Sunday, May 29, 2016

Thoughts at the end of spring-May 29, 2016

Here are some random thoughts as Spring comes to an end.

Rain - We needed it. For the last several weeks it seemed like the rain would always be in Des Moines or almost anywhere else. Last night we had almost an inch. It knocked down some flowers. Peonies are down all around the neighborhood. Some of the lupine took a hit. That is how it goes.

It does make the weeds easier to pull. That keeps me busy going all around the garden.

Warm weather- I would say we have had hot weather but July is not here yet. The temperatures have gotten into the 80's on a regular basis. Going out for a garden session after dinner gets you all hot and sweaty. The warmer weather does mean that the caladium are growing. They might be up to about 40% germination in the 75 pots in the garden. The latest difficulty for the  caladium however is that the squirrels have been trying to discover what is in the pots. Fortunately caladium must not taste good.

Old Tired Dirt - I heard this expression this winter. I really like it. The writer was explaining that after a winter inside, house plants, when they go outside (or not I guess), need a bunch of new dirt. The old dirt was just worn out. When you think about it probably any nutrients in the dirt itself would be long gone by the end of the winter. You could fertilize. That certainly helps. If the plant can take it why not just give it mostly new dirt? I have all these amaryllis bulbs. Some are big enough to bloom. Some are not. Some will bloom now, as I kept them dormant all winter. I knocked all the tired old dirt out for some of them and gave them all-new dirt. Look at them now, one week later.

I am going to look at other plants, such as the hibiscus and crotons and think about a dirt transplant. That is just what I need. Something else to do.

Daffodils in Maine- Our daughter Katie moved to Portland, Maine last year.

She sent me this picture from May 21, showing the daffodils  blooming around her yard. In May. Wow. I often thought it would be fun to travel around the country following Spring. I guess you might end up in Maine.

A New Tree- Japanese maple trees seem to be everywhere. In the fall they can be brilliant. Last September Julia gave me a tree for my birthday. The tricky part was that I was to find the one I wanted this spring. Do you know how many varieties of Japanese maple trees there are? That is not a trick question. There are a lot. You can also spend a lot of money on a tree that might survive a cold windy winter. One local nursery had a very nice tree for $400. I guess I am not used to looking at plants for the garden that cost in 3 digits. (I will confess that one time I got a daylily that was close to 3 digits. I was younger then.) Once you sort of decide what you would like, you have to think about where you would put the tree. I got a nice little tree, with the feathery leaves, from one of the box stores. It is now by the pond.

Those are allium purple balls behind the tree. They are almost as tall as the tree. I can give the big allium a solid endorsement, in the coming back every year category.

Ducks are back- but the fish seem OK. I mentioned the feeder fish that I obtained several weeks ago. The ducks, and I do mean a pair of ducks, did come back. I have chased them away several times. The fish seem to have good survival instincts, and seem ok. They actually are quite fast. The ducks do not seem very destructive of the waterlilies. That would be the raccoons in August.

Here is the pond now, as the waterlilies are growing. I am starting to watch for buds.

These are hardy waterlilies. They are in pots.They stay out all winter. There are no weeds. At one point I got some commercial pole thing that you can use to fertilize the pots. I do not think I ever used it. You had to try to find the pots in August and put the fertilizer plug in with the pole.

Celebration of lupines
The lupines have been wonderful this week.

This white lupine must have been 3 foot tall.
It managed to stay upright even with the rain.

The garden is starting to get busy. If you don't look at every corner of the garden each day you will miss something. Here is a sometimes overlooked spring annual - violas. The flowers are simply amusing. You cannot say that about many plants. When I saw them at the garden center they had to come home with me.

Here are a few other pictures from the week.

The Siberian Iris are peaking. This white variety is perhaps my favorite.

This lovely blue Siberian Iris  is such a contrast with the large white one.

The Iceland poppies have begun. These flowers share the billing of most photogenic with the waterlilies, and they come in more colors. I hope with the rain we just had the number of flowers will peak.

This is the first Asiatic Lily to bloom.

Ah, the Oriental poppy. Such mystery. This is the spent flower from Beauty of Livermore, the absolute best deep red poppy. It is also a color that I find hard to capture in a picture. This picture is rather accurate.

That's about it for the past week. The time ahead will only get better. There is one orchid cactus with maybe 40 buds. I just had the neighborhood teenager hang it under the walnut tree where everyone can see it. That is why I have my sky hooks.
Good bye bluebells.
Good bye crocuses.
Hello summer.

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