Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Vagaries of March

The zephyr breezes of spring that caressed our gardens last week are gone; in their place we have rain and cold. Those cannas I resurrected out of their winter peat storage and potted up? Back into the garage. The multiple flats of pansies? Awaiting warmer temps. I did plant some of them, and will watch the nighttime forecasts. Pansies are cold-tolerant down to about 22 degrees. They may lay over, or look wilted after a night of such cold, but they'll spring back. I'm ready with the Reemay or a flowerpot, though, if the weatherman predicts colder than that.

In the meantime, I'm raking the lawn, pruning the roses, piling the compost high. I'm sharpening the tools, filling patio pots halfway with done compost, and scraping the driveway debris. It's all satisfying work, even if the sun doesn't shine. Soon enough the warmth of April will bring the daffodils and I'll need a truckload of Sweet Peet in my driveway.

In the meantime, the birds think it's spring. They've been checking out the newly-cleaned birdhouses and sounding a serenade. Once it's a little warmer, I'll be singing, too.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Late-Winter Chores

I do think it's coming. Spring, that is. The equinox is approaching, the ground is thawing, and the garden work beckons. In between the raindrops, I've been out in the Front Walk Garden, chopping down the ornamental grasses, and the Patio Garden, cutting the sedum stalks. I've deer-repelled, leaf-lifted and cut forsythia for forcing. I've eyeballed pruning needs and spent a moment in the gazebo. I've offered my garden for the June 5th Garden Tour.

The compost pile, swollen with offerings, is huge and ripe. The new pile, started with Christmas paper, beer cartons and cardboard, is layered with garden gleanings, sawdust and treasure from the old pile. What a delight to pitchfork last year's compost and see how it's turning into riches! The earthy smell, the magic of turning nothing into something. Is there anything better than composting?

Ah, but other chores call. The high winds and rain of the past few days have left white pine cones scattered on the grass. I need to pull out the snowplow driveway markers. I need to find my tools, straighten the shed and assess the vole damage. I need to lay in my supplies of Milorganite and Holly-tone and potting soil. (Agway, here I come!)

I try to spend at least an hour outdoors these fine cool days. To breathe the air, hear the birds sing, and watch Mother Nature work her alchemy on the earth.

What about you?

Saturday, March 6, 2010


As I write this, the temperature is 42.6 and heading up. Maybe it'll reach 50 today, which will be the highest temp since what, last November? Snow piles abound, and the ground is still frozen, so not much can be done in the garden.

But.....I can scatter fertilizer, especially under the broadleaf evergreens. I can cut some witch hazel for display and forsythia for forcing. I can mix up and apply deer repellent. I can pick up sticks & pinecones. I can do a little organizing in the shed.

I believe this qualifies as the initial workday of spring '10. According to my garden diaries, this breakthrough generally occurs in the first week of March, and the chores are about the same, year to year.

Sure feels good.