As the snows finally subside for the season and the chances of evening frost have finally passed, it is easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to gardening. All that snow has melted deep into the ground and there is no need to worry about watering. Each day of spring presents a brand-new miracle to behold as the earth comes alive. Nature’s magic is in full swing.
As spring matures into summer, the plight of the gardener becomes apparent. Clouds are rolling in. Will it hail? Or, as it was this year, there were no clouds, only baking hot sun. Then the question becomes will it rain? Our rains came late this year but I will talk more on that later. As the garden transcends spring, the true tribulations of the gardener begin.
Quite simply and even more apparent, the typical garden will not survive without supplemental irrigation if you live in an arid climate – as we do in most of Colorado. I personally feel it is irresponsible to create a landscape that requires constant watering. Water is by far the most precious resource and conservation is of paramount importance. With this in mind, my garden primarily consists of plants native to this area or plants that are easily adaptable to our climate and (at times) extreme weather conditions.
Adaptability was certainly put to the test early this season. All around me plants were wilting, the earth was drying and cracking and I was losing plants. I started the habit — which continues to this day — of bringing a five-gallon Home Depot bucket with me into the shower. I position it in a way that manages to catch a lot of the water that would normally flow down the drain. Despite only turning on the water to get wet so I can lather and then again to rinse off, the bucket ends up nearly full. That is five gallons of water every day. I pour this water out on all the beds and if I am feeling generous, the grass. I gravely dislike grass. Beyond the recycled water, I will sometimes get the hose out in the mornings but I am very careful with the amount of water I apply and where.
With so many things that can go wrong in a garden (weather conditions are just the tip of the iceberg), it is a wonder anyone gardens at all. I know I have personally sunk deep into my outdoor chair many times in exasperation. It is arduous work but you know something? Just as Tom Hanks said in ‘A League of Their Own’, “It is the hard that makes it great.” If it was easy and required no effort, there would possibly be gardens everywhere just like the old times — when folks didn’t mind a bit of hard, soul-enhancing, satisfying work.
Oh! The old times! There once was a time when most everyone HAD to garden. That’s right. There wasn’t always a fancy, lit up, refrigerated aisle full of ‘fresh’ produce. If you wanted vegetables – and of course you did as they are paramount to proper nutrition – you had to grow them. You had to not only grow them but harvest them and then prepare them for storage through the winter. Oh, the humanity! I speak facetiously of course but this is an honest reaction in an age when very few bother to make something out of a bit of earth.
By the grace of God, the heat of June and early July dispersed and for the last several weeks we have been blessed with afternoon thunder showers. This coincides with our monsoon season but the cooler days and the plentiful moisture is so very welcome. The garden is responding in kind. The wilted plants have given way to robust, green stems and the struggling vegetables are flowering and will soon bear fruit. In some cases, they already have. For example, I have already harvested enough pickling cucumbers to create several jars of delicious pickles.
Oh, to garden! Just when you are about to throw your hands in the air and wash your hands of the whole affair, it rewards you with bountiful blessings.
The tomatoes are ripening, a small petunia formed from a seed of plantings past is flowering, ears of corn are forming on their stalks, perennial 4 o’clocks are blooming for the first time ever, ancho peppers are forming (those that were planted from seed), sunflowers are blooming everywhere, hummingbirds are flitting about the impatiens and penstemons, birds are darting from feeder to feeder and worms appear in every shovel of earth disrupted. Yes, gardening is hard work but it can be ever so rewarding!
As always, thank you very kindly for reading. I pray your day has been blessed.
And now, some photos from the garden. Enjoy!
It is amazing what can happen in just two and a half weeks! Spring has finally arrived and actually, the temperatures lately have been more summer than spring like. Like all things, this is only temporary though and cooler weather returns this week. With the warmer weather, I am pleased to share that everything seemed to make it through the record cold mentioned in the last post. All the new plants suffered a little bit but overall made it through unscathed. The rock jasmine’s canopy of miniature white flowers died off so I cut them back. Today, I noticed they are coming back in grand fashion. There was some burning on the bellis but through it all, the pink showy flowers are still pink and showy. All the buds formed on the aspens, elderberry, etc., made it through fine as well. There is so much new growth and new surprises every day. It truly is miraculous and so humbling.With the rise in temperatures, I have been very busy improving soil, digging, planting plants and seeds and moving things around to conform to whatever my current mood ends up being. I want to make a point to keep a journal of everything I do outside so I can refer back to it in the future. This will be particularly useful when it comes to planting seeds. I tend to forget not only what I planted but also where and when. Hopefully I can be diligent enough to remember to write in the little notebook every time I am outside. Here are my notes thus far:
Friday, 3 May I planted several Flanders poppy seeds along with some marjoram near the mint julep. I also planted some carrot seeds in the green house.
Saturday, 4 May I planted some purslane. (UPDATE 13 May 2013) I can see the purslane seedlings emerge.Saturday, 11 May
Imperial Giant Larkspur planted behind the juniper shrub. (Note: I am very doubtful this shrub is going to make it. Is the growth (if it is indeed growth) green or grey? It is so hard to tell. It looks so tatty at the moment and though I am a very patient gardener, I am not sure about whether I will keep it.
Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate from Seed Savers planted in large pot near shed
Red Flax (Linum Rubrum) from Native Seed Company (I believe this went in the large pot near shed)
Wave Petunia Mix planted in two small stone planters and also in leaf shaped bird bath. UPDATE 19 May – I converted the bird bath to what it was made for and dumped the dirt with seeds, etc., in retaining wall bed.
Found tag for blackberry planted under the large aspen and now I have its name — It is called Triple Crown Blackberry. This plant has been slow to break dormancy.I retrieved the roses I purchased from Holly Acres. I opted to plant them in front of the large planted area that contains the large aspen tree. I already had the hole for one dug so I placed the rose into its new home. Here is the information on the tag:
(cv. WEKscemala) Chihuly Rose (Floribunda)
In naming a rose to honor America’s famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly, it had to have impeccable style and an ever-changing array of flashy colors. This rose has it all! As the sun hits the opening petals, they blush from subtly-striped apricot yellow to dazzling orange and deep red . . . . producing a remarkable display against the deep dark green leaves and mahogany-red new growth.
Bloom/Size: Medium-large, double
Petal Count: 25 to 30
Fragrance: Mild tea
Parentage: Scentimental and Amalia
Comments: Larger flowers in cool conditions
I purchased another trumped creeper to mirror the other planted on the right side of the patio. I dug its hole today. Here is the information from the tag:
Campsis x tagliabuana ‘Madame Galen’
All summer flowering
Large, fast growing, clinging vine with stems to 15 to 30 feet
Tuesday, 14 May:
Planted some desert sunflower seeds near the Chihuly rose
Thursday, 16 May
Planted old Marigold seeds among the clover under aspen
With the ground wet from fresh rain, I created the other hole for my second rose. Note, when removing from pot, the root ball collapsed. This rose is definitely struggling a bit and the broken root ball is not going to help things. Here is the information from the tag:
Strike It Rich
(cv. WEKbepmey) Deep golden yellow spun with orange-pink. Grandiflora
You are in the money . . . If you love spicy fragrance, loads of bloom and super-long elegant buds of gold polished with rosy pink. The long-lasting sparkling yellow-orange tones are rich and opulent enough to bring out the gold digger in any gardener. But id does not take a stash of expensive chemicals to keep this good lookin’ girl happy in the landscape. The natural disease resistance and strong vigor do the deed. Very dark green leaves and unusual red stems set off the many showy clusters of blossoms. Hit pay dirt with Strike It Rich!
Height/Habit: Medium-tall/upright and bushy
Bloom/Size: Large, double, informal
Petal Count: About 30
Fragrance: Strong sweet spice and fruit
Parentage: ChRiscinn x Mellow Yellow
Comments: ‘Scent-sational’ for a bouquet and ‘beauty-full’ in the landscape.
Hollyhock – Outhouse (Latin: Alcea rosea)
Planted these seeds behind where I buried my little clump of Vinca Major. I purchased these from eBay from Heirlooms R Us Seeds
I threw some of these into the terra cotta pots where I planted some alyssum. These were planted toward the back while blue fax was planted toward the center. I also threw some seeds near the log. These seeds were purchased from Plant World Seeds
Mint from Russia. Planed in the crevices near the juniper
Latin: Nasturtium officinale
Purchased these also from Herilooms R Us. I cannot remember where I put these. I think in the main bed with the clover. It will be interesting to see where it pops up.
Friday, 17 May
This morning I was up bright and early to head downtown to take advantage of the member’s only morning at the gardens. I will create a blog entry dedicated to this but I mention it now to highlight the plants I purchased:
Two Vining Snapdragons
Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’
I also purchased several seeds which I hope to plant soon
The carrot sprouts are emerging so I am very happy the weather will be turning cooler. Other items of note: two days ago, I noticed poppy sprouts and four days ago sweet pea sprouts! Also two days ago, I had one lone daffodil bloom emerge.
Saturday, 19 May
I have a vining plant of some description in the big pot located in the corner of the Adirondack chair seating area. I am thinking perhaps it gets too much sun. It probably is not but still, this prompted me to plant hollyhock seeds around it in hopes of shaded cover. Not stopping there, I planted some around the Viola Odorata as well. One can never have too many hollyhocks planted. I believe I planted more but cannot recall where. I will find out soon enough though.
Curious if the bee balm located in the half whisky barrel where the chamomile is dominating is coming back to life, I moved some leaves where it should be growing and in that area are leaves coming up which look like they could indeed be bee balm. When there are more, I will rub them in the hope I reveal that distinct aroma.
The marjoram sprouts are emerging.The snap dragons are now nestled among the marigolds under the thistle seed feeder. Speaking of which, I am blessed to have gold finches visiting said thistle feeder. I also planted the new marigolds. As mentioned earlier, I decided to move the leaf shaped bird bath to the top area and use it as such as opposed to a planter. I also moved one of the clay gnomes and the before mentioned marigolds were planted at the foot of the gnome.
I rummaged through some boxes and found soil improver along with a lot of old seeds. I spread the optimizer and in a care free fashion, I broadcasted dill, alfalfa, desert bluebells and African daisies in the planted area where the struggling juniper is. This in addition to the copious amount of clover I broadcasted a couple days ago.
I think it is important to include the notes on the dill I planted. The seeds were purchased The Seed Savers Exchange and the name of this variety is Grandma Einck’s Dill. Here is the description on the back:
Grandma Einck’s Dill
Description: Iowa heirloom grown near Festina, Iowa since 1920 by the Einck family (Diane Whealy’s grandmother). Large fragrant heads are great for making dill pickles, spicing up summer salads or as a unique addition to flower bouquets. Foliage is abundant and long lasting. Being permanently maintained at Heritage Farm for its beauty, fragrance and warm memories. Self-Seeding annual.
Despite previous intentions, not only am I leaving the ‘petunia pot’ on the ledge of the planted area under the large aspen but I also added more pots. Filled with compost, I planted all my rock cress seeds (Aubrieta Deltoidea) in these pots along with some bulbs I believe are rain lily bulbs.
This reminds me . . . Yesterday I planted several onion bulbs along with some garlic in the planted area beneath the large aspen. I have a fear of rabbits infiltrating my garden and demolishing my clover patches I am currently enjoying very much. This is one tactic I will begin with to hopefully repel them. Note, I must take care of all the gaps under the fences to prevent them from getting in at all.
Seedlings are emerging from the large pot near the shed. The best part is, I do not know what the seedlings are as it is part of the mix o’ seeds I placed in the middle of the pot. I am anxiously awaiting the Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate Seeds to sprout.
The clover sprouts are emerging in the bed where the struggling juniper is.
Planted some dandelions in the tomato earth boxes and pumpkin seeds in small pots in the greenhouse.
Each day brings something new to behold. Spring has arrived in all its spectacular, miraculous glory. Each moment I am outside communing with my garden I am studying everything looking for new life and I am always filled with joy and amazement at what I see. Until next time, I wish you all the very best and pray your days are blessed.
I leave you now with some images related to all I have written about. 🙂