Planting: Mud Season

– Posted in: Mud Season
16 comments

winter aconiteYesterday I actually planted plants. Outdoors! I consider this just short of a miracle, because the snow isn’t fully melted yet. Here’s how I did it.

Know Where to Plant

First, I made sure I knew where the snow had melted first. Yesterday, the snow was melted over much of the front lawn, but the soil wasn’t thawed everywhere. But I had previously taken pictures, so I knew where the soil was most likely to have lost its icy hardness.

rhododendron surrounded by snow

The snow melts around the rhododendron first–a perfect place to plant early-blooming small bulbs.

Know What to Plant

There isn’t really too much you can stick in the ground this early in the season, especially during the earliest part of mud season. There aren’t too many plants even sprouting yet, but I had access to one that was not only growing, but blooming.

Frozen eranthis rootball

Eranthis can live and bloom even when their roots are frozen solid. (Photo from 2011)

My sister had generously shared more winter aconites (Eranthis), as she had done before. The plants she gave me this year were dug from her lawn, where they had seeded themselves long before she and her husband bought their house. I had to wait almost two weeks from when she gave them to me to when the ground in my colder location was ready to plant. Unlike last time, the rootball wasn’t frozen solid. I managed to tease out the lawn grass roots and break apart some of the larger clumps and plant them around the rhododendron. I even had some teeny seedlings that I planted among snowdrops in other locations.

Gardening, Again

I can’t say it was really warm, 43F (6C), tops. The sun shone weakly through a veil of clouds. It wasn’t what you’d call a gorgeous spring day. But planting those blooming flowers in the earth, I felt like a heavy burden was lifted off me. I felt like a spell had been broken and I was finally my true self again. Out of hibernation, fully human once more, on my knees with my hands in the dirt.
eranthis-winter aconite-small buttercup looking spring flower

This post is part of an ongoing series on mud season.

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.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

16 Comments… add one

Derek Yarnell April 3, 2013, 10:18 pm

I get it. I’m a bit jealous, and I get it.

Nelson April 1, 2013, 1:42 am

“That first planting seems like such a miracle after a long winter. ” Indeed as plants are still adjusting from shifting seasons..

Cindy, MCOK March 31, 2013, 7:41 pm

Oh, such a cheery little flower! I’m so happy for you that winter’s gloom has lifted!

Terry@Heritage Irises March 30, 2013, 12:35 pm

Perhaps we could swap you a bit of warmth for some rain. Great Blog, good reading. Thanks

Jason March 30, 2013, 10:27 am

Our snow is almost all gone, except for a couple of little spots. The ground is gradually thawing. I’m not going to try planting anything for a couple of weeks yet.

Dee Nash (@reddirtramblin) March 30, 2013, 8:58 am

That first planting seems like such a miracle after a long winter. Congrats.~~Dee

Frances March 30, 2013, 5:10 am

Congratulations, Kathy, on the spell being broken and the ice melting and falling to the ground all around you. Those Eranthis are lovely and will be a sign of spring for years to come. May they spread all around your new garden like they did for your sister.

Gail March 29, 2013, 6:09 pm

I am waiting for the feeling Kathy and am glad that you’ve had a chance to garden. Winter has been holding on here, too…we have rain instead of snow and we’ve had a lot of it. Hoping that the forecast is correct and tomorrow will be party sunny!

Donalyn March 29, 2013, 4:09 pm

That is wonderful – I have gone out ana poked around some, but it is so wet, I don’t want to compact the soil, so I can do much. It still feels good to get out there!

Lonnie Thaler @ nuwaveovencritic March 29, 2013, 11:05 am

I love gardening! I’m planning to plant bulbs this Spring. I hope it’s going to be a success. It will be a mixture of Daffodils and Crocus. :-D

Marcia Brown Meigs March 29, 2013, 7:26 am

Know just how you feel. Was out in the thaw two weeks ago and divided a bunch of E. flore plena and ordinary drops. Love the scrambled egg effec although I do try to keep the whites and yellows in separate patches. for the effect. Trouble is that eranthis seeds like mad and will eventually mix..sigh.

Flâneur Gardener March 29, 2013, 4:58 am

Eranthis is one of my favourite spring flowers, simply because it arrives in the dead of winter before even the snowdrops dare show their pretty little heads. Sure, I might not be completely keen on the bright shade of yellow, but in February when they start poking their heads up it’s just the right colour to bring some light into any garden!

Deirdre March 29, 2013, 1:23 am

Snowdrops are another thing that can be moved “in the green”. If you find some in pots, go ahead and plant them.

Kathy Purdy March 29, 2013, 7:36 am

I don’t need to find some in pots. I have oodles of them growing at the old house and this time of year I dig some to replant here whenever I get the chance. Search on this website for snowdrops and you will see what I mean.

Donna@Gardens Eye View March 28, 2013, 10:24 pm

Spring is finally here and some blooms are popping up with large puddles so no gardening this weekend I fear…I think i can do some clean up in the front where it is dry….the weather has been close to 50 each day and will be that way until Monday…once I get out and actually garden i will feel human again…sane and at once exhilarated.

Charlie@Seattle Trekker March 28, 2013, 9:28 pm

I to am aggravated and impatient with spring, though I am still so amazed by each step that moves us all forward to when we will see new plants coming up through the ground. I am trying to learn patience, the same patience practiced so well by your rhododendron. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoy your pictures.

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