I stopped by–you have solved one of my mystery plants for me–Coltsfoot…it is growing down our lane in patches that increase every year to my delight. For one, the honeybees are attracted to it and it is early food for them. I think it is very pretty. It is silent after flowering–I almost need to take notes as to where it disappeared underground. As for dock & rocks–we could have a contest of whose pile is highest. Oh, my aching back!

Kathy Purdy April 11, 2006, 5:43 pm

To put it bluntly, we mow it. Period. About the only thing my lawn has that yours doesn’t, is sun. And perhaps moisture. The “lawn” in the background is very moist in spring, verging on squishy. I notice the lawn on the other side of the house, where it is dryer, is not as green. Also, the camera is getting the grass at an angle, so you don’t see how patchy it is. This post explains our lawn philosophy:

Alice Nelson April 11, 2006, 4:30 pm

You’re way ahead of us. We just dug out and scattered around a mound of plowed up snow in front that was covering some little bulbs trying to come up as well as weighing down my Oregon grape holly bush. At least the leaves didn’t get sunburned under the snow! It still has bunches of blue berries from last year – not in good condition. The Little Princess Spirea still has a load of snow on it, and the
P. G Hyadrangea is broken back pretty badly from the snow pile it was under. Will have to put that in another location. The snow has to go someplace. At least the street cleaner came by so our street looks less like a gravel road.
There is a school across the street so they sand very heavily on our corner. It’s an experience to find what under the snow after it has gone. I do have some crocuses in bloom in the lawn, which is sitll brown and covered with sand. We use a power sweeper on it.

Elizabeth April 11, 2006, 1:51 pm

Wow, your grass looks really green in the background. I’m trying desperately to have some sort of lawn…what are your secrets? Elizabeth