Monday, March 26, 2012

The Arrival of Spring!

Our never-ending November has abruptly come to a close and I am happy to say that, in every sense of the word, spring is here.  As a gardener, the arrival of spring brings with it a mix of emotions and responsibilities.  The surge of excitement associated with flowering trees and bulbs is accompanied by things like weeding, mulching, amending, cleaning, pruning, and assessing any winter damages to shrubs and perennials.  Gleefully, I can say that my garden apparently suffered only one fatality over the past winter:  a small, young Stachys byzantia (lamb's ear) which honestly didn't look so hot last fall.  She can be replaced easily...

Like I mentioned before, spring brings gardeners a mix of emotions.  Well, this spring is 10x more emotional than any one before.  Never in my life have I seen lilacs blooming in March--nor do I want to ever again in my life.  Never before have I seen daffodil blooms killed by heat.  Never before have I witnessed all species of flowering trees blooming simultaneously--let alone in the last week of March.  While stunningly beautiful beyond compare, this early spring has me concerned for the months ahead.  So many plants are breaking-bud weeks earlier than they should and thus assume a good deal of risk for damage from April or May frosts, which believe me, are just as possible as the 86 degree weather of last week.  I am keeping my frost-shy Hydrangea macrophylla shrubs covered up for at least another week or two (I generally uncover between April 1 and April 15).  Heck, just the other day I cut my daylilies back to the ground because they were already as tall as they should be in mid-May!  Talk about a mix of emotions there!

A show of spring-flowering trees in my neighborhood:  L to R, Callery pear (white), magnolia (magenta), Callery pear (white), weeping cherry (white, center, behind pear tree), magnolia (magenta), and Callery pear at far right

Don't get me wrong, I love spring and I love summer even more so I relished in the 80 degree March weather.  Relished with a capital R.  I also relished the opportunity to get loads of yard work completed that I was unable to finish last fall due to time-constraints (read:  laziness).  A wise gardener once told me that the telltale sign of a "true" garden is one which is constantly changing, day to day, season to season, year to year.  Much in that same spirit, I spent many hours moving plants around my yard.  Honestly, most of my perennials and even a couple of my shrubs have been relocated once:  some twice, and some even three or four times.  Spring is generally an exceptional time to move plants around because rainfall + temperature + all of that winter-stored energy gives plants plenty of energy to "heal" from any over-stimulated shovels or spades.

While I normally do not do a whole lot of planting in March, this year was an exception since garden centers decided to open a few weeks early.  Early spring is also bare-root rose season which is always fun!  I was able to find several great deals, and make several great additions to my gardens over the past two week including:

  • $0.38 daffodil and tulip bulbs at the Miamisburg Walmart store (I bought five daffies and four tulips:  two red-and-whites and two yellows)
  • $2.50 bare-root roses at the Miamisburg Big Lots store (I snatched 'Blue Girl', a strongly fragrant, lavender-purple hybrid tea rose)
  • $20 for well-budded, 3'-tall Magnolia x 'Jane' bushes at the Miamisburg Lowe's store (I bought two since magnolias are sentimental favorites of mine.  Also, magnolia bush flowers seem to withstand wind and rain better than those on magnolia trees).
  • $9 for Grade #1 Knock Out roses at the Springboro Walmart store.  I've been shopping for plants all of my life and just like how some people can see the perfect shirt or pair-of-shoes from a mile away, I  have a sixth-sense for plants at garden nurseries.  Without knowing what I was doing, I RAN over to a bunch of roses and SCORE!  A 'Sunny Knock Out' (yellow)!  Just throw it in the bag...
  • $6 for a 12" tall, healthy, very fragrant boxwood at the Miamisburg Lowe's store.  The aroma of boxwood is, pardon the pun, a perennial favorite.
  • $10 for oversized pots from the West Carrollton Meijer store on Springboro Pike (steal of the century considering these things usually cost three or four times that amount).  These will become home to some new hydrangea shrubs to be purchased in a month or two....
  • My favorite find:  $5 "florist" hydrangeas at the Miami Township Aldi store near the Dayton Mall.  Yes, you just read Aldi.  Florist hydrangeas are perfectly fine hydrangeas that have been "forced" to flower at a young age to be sold for Easter, Mother's Day, etc.  They require some extra TLC after being "forced", but will mature to become beautiful, garden shrubs like any other hydrangea.  I was ecstatic to find two very desirable varieties:  Hydrangea macrophlla 'Leuchtfeuer' (a pinkish red mophead) and macrophylla 'Blaumeise' (one of the choicest blue lacecap hydrangeas out there).  
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blaumeise' bringing a taste of summer to my college dorm

In closing, I hope some of you were able to get out and do some gardening-related activities recently, whether in your own yard or maybe at a community garden or park.  It's garden time, people.

Daffodil blooms

Weeping cherry 'Snow Fountain'

Tulips and cherry blossoms

My new red-and-white tulips

My new yellow tulips

New daffodils in the sidewalk garden, cultivar:  'Tete-a-Tete', an old classic.  Other members of this bed:  Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus', purple barberry, Echinacea purpurea 'Pink Double Delight' and 'Tiki Torch'

Weeping cherry 'Snow Fountain'

Our toy poodle, Coral, modeling one of the two new 'Jane' magnolia bushes.  This one is planted next to our driveway and looks a little crooked because it's on a hill.


  1. Your Magnolia and cascading Cherry trees are blooming so lovely. Sounds like you got some good buys there on some great plants. I had to laugh about you moving your perennials. It is good to know that I am not the only one who is always moving plants around. LOL!

  2. I will be moving a whole slew of plants this weekend! Hydrangeas, daisies, spiderwort, lamb's ear......

    A gardener's day of work is never done!