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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mary, Mary, quite contrary . . .

how does your garden grow?

I've had that nursery rhyme in my head, running on a loop, the past couple of days. I thought you might like to see what's coming up in my gardens.

One of two self-fertile cherry trees. This one blooms first, sometimes too early for the bees.

The tulips that I planted last autumn. I had forgotten what I'd chosen, so this was a delightful surprise!

One of five apple trees. This is the first to bloom and will give us fresh-eating, red apples in late August.

A very unpretty garden area. I worked on this most of yesterday morning. It was back-breaking work for this old biddy. (I plan on milking my old lady status as long as I can, that is until someone mentions putting me in a "home". Then I'll become capable and able-bodied once again!) I cultivated the weeds out, brought in 5 bags of top soil, raked it well, plopped down some stepping stones, then planted pole beans, 2 kinds of bush beans, some pumpkins, and have the row cover on to warm the soil for tomatoes seedlings. This is a temporary garden area. Eventually I'd like to add a small garden house to this part of the yard (my term for a shed with a window and covered front porch).

Next month's salads -- leaf lettuce on the left, spinach seedlings on the right.

The shallots that I planted in October. The bulbs will be ready to dig in July.

The blueberries are about to bloom.

I am trying out a new kind of pea for our garden. These are self-supporting. The packets say they don't require any trellis. We shall see. I've planted both snap and shell self-supporting peas up against the low stone wall that I built a few years ago from found rocks.

The rhubarb is so ready to pick. I just haven't had time to make anything with it since Easter and rhubarb pies.

Lemon balm can be cut for tea any day now. It's the first of my tea herbs every spring.

This is the small pond in our yard. There's a large, natural pond at the back of the property.

We have a pair of ducks who like to come up to the small pond to sun themselves in the afternoon.

The strawberry beds and raspberry beds. My husband is working on paving the walkway between the berry beds.

This is a boxwood hedge that is near the street edge of our property. I grew that hedge from cuttings off of 1 bush. On the other side of the hedge are two pear trees, on either side of a crabapple tree.

The pear tree on the left is just now in bloom. This is the tree that gave us those beautiful pears last September.

The hostas are just now coming up. These are the earliest of the different varieties.

The Italian prune tree is just now leafing out, and has a few blossoms forming. Last year was a bumper year of plums, so this year may be leaner. Fruit trees sometimes get into alternate-year bearing habits. There is a way to break that cycle. Thin the blossoms in a bumper year, before fruit forms.

The red and black currants are in bloom now. Their blossoms are not at all showy.

The red currants do rather well in the shade of a cherry tree. 

The bleeding heart is in bloom now. When I bought this plant, it was touted as a May bloomer in our area. But here it is in bloom in April. Go figure!

I dump all the coffee grounds at the base of the blueberry bushes. The grounds acidify the soil and add a mulch to hold in moisture. Blueberries don't like to stand in water, but they do like a steady level of moisture.

My parsley that I started from seeds was way overgrown for the light garden. I finally got it planted out into the herb circle.

And, of course, I found several of these! I popped the tops off, to keep seeds from spreading, until I can get out there with a shovel and dig them out.

So, what's coming up in your garden?


  1. I wish that I had your garden. I can see a plan and a lot of hard work have made a beautiful and productive place. I have a more natural look complete with invasive weeds and critters that like to eat the good stuff. Could you draw a picture of you gardens and post it sometime?

    1. Hi live and learn!
      I've got that on my list. I just need to find the time to sketch it out. I would love to have some "critters" like yours (deer especially). We have ducks, squirrels, raccoons and rats (yes, rats outside, too!).

  2. Your garden looks great! It's been so cool here in Massachusetts that a lot of my herbs aren't coming back that well (can't find the mint and the lemon balm looks sickly). I can't find my rhubarb, either! Hope it bounces back!

    1. Hi Pamela,
      My mint isn't back yet, either. I lost 2 thyme plants and 1 rosemary plant this winter, as well. I'm starting over with both. I'm sure your rhubarb will indeed bounce back. It's pretty hard to kill rhubarb!

  3. Lili,
    Such a lovely and big garden you have! I would love to have that space. It reminds me of a park-so interesting how intune you are to all of your plants-they surely are thriving under your care!
    My garden is growing petunias, geraniums, sweet william and roses! I have tried veggies so many times but something just isn't right!
    Happy Thursday-

    1. Hi Jemma,
      I have found that photographing our gardens has helped me to see it's better side. So often I focus on all the moss and weeds. But seeing them through the lens of a camera lifts my eyes up to really see the rest.

      My guess is spring is THE season for beauty in your area, with all sorts of flowers in bloom. I'm looking forward to roses, but have a couple of months yet.

  4. Waaa! Nothing. Here in Canada we're just in taking-off-the-winter-coat weather. It's still unpredictable with frost. Also my area has very heavy clay so my beds are still unworkable. We've only been here two years so I keep telling myself that it takes time. I LOVE your garden, the mix of pretty and practical and I ESPECIALLY admire your hedge! How long ago did you plant those cuttings?

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Soon, very soon, spring will arrive there, too! I can hardly believe that April is more than half over.

      I started that hedge I think about 15 years ago. I took cuttings and allowed them to form roots for a year, then potted them in small pots for another 2 years. After those first 3 years I transplanted. And they were absolute babies. I think the hedge really began to look mature about 6 years ago.

      And you're right, it does take time. At 2 years, our yard was still a mud bowl in fall, winter and spring! Yours will come along in time, too.

  5. Your garden is awesome :) I've been meaning to ask you - I planted some kale seeds and have tall skinny seedlings with two leaves at the top. They're all kind of bent over though, and I was wondering if this is normal or maybe they're not getting enough sun. My new place is surrounded by quite a few trees, so getting a sunny spot is a bit of a challenge!

    1. Hi Economies,
      yeah, it sounds like they're not getting enough sun. They're outside, is that right? (Not seedlings in a window indoors.) Do you have a spot outside that gets about 4-6 hours of continuous sun per day? I'd have to say that 4 hours would probably be the minimum for something like kale. What else do you have growing outside? Parsley is another one that I can plant in semi-sun and it still does well enough. Good luck!

  6. Spring has definitely arrived in your backyard -- and what a great start to what I hope is another highly productive harvest. I'm so envious of your incredibly healthy looking lemon balm. It's one of my favourite herbs to grow (as annual, sadly) so I was drooling over your gorgeous pic.

    In my yard, I still have way to0 much snow. I can see my raised beds, but can't get to them yet, due to 3 feet of snow between my path and the garden area.

    1. Hi Jayne,
      I should find more ways to use lemon balm, in addition to tea, and added to lemon poundcake.

      I am realizing, now, how fortunate a spring we've had this year, in the pacific northwest. While it's not exactly toasty warm here this week, I can not imagine seeing snow everywhere still. But your beautiful spring will come all in a rush! And on the bright side, no weeds to pull or lawn to mow, yet!

  7. I love your yard! I spent an hour yesterday just wrestling with weeds-that was my workout for the day. I did splurge on two dahlias though :)

    1. Hi Cheapchick,
      Tomorrow, if the weather is dry enough, I'll be out there with the weeds. I didn't get to weed-pulling the other day, and the yard is needing it!

      Good luck with your dahlias! My neighbor across the street grows beautiful dahlias. I have tried twice only to have the sprouts eaten by slugs. I'd like to try again some year, maybe in a different spot.

  8. Well... under a layer of frost cloth and about 6 inches of snow I've (hopefully still) got snap peas, spinach, onions and lettuce seedlings coming up. In my little souther window greenhouse I've got summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, egg plant, and various pumpkins and winter squash all sprouting.

    I just hope we get some actual spring weather... they're saying more snow on Monday. It got down to 14 degrees last night. OY! But knowing how Colorado weather goes, it could very easily be 85 and scorching in a week or two. Oh, the challenges of Rocky Mountain gardening! :-)

    1. Hi Cat,
      Oh no! I hope your tiny seedlings are surviving. What whacky weather! We lived in Utah for a few years and I do remember snow in mid-April. But what you will have is a quick warm-up, and your tomatoes, peppers, egg plant and squash will all love that, barring a draught. If it's not one thing, it's another, right?

      My gardening plan is always to plant a whole lot, with the thought in the back of my mind that not everything will turn out as planned.

      Let's hope that any snow you get on Monday will be minimal and short-lived!

    2. I have a very similar gardening plan. In fact, as I'm planting the seeds I'm generally saying something like "One for me, one for the squirrels, one for me, one for the birds..." :-)

    3. There's an American rhyme along those lines, "one for the blackbird, one for the crow, one for the cutworm and one to grow". The English version is "one for the rock, one for the crow, one to die and one to grow".

  9. So pretty! Our only pond is the one in our basement ... sigh. The snow EcoCat Lady is getting is coming down as record amounts of rain for us. Boo! But my daffodils are finally blooming and my hubby says the rhubarb is coming up.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Do you have standing water in your basement? Oh, I hope that can be resolved quickly!

      And I hope all this rain will benefit the farmers, and not hinder their planting. I haven't heard a long-range forecast for this summer yet. Your rhubarb should really love the rain. I know ours does best in wet springs. Hope the rain lets up soon!

    2. Me and everyone else in the area! I'm learning to dislike the words "historic" and "rainfall" in the same sentence. Really, it's more of a nuisance than a disaster. At least we can stay in our home! The rivers are going to be at "historic flood level" this weekend (See? Historic is a bad word in some contexts!) and I shudder to think what some of the homeowners by the rivers are going to go through.

    3. Oh wow! The news has been flooded with stories related to the Boston explosion and Texas explosion. I don't watch a whole lot of news, so I didn't realize it was that bad! You are probably REALLY looking forward to some sunny and warm skies. I'll be keeping you and your area in my prayers.

  10. Beautiful gardens! We are still stuck with lots of snow on the ground here. Someday Spring will come!

    1. Hi Sharon,
      It just seems so unimaginable that there is snow in places still! Your spring should come soon, though, right? And then all that glory will come at once!

  11. You have been working so hard! I love your "hardscaping" features like the pond area, rock wall and paving stones. Also the little hedge around the prune/plum tree!

    1. Hi anexacting,
      With all our rain here (which brings tons of weeds and moss everywhere), we learned early on, that hardscape was a lot easier to maintain than planted areas. But it has taken a lot of time and work to install. It's a lifetime plan, and we intend to be in this house for a long time, fortunately.


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