Sunday, March 31, 2013

Maybe Spring is Here Now

We've had a few mild days, with temps in the 60s, but they are saying we could get almost half an inch of snow tonight.  I think the highs for the next few days are supposed to be in the 40s.  I don't remember for sure what numbers they were showing, because I was pouting about the snow.  I did get most of the leaves out of the flower beds over the last few days.  I left some on purpose for a little mulch.  Larry isn't tickled about it, but I told him the plants would grow large enough to hide the leaves soon.

It's time to start showing what's growing in the different areas of the yard.  I decided to start by taking some photos of the east side of the house today, since it was mostly shaded.  The first two photos, though, I went back out later, when this part was fully shaded, as it was sunny up to the egress window when I took the other photos.

I started thinning out the irises last year, and see I am not finished.  The pasque flowers next to the black border are barely up, and not visible in this photo.  I was looking at last year's blog posts, and I'm thinking they were blooming the end of March.

The Woodland phlox is up.

I'm glad to see the Zig Zag goldenrod has spread some.  This kind does not need as much sun as some others goldenrods.

I need to decide whether I will thin the spiderworts or remove some of them.  They are so pretty much of the time, but sometimes die back and get ratty looking in the summer.

The Mountain mint, I think Short-toothed has spread a bit more than usual.  I didn't get the stems picked up like I usually do.  I'll have to pull out what's growing in the Amsonia.  I just looked at the USDA Plants Database to make sure this is the one I'm thinking it is, because I have at least three kinds of Mountain mint.  I found there are even more kinds than this, and many of them are native to Nebraska.  I think I knew that, but I seem to be forgetful lately.

This is probably the most crowded corner, but the plants in it seem to not mind growing in the same space.  There are irises, 'Fireworks' goldenrod, and Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne', and the Baptisia is not up yet.

The next section is under the garden window, and next to a basement window.  I've decided to take out the Russian sage that is in front of the bed frame.  It gets too tall and bush, and crowds other plants in the area that I like better.  Can you see the Hellebore clump?

The Virginia Bluebells are not spreading as much as I'd like, but I'm tickled they are coming up.

Here's the Hellebore.

This is looking back toward where we came.  I am looking forward to the flowers filling up the spaces.

I am pleased the Bleeding Heart is coming up for its second year here, after having to move from its spot under the tree that had to come out.

I call this Virginia Waterleaf, but when I looked it up, I see it's also called Eastern Waterleaf.  It's native to Nebraska.  I deadhead it to prevent it from self sowing, as I've heard it can be prolific.

Continuing to the area next to the back yard, I have a gap to fill, since I decided to take out the Bear's Breeches, because it was so big, and I didn't know how big it was planning on getting.  It can spread aggressively, and I didn't bury the barrier around it that I had planned to.  I want to plant something native to our area here.

I am thinking this is gentian.  I have a couple others in the front yard.  I am pleased to see them.

This is Lovage.  It is related to Zizia auria, a native plant I just learned about a year or so ago and planted.  Not only do the blooms look alike, but the leaves do, too, as they are coming up.

The daffodils should be blooming soon.

I'm trying to decide if I want to keep the globe thistle plants.  The flowers have been having something eating on them, and they don't look good for very long.

We've made it to the shed.  I plan on taking out the variegated grass that's in front of the ladder.  It sprawls all over other plants in the area, and doesn't stay upright.  I am also taking out the lirope.  When we added on at church a number of years ago, I brought a clump home.  It has spread more than I wanted it to.

The lead plant is one of the last plants to green up in the spring.

Well, there is not much to see yet, but soon, there will be much less dirt showing!

At this point, some of you have lots of blooms, and others are still waiting for snow to melt.  Happy Easter, and may God bless you and yours.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Still Waiting for Spring, Changes in the Garden

Again, I start with a photo from last year, March 22.  Spring did come earlier last year, but when I looked at some photos from 2011, saw that the season was pretty close to this year, just a touch farther along.  I realized that I am ahead in getting the winter growth taken off this year than I was in 2011, so that's a good thing.

While waiting for gardening season, I've been hatching plans to make some changes in the yard.  Even though I've thinned out some of the Irises, they are still taking up more room than I'd like.  They and the daylilies are pretty when blooming, but don't look so good when they aren't.   Plus, last year's hot dry weather was hard on them.  I have decided to dig out the ones in the curb area and replace them with some plants that are native to our area, or nearby areas.  I'm thinking of putting a few prairie dropseed clumps along here, and maybe some Prairie Smoke plants or Heuchera in front of them.  I won't know until I place the plants here and there, and see what I think will work.  I am not good at planning ahead of time.

Yes, we had more snow this weekend.  These Crocus blooms have been through a lot, but they sure are keeping their color awhile!

I also plan on removing the couple clumps of Kniphofia plants from the east flower bed, which is on the right of the sidewalk as one approaches our house.  They get very ugly when not blooming, and I want to put some pale coneflowers, and maybe some Foxglove Penstemons and/or Liatris liguilis in there.  I'm also going to thin out the Drumstick alliums, leaving just a couple or three.

I can't remember what kind of Penstemon I planted in the west front planting area, but I'm pleased to see a couple clumps looking ready to grow.

I fall sowed some Prairie Larkspur, and sure hope they come up.  This is a seedling from the annual kind.  I deadheaded them last year, so I'm thinking this must be from seeds left the previous season.  I guess I'll let it grow if the others don't come up, but will be sure to not let it go to seed.  I also planted seeds of Cleome serrulata, Euphorbia corollata, Desmanthus illinoensis, and Penstemon cobaea.  I haven't seen signs of them coming up yet.  I'm not sure how early they normally start growing.  I know the non native Cleomes don't come up until the first part of May or so.

I've had this Ornamental Onion plant awhile.  I don't know how to tell if it's one of our native ones.

After growing several clumps of Heuchera richardsonii, I am not as fond of the hybrids that I have.  I want to divide these and move them around so I can have more.  They look good all year.

There are several kinds of Pussytoes, and I don't remember which one this is.  I tried to find it on the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum site, because that's where I got it, but they don't have it on the current list of plants they are selling.  This is a nice native groundcover, and I have been dividing it and placing it around.  I found out there are male and female plants.  I need to pay closer attention to the blooms this year and figure out which these are.

The cup plant is up.  It looks like it is not spreading farther than I want it to so far.  It's one the books say to be careful of in the home garden.  I chose to cut the blooms off last fall before they could go to seed so that the neighbors would not end up with it in their yards.

Even though I am currently only planning on buying perennials native to our area, I will keep my favorites that are not.  Hellebores are such early bloomers, that they are keepers for me.  Can you see the snow under and behind this clump?

I am pleased that some Pasque flowers that I planted either last year or the year before are up and about to bloom.

I liked how the water drops were clinging to this bud.

The tulips are peeking through.  Last year, at this time, they were blooming already.

There are more things coming up, but I still have a lot of leaves on the ground, waiting for the temps to warm up.  It looks like we will have several highs in the 50s next week.  I hope it keeps getting warmer after that.

I have had a cold since Friday evening, and have not had much energy.  I spent a lot of time today, rereading sections of a book called, Prairie-Style Gardens, by Lynn M. Steiner.  I like how she talks about different ways to go about planting more natives, or even an all out prairie.  She speaks to both beginners and the more experienced.  In her section on the individual plants, I like all the information she gives on where each is native to, what growing conditions it prefers, whether it is suitable for the smaller garden or a larger prairie, and also what kinds of wildlife are attracted to the plant and for what purpose.  She even talks about which plants rabbits and dear either prefer or don't usually eat.  I know from experience what the rabbits like here that I've planted so far, and her book did confirm that.  Oh, and she suggests other plants to have growing near the one profiled.  She does also mention cultivars of different plants, explaining that some would not ever consider those, but that maybe it is better for these to be planted than more exotic plants.

When I first started trying to find native plants, I was steered by some workers of the plant sales to get some cultivars, like the Heavy Metal, Northwind, and Shenandoah Switchgrasses.  Later, I found the native kind, and got one of those.  At this point, I hope to only choose the natives, but will keep the cultivars for now.  They are nice looking plants. 

Some other books I like are, Gardening with Prairie Plants, by Sally Wasowski.  There is a lot of good information in that book.  I have also enjoyed reading Field Guide to Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains: Second Edition.  I have some other books, too, but these are the ones I'm liking the best right now.

I hadn't ordered plants from a nursery since I first started growing herbs in the 1970s, and there were not many available locally.  Since I ordered seeds from Prairie Moon in the fall, I got their catalog, and decided to order some plants online a few days ago.  They have a deal where you can order 38 plants, up to 6 different kinds for $105.  When I ordered, there was a promotion with $10.00 off.  I have seen the prices that are going to be charged locally, so figured this was a pretty good deal.  There are a few plants I still hope to get that they didn't have as plants, but this will help a lot.

I am getting 7 Pale Purple Coneflowers, 7 Button Blazing Stars, 6 New Jersey Teas, 6 Foxglove Penstemons, 6 Meadow Blazing Stars, and 6 Prairie Drop Seed Grasses.  I hope they all grow.  Some of the native plants I've tried have done very well, and some have not.  It's a learning experience, and I am enjoying it.  I just want spring to get here, not only so I can be out there gardening, but so I can see what all has grown, and if anything has self sown.

I hope all is well with you and your gardens!

Oh, and by the way, Gail's Wildflower Wednesday is this week, so I plan to link this in.  Remember to check out her blog for others who show their wildflowers.

Friday, March 15, 2013

What a Difference a Day Can Make

I had this week off, and was sad that our 7 inches of snow that fell last weekend did not allow me to work in the flower beds much.  The highs have mostly been in the 40s.  The first two photos were taken yesterday, March 14.  I'm thinking it got into the 50s.  A lot of the snow had melted, but not all of it.  I did go out and cut back a few things from the street.

The reason Heidi's back feet are up in this photo, is because I got after her for being in the flower bed.  LOL

These photos were taken at different times today.  The high was predicted to be 68.  At one point, I looked at our outdoor thermometer, and it was 71ish.  I was tickled to see most of the snow melt.

I don't know why photos do not appear in the order I want them to be.  I think I am just going to leave them, which means they won't be in the order they were taken.

This was taken after I got last year's growth taken off of the plants in this area.  I pulled the top layer of leaves off, too.  I used two five gallon buckets, and made multiple trips to my garden across the street, where some went on the compost pile, and the rest into piles to break down more slowly, and to be used by whatever critters take an interest in them.

It looks like most of the succulents in the basket have made it through the winter.

This was actually taken after I had done a partial clean up of these areas.  I didn't pick everything up yet, and quit taking up the leaves, because I wanted to make faster progress.  As I was working, I passed over the asters and coneflowers, because I am not going to put them across the street.  I ran out of energy this evening, so those will need to be taken care of later.

I was tickled to see different things coming up.  I can't remember what this is.  I'll have to look at photos of the area to figure it out.

Are these love-in-a-mist seedlings?

I didn't take out the baptisia, because this one had those caterpillars last year, so I will dispose of this foliage differently, too.  Oh, and I didn't get the grasses in this area cut back.  That's OK, because I got more done today than I was thinking I would have time and energy to do.  The most fun was getting peeks at some of what's coming up.  There's quite a bit in this area, too!

I am pleased to see the wild columbine coming up.  I asked it if it has any babies coming up anywhere.  I hope it does, but I haven't seen any so far.

The mountain mints are all up.

I got last year's leaves off of the hellebores today.  They sure brighten things up!

I wish I remembered their names.  This is the first clump I bought.  It likes its spot on the east side of the house.

We are supposed to be cold again for the next week or more, and could even get more snow this weekend.  I'll try to get out on the 50 degree day and get more done.  Some folks in a new "Gardening around Lincoln" group on Facebook were talking about April being the time to take the leaves off.  I think I'll still take the top layer off, because I know there are some things coming up that would appreciate the air.

It felt wonderful being outside today, and I even was able to wear capris and a short sleeved shirt for awhile.  I hope you are getting some time outside, too, even if it's just sitting out there awhile.  Speaking of sitting, early this evening, I sat on the bench in the front to take a break.  I looked up to see a large raccoon crossing the street, and going behind the house across the street!  I called Larry, then called the neighbor.  She came out, and we walked around her house to see if we could see it.  It must not have found anything to be interested in, and moved on.

Oh, and I found a big pile of rabbit poo in one of the beds.  I was not surprised.  I've been seeing a rabbit this winter, and it also left tracks on the snow on the sidewalk to our house the other day.  I hope it decides to eat the clover in our neighbors' yard instead of the plants in our yard.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring is Later than Last Year

I went back a year to find photos of what was going on.   I exported some from March 12 to the 14th 2012 for this post.

A sure sign that spring was earlier last year, was that the pansies were in the nurseries.  This is the tub our then 4 year old grandson planted and tended to.

It just took a few days for some of the blooms to open.

The daffodils were blooming.

I even picked a few chives to cut up on some potatoes.

A number of hellebore clumps were looking quite colorful.

We do have some crocus this year, but look at all the blooms from last year!

I haven't seen any bloodroot yet this year.  I hope it comes up soon.

 This is Liverleaf, Hepatica acutiloba, a purchase from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.

I have seen pasque flower foliage coming up this year, so soon, there will be lovely purple blooms.

This hellebore clump is from a couple days ago.  I need to cut back last year's old foliage so that the new growth can grow unimpeded.

I started doing some clean up of last year's growth Friday, and got a little done yesterday.

Even though spring is later than last year, there are signs of it, and lots of things are coming up.

Today, however, winter has exerted itself, and is trying to hang on as long as it can.

The most recent measurement I could find was 4 inches at 11:00 a.m.  This was taken around 5:30 p.m.  I can't tell how much this is, but it's probably 5 or more inches.  It has pretty much been snowing all day, and still was last I looked, around 7 p.m.

This was taken a couple hours after Larry shoveled.

Heidi loves the snow, and was disappointed I didn't go out front with her so she could run around.  I've been too cold to go out.

I'm glad Larry keeps the bird feeders filled.  I tend to forget them.

I used the zoom from inside the back door to get these photos.  I held the camera outside the door for some of them.  I just noticed the neighbors' deck looking closer than it is.

I think this is a dark-eyed junco.

As I sit on my couch, with 2 afghans and a microwaved heated thingy keeping me warm, I long for 70 or even 80 degree days, and plants popping up all over.  We have had some 50s, and are supposed to yet this week.  The two days in the 60s that were on the forecast are no longer there, so I hope the 50s are able to stay.  I will be thankful for the moisture, and hope that once spring weather comes, it will be here to stay.

I hope you are well, and I know some of you are already enjoying spring.  I will decide to enjoy yours with you until ours gets here.