The back yard had three small beds on the south side. I decided to consolidate. First I re-arranged the rocks to make one continuous wall, then I brought in some old horse manure, and last planted and added a layer of wood shavings mulch from the stables. Here’s the before and after:These last few days have been too hot to do much, but in the early cooler mornings I managed top lay down some hay mulch and move those bossy ferns. Here is the new fern patch: and here are some areas mulched with hay. It’s looking to be a dry summer so mulch is critical if I don’t want to stand around holding a watering hose.
This past week I turned 55, and the garden gave me a lot of “presents”. This morning I walked around the garden with the camera.
David built a new garden “gate”. Here is Mr Fluff trying it out. It’s an old screen door and it swings both directions. Very handy!In the back yard I am planning another small wall. The ground is very dry, I discovered as I dug out the widened path in preparation for wall building. We bought a little bird house as my birthday present. So far no birds have moved in. Maybe we have it too low? We might move it in another week and see if we get any takers.White Garden: I bought a nannyberry (viburnum lentago) from a local nursery and planted it at the back of the white garden–these are native and grow around here, reaching ten feet! The three goatsbeard plants are coming along as well, and the two white hydrangea shrubs are leafing out. As for blooms, only the narcissus are around now, and the solomon’s seal. Back Yard panorama: Here is the back yard view for May 23:The obligatory cat picture: I sat for a few minutes in the hosta corner at the bottom of the front yard. Mr Fluff, who was following me around the gardens, saw me sitting and made a bee-line for my lap.
Challenges: I have a thuggish fern, an Ostrich Fern, at the bottom of the front yard. I have a few other types that are smaller and better-behaved, but this one is trying to take over the world. I have reluctantly decided that it has to go. I’m going to transplant it in two spots where it can’t do any harm: the bed next to the garage, where it can fight it out with bishop’s weed, and a dark north-facing corner where it can compete with grass, stinging nettles, and more bishop’s weed.
This morning before coming to the office to grade final exams, I walked around the yard taking pictures. First, some narcissus photos; they are still stealing the show in the garden, with the early ones faded but new ones just starting to open.
The tulips are also in full bloom now. Some are being stolen for lunch by squirrels, but there are enough so far left to show their amazing colors.
Other plants that are blooming include Fritillaria meleagris (snake’s head fritillary) and Leucojum (Summer Snowflake), Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder), fern-leaf dicentra (Burning Hearts), various primroses, and Mertensia (Virginia Bluebells). And of course pulmonaria has been blooming for quite a while already.
Elsewhere in the garden some perennials are just starting to emerge from winter slumber:
As for the birdhouse–it took a pair of tree swallows less than 12 hours to claim it. They are now busy stuffing it with straw and other things to make a nest!
It was chilly and breezy for the Mother’s Day garden party but we still had a nice time chatting and eating inside. A few intrepid souls put on coats and walked around the garden. One guest brought a hand-made bird house, which we put up this morning where we can see it from the kitchen window. We will keep an eye on it and report on which birds grab this fancy real estate first. To get ready for the party I went into gardening high gear and got three new walled beds made. I posted about the small patio bed last time. I also worked on the front yard. It took four hours from start to finish. Here are the photos:
In the space between the meditation garden and the back yard we had planted a row of forsythia. They never bloomed and we finally decided to give up on them. I got out the shovel on Saturday and dug out the roots, which was a heavy job. Then I rolled a big decorative rock as a main feature for a new rock-lined bed. I added a wheelbarrow load of aged horse manure compost and planted some annuals. As a finishing touch I added a piece of garden art made by my niece Rachel. Elsewhere in the garden the wood primrose is blooming a bright purplish pink, and is trying to escape its bed. I plan on transplanting the wanderers to a new bed. Another escapee is a little patch of foam flower in the front yard hosta bed.Under the kitchen window is the bed that faces north and is always last to thaw and last to bloom. I raked it and uncovered the hosta shoots. The bright green in the center is a white bleeding heart (dicentra spectabilis). I’m planning to move this one to the new white garden a friend of mine is creating. I have other white dicentra that I’ll move to my own white garden. And speaking of my white garden, we put out the lovely metal lotus given to us at Christmas as a garden decoration for this new Moon Garden project. Here it is:The daffodils are in full bloom and love this cool weather. These are just a few of the showier daffodils coming up–these are part of the “daffodil 100” collection I bought from the wonderful Colorblends company. While I was doing all this rock-wall building and party prep Mr. Fluff was, as usual, relaxing!
I got this idea because we don’t sit in the corner, and it just called out for a little raised-bed rock-lined garden. I stopped by a local nursery and bought $35 worth of annuals to plant there.Then I realized that, although this corner faces south, because of the growing elm and maple trees on the hillside nearby, it doesn’t actually get full sun. Then I thought, I’ve been reading this great book about the importance of native plants to support our native bugs and birds and other wildlife. So I went around the yard with a trowel and carefully dug up small pieces of the following plants. Not all are native, but most are, and all can tolerate part shade.
There are eleven kinds of plants I transplanted there altogether; here is the complete list:
- tiarella foam flower from our own woods
- three kinds of primroses, one from nearby woods
- pink and white bleeding heart from my sister
- wild ginger from our own woods
- woodland phlox from the roadside in nearby Heuvelton
- forget me not from the in-laws’ yard near Albany
- violets, both purple and yellow wood violets here when I got here
- purple columbine from Eleanor’s garden
- sweet woodruff from a friend’s garden in town
- pulmonaria I can’t remember where from
- woodland anemone from a catalog, but it grows around here
Just after I planted them, we had a bit of rain, and this morning they all appear to have made the move without a problem. Now, where will I put those annuals?
My next project is to build a nice stone wall at the top of the front yard. I already have it done in my mind–but the actual doing has to wait until classes are over! I did, however, take the before photos already! Here they are:
that’s from the driveway side–here is from the other side:
Stay tuned for the “during” and “after” photographs. I am hoping to finish it before the garden party on Mother’s Day.
This is really, for me, the sign that the gardening year has begun. Of course I am out there weeding and edging and raking to get the garden spiffed up for visitors, but the Mother’s Day party is the curtain opener. It’s partly because it always coincides with the last week of the semester. Yes, I still have grading to do, but the teaching semester is pretty well done and my thoughts turn to the garden.
I think I’ve been doing this for about 3 or 4 years now. It started out as mostly a way to share my growing collection of narcissus. A few years ago I bought a collection called “golden legacy” from White Flower Farm, and had the party to share the glory with friends.
The narcissus are the stars of the show, but I also have pulmonaria blooming by then and a few tulips. Forget-me-nots are just starting, violets are definitely well along. Hyacinths have faded.
Looking back in the last few years, it seems that 2014 was a late year–maybe it was cold that year? You can see in pictures from the week of Mother’s Day that I had done all the raking and clearing, but not much was blooming.
Last year we had that freakishly hot March, so Spring came early.
This year we had a nice warm spell that tricked all of us into putting away our winter clothes, and then we got a few really cold weeks. The garden last weekend was coming along about as usual, but the ground is dry after not much snow falling this winter. So I am happy to see this light persistent rain of this week. I just hope it clears off for the garden party!