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.


  1. Well, Sue, yes you had more snow. But you certainly have plenty of signs of spring anyway! I can't see any in my garden because of the heavy layers of snow here. Thankfully, I was able to get away to Florida last week. So now I'm catching up on blog visits. Yay! Your Pasque flowers are stunning as they poke through the soil and leaves!

  2. Hi Sue...I hope you feel better soon. I'll need to read these books about native plants. I'm trying to add more to my garden. I'm pretty sure that is a Larkspur seedling coming up. I'd never seen a Pasque flowers....very interesting looking! We got about an inch of snow last night with more on the way today and tomorrow. This weather is just weird!!! I have so many plants waiting in the garage and I'm going to a wholesale nursery (the Master Gardeners are taking a's a couple of hours away) on Friday. My list of plants to buy is very, very long. I sure wish the warm weather of spring would get here!

  3. Yours has always been my favorite gardening blog because it so reminds me of my way of gardening...and maybe my street a little bit too! ;) I am ready this year. Nothing is anywhere near popping up yet, and if it is it's covered in snow as we're in the midst of a late season snow storm. My garden was sorely neglected last year and this year I'm determined to work on it again. Looking forward to your blooms as much as mine!

  4. It definitely looks like spring is on its way in your garden, Sue. For the first time all winter, though, my garden looks like some of your previous posts--we're buried under several inches of snow! I managed to clean up one flowerbed on Saturday while it was in the 50's, but it looks like the rest of the clean-up will be waiting for awhile:)

    I just saw your comment on an old post of mine about prairie dropseed grass. I don't have any growing here, but I think you'll love it--every time I see it, I make a mental note to find some place for it here. I've been getting Prairie Moon's catalogs, too, and have been drooling over several plants. I wish we had a good source for native plants locally, though.

    Hope you're feeling better soon!

  5. What a bummer that the snow just doesn't want to let you go. I hope it warms up there and you get a good long string of nice spring weather. I've ordered bare root plants and seeds as well from Prairie Moon, and I've had pretty good luck with them. It's a great online nursery, and I love that their website has so much good information about the plants and what conditions they need to thrive. I've been tempted to order their flat of 38 plants in the past, but I never have. I hope you post about it when it arrives, I'd like to see how they package it and what condition the plants are in. I'm glad you're keeping your switchgrass varieties, they have such wonderful reddish fall colors.

    Thanks for the review of Lynn Steiner's book, I'll have to see if they have it at the library here. It sounds good.

  6. Sue I share your excitement about your new plants especially the purple cone flowers, and your longing for pretty spring days! I left a comment on Gail's blog... Happy Easter!

  7. Spring is slowly making its way and you sure have signs in your garden. Last year this time all the crocus and hyancinths were blooming and we are getting snow again today so I feel your pain. Just think it gives us more to look foward to and will be more exciting when the blooms arrive! Hope you enjoy all your new plants and happy gardening!

  8. Hello Sue, I was shocked when I saw your first picture with no snow, until I realized it was last year. Winter just wont give up in PA. But you are right, it is a great excuse to read those gardening books. I hope you are making a good recovery from your cold. P. x

  9. I've ordered a lot of stuff from Prairie Moon, mostly bare root plants. They have always provided good plants and service. Your selection sounds great, I don't have the E. pallida or the Liatris, but would like to try them.

  10. So interesting how the weather can speed up or slow down the whole garden. I hope it warms up soon. Our trees are all blooming here already.

  11. You certainly are making good use of being inside with your cold and the snow. Finding plants that work well in your garden is so rewarding. Looking forward to your order arriving.

  12. Hello Sue, it looks like many temperate country bloggers are not true yet with winter. I have learned to wait for the spring flowers too, through these blogposts, because we don't see those plants here. I love the snowdrops and crocus the most, because i have already seen them in person. In your garden, i am wondering if you will be removing all those dry leaves and stems before you plant again. If that is so, then there's a lot of work going on after the winter season, i thought only a big work is there after Fall.

  13. I just took a walk around our snow/ice covered yard...nothing...yet! Ir is supposed to be above freezing the rest of this week. I'm ready to see big changes here! I enjoyed seeing the layout of your yard in the first post picture...beautiful!

  14. Hi Sue! Our snow is melting, too!! Means Spring is truly just round the corner!! Always fun to see what's happening over " your way!"

  15. Hi anyone who subscribed to follow up comments. We had someone call looking for our daughter, and asking us to confirm information she had apparently found somewhere. She did have her cell number so said she was going to call her on that, after finding out this is not really her number. I ended up talking to people on Facebook about it, and someone local said to call the police. I did that, and a nice young officer came and took the report. He said it was probably someone looking for someone to scam. Our daughter did not answer the call from this caller, because she did not know who it was. I had called her right away to warn her, but the caller beat me to her. I'm glad she didn't answer it, but she would have been careful, anyway, because she had to get a different debit card last week. Someone had used it, or tried to use it for something out of our state. Anyway, I ended up not getting to do what I had planned to do this evening, which was visit blogs. Maybe I'll get to do that tomorrow night. Don't forget about Wildflower Wednesday!

  16. Spring is definitely just around the corner. Spring has always been my favorite season of the year. It’s a time of optimism, new beginnings, activity, and time outside with my friends and family.

  17. Lots of buds and blooms even with the snow!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  18. Sounds like you have big plans to add lots again this year Sue.

  19. Sue, we could be on opposite corners of the same street - things about the same here, yet so very far away. I say you're about 10 days ahead of me - just little bits of Hellebores, but not much else, obviously the natives in our gardens know what's happening and are staying well below the ground until it is well and truly spring.

  20. Hi Sue, you have so many plants popping up, so good to see them! I hope you are feeling better. Spring will be here soon and by the looks of your garden, it's already arrived. Love the hellebores, too.

  21. Spring is really ready to bust open for you~I love the pasque flower and found pussytoes growing in the woodlands near us. I wanted to order from Prairie Moon, but it's too hot when they ship for plants to survive planting in my Zone 7 garden. I may order for the fall though...we can plant then. Happiest of WW and may the snow melt and spring arrive. gail

  22. I like the sound of your garden plans Sue. Spring certainly looks like it's about to burst all over in your garden. It always amazes me to see little green things peeking out of the snow in your photos.

  23. Hi Sue, so interesting and such fun to see the bones of your garden. I think I like winter gardens almost as much as spring and summer ones. We can see the texture and stuff. Grasses are wonderful in the landscape. Mine don't look like much now, but soon, oh, they will be quite grand. Happy Spring.~~Dee

  24. I hope you are feeling better soon! Hopefully the small signs of the upcoming spring will cheer you up.


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