Sunday, March 20, 2016

The final Selection- March 20, 2016-The first day of Spring

Welcome to the final finals. This is the week to pick the big winner.
It is also the week of the arrival of official Spring. I think that is today, March 20.
But wait. Help. If you know, the answer let me know. It is also the equinox. We know what that means. The day equals the night. We have reached 12 hours of daylight. Or so I thought all these years. No more.

According to the local TV weather website, today, Sunday March 20 will have 12 hours AND TEN MINUTES of sunshine. What? Apparently the point of equality was last week. Is nothing sacred? What about September? Is that a lie too? Or has the earth gotten off its axis and they are not telling us about it? Or does it actually depend on where you are on the planet? This is science, which is always hard. Even when you thought you understood.

Your winner last week, in a close race, was the Lantana. I will not put up the picture since that would be unfair. It is pictured with the other two finalists right below.

The full voting last week was:
Lantana 17
White poppy 14
White waterlily 12
Daffodil 12
Daylily with friends 8

Think about it. It was such a crowded field that the winner only got 26%. Maybe those daylily votes would have been enough to get my favorite, the white poppy, into the finals. Does that sound familiar?

So here they are. You picked them. It turns out the photographs were all taken within 6 days of each other. It was a good week for pictures.

Louisiana Iris- taken on May 30, 2015
What a picture. Let's here it for the sun.
It was a good winter for the Louisiana Iris. They are really growing now. There will be enough to pot up or transplant. If anyone wants some Louisiana Iris, there will be some on the spring sale table. Transplanting sometimes is difficult in my garden as there is not much room. These iris need sun and like moisture.
I should really move them in the late summer. But I sometimes break the rules. Why not? The first rule of gardening is that you do stuff when you have time to do stuff. That can include dividing or transplanting. Last year I divided a little clump of little iris in the very early spring. They still bloomed.

                                                       Lantana-taken on May 31, 2015
This wonder annual flower presents such a great color contrast in itself. The yellow and..what is that color? ? work so well together. Lantana has now become a regular in the garden. Annuals go well with spring bulbs. The bulbs finish and you cover those spots with annuals.Sometimes I think about moss roses. Sometimes I think about California poppies. Now I should think about raking leaves. It is a theme.

Pink Poppy-taken on May 25, 2015
If this contest is any measure the end of May is a good time in the garden. The bulbs are done and the high summer flowers like the daylilies have not yet arrived. Poppies help bridge that time. Maybe I should have an all- time Poppy picture contest. Maybe I should have an all-time May pictures contest. Maybe I could have a contest between a group of pictures representing a particular month. What kind of a team could I put together of August? Well there would be the cactus this last year.

There you have it folks. It is a great group of pictures you selected. Which picture do you like for the best picture of the year?

Bonus section
It is such an incredible time of the year. If I had to pick a time, this would be it. Everything is new and fresh. There are hardly any weeds, and virtually no bugs. The temperature is not too hot, not too cold. There is something new to see and discover every day. I thought I would just give you some of my daily observations.

Sunday I potted up the first bluebells and epimedium.
I also broke down and bought some city yard waste bags. The yard waste in my garden is overwhelming. It seems like I can fill up a bag in about 9 square feet.

Monday was gold crocus day. All the gold crocuses came out all over the yard.
We found the shooting stars coming up. Each day the little lupine sprouts from last year's plants completely cheer me up. Trillium are coming, at least the large ones on the east side of the house.

Tuesday was rain, several times during the day. I found the white bluebells emerging. It was one of those exclaiming out loud times. They are a pale green when they came up. The blue bluebells are a deep purple when the first emerge. The first iris reticulata bloomed. There were many anemone blandas showing up along the front sidewalk. There was also the first little pulmonaria flowers. It looks to be a good year for pulmonaria. The little blue squill or scilla are starting to bloom all over. They are not a carpet yet. There were white crocuses today. Some of the later crocuses are larger, making the tiny ones all so much nicer.

Wednesday- the sun came out today. It was appreciated particularly since we had not seen it for 4 days. Today I found Dutchman's britches coming up, along with several bleeding hearts.

Thursday-more sun, but there was a chill in the air. It will freeze this weekend. The plants that are up have all seen it before. They will be fine. Today I found the first little coneflowers coming up. The primroses are coming. I found the first bud emerging. I potted up some more bluebells, and another hellebore. When I get out to play, I will rotate my tasks. I will rake some more leaves. There is still areas that get neglected. I should really rotate the areas that I neglect. Then I carry shovelfuls of wood chips to the cleaned-up parts of the paths. Finally as a reward I get to take my trowel and go hunt some plant to pot up or transplant.

Friday-the third sunny day in a row. I was able to do a little yard work both before and after work. But I wore my winter coat. It barely broke into the 40's. That is fine since it will slow down the garden acceleration. Today I noticed the pink chionodoxa coming up. Some of them are in the front yard on the south side of the sidewalk. I just noticed that I have a few coming up on the north side of the sidewalk. I did not plant them there. They jumped 3 feet of concrete. Way to go plants. The squill/scilla carpet has arrived on the south side of house. It will spread around the yard over the next 2 weeks. I saw a daffodil blooming about a block away. That will happen in my yard this week, I am sure. I went to the local prison Friday. (That is what I do.) There were hyacinths blooming, right up next to the east side of the entry.

Saturday- will the work ever be done? Today I found the first single bloodroot coming up. It was right next to a little Jacob's ladder. The hellebores really are good. Into my routine of path work and rake work and potting work I added a little bit of weeding. The grass and the creeping charlie come up very easily this early in the season.

So how about pictures.

This is one of the more colorful  crocuses.

I mentioned that one day this week all the gold crocuses came out. There is such a difference between gold and yellow.

Here was this white group. We walked past a yard today on College Street with big compact clumps of crocuses in their grass. It was rather striking. I do not understand when a bulb clumps up and when it just makes a family, but not too close to each other.

I added this picture to show you the jumping principal at work. These aconite just jumped out of the bed into the path. I try to transplant as many of them as I can. I must have missed this bunch.

Hellebores are wonderful. They do hang down however, which makes photography difficult at times. This one is a double. Actually it makes it difficult to even notice that this hellebore is a double.

More hellebores.

Here is a single white hellebore.

I found this picture amusing. I wondered what kind of cross pollination might occur.

This is the white bluebell last spring, the first spring it came up on its own in the garden. It had arrived in 2014 as a transplant. This picture is April 4, 2014. The first year coming up is always later. It also takes most plants including bulbs (not tulips) at least one year to get organized.
The picture is added so you can understand and appreciate the next picture.

Here is March 16, 2016. I am watching to see if any come up around it, from last year's seeds. It is clear that the clump is larger. I wonder if there will be seedlings. If so, what color will they be? At the top of the picture, to the right of the yellow straw, is an emerging blue bluebell. You can see the color difference. I will be sure to transplant the purple plant once I confirm that it is blue.

This was taken on Wednesday

Here is the same bed on Friday.The blue silla or squill is filling in. Saturday afternoon we walked past a lot on Clapp Street in Iowa  City. Clapp Street is off Rochester on the east side of Iowa City. Someone just cut down the scrub trees on the lot in preparation of we assume building something. In between the trees the ground is covered with squill. It was a deep blue. I assume someone could get permission to dig those plants up before the bulldozer comes. I assume that will be soon. I hope they can be saved.

That's it from a very busy Iowa City gardener.
I have bluebells in pots if anyone is interested. I also have a few hellebores.
Stop by when you can. The end of the yard cleanup is in sight.


Bob S said...

Such a hard choice. Each is a winner. Perhaps the same is true of the NCAA basketball playoffs. I only wish the coming November madness offered us similar choices! Thanks for the winter beauty and fun, Philip. Each week has been a chapter in the beauty book.

Catherine Woods said...

This web link,, may go some ways in explaining why the "equal" day/night occurred mid-week last week.

philip Mears said...

I looked at that cite. OK-I forgot about the leap day in February. I accept that this throws the moment off by a day. But I think the daylight counters were saying that the equal day/night was 3-4 days before 3-20.

Faith said...

"I just noticed that I have a few coming up on the north side of the sidewalk. I did not plant them there. They jumped 3 feet of concrete. Way to go plants." !!!

Catherine Woods said...

This explains a bit more about why the equal day/night was not on the actual equinox date: -- something to do with latitude and something called equilux. Here's hoping this is of use to you, Philip.
Kind regards, Catherine