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April 30, 2005

Got my roses last evening.

Figures the temps are supposed to be in the upper thirties at night all week. I was savvy enough to go for two instead of one of the same rose, so I think we may put one in the ground tomorrow and stash the other one somewhere I can put it in the sun during the day, then plant it next weekend.

Got them from Antique Rose Emporium, in Austin. I have to say this -- they were packed for shipping very professionally, and they look great. If they don't thrive, I guess I'll have to blame the weather and try again next year -- I certainly can't blame the retailer for the fact that it's damned near May and the temps are still in the upper thirties at night. The plants are supposed to be hardy to Zone 5, though, and I'm in Zone 6 -- maybe they'll do okay. Cecile Brunners are supposed to be very hardy. We'll see if they're hardy enough to make the trip up from Austin in four days and handle a wack-ass Ohio "spring" by planting one tomorrow, I suppose.

Here are the Cecile Brunners:




I'm really gambling, here -- I want to know if putting them out into cold nights is harder than keeping them in the house too long, and I'll consider it experimentation. Marginally expensive experimentation, I admit ... but I don't have a choice, since the weather decided to go all punky here this week. I thought having them shipped to arrive around May 1 was safe. Proves having Bob Taft (upper-class twit of the week) as governor ain't the only thing that sucks about Ohio, I guess.

Here are the other starts -- progress report, I guess. They haven't totally croaked, and actually the things I expected to croak before planting time are doing better than the easy stuff. The pinks all got some fungus and croaked, and the lobelias seem to have bought the farm, as well. Some of the basil seems okay, and the myosotis (forget-me-nots) and most of the peppers -- including the ones we harvested seeds from last year -- are doing quite well:





I don't know -- I need to start hardening those again, now that the daytime temps are back above fifty, I guess. It's been kind of windy, though, during the day -- I don't want to screw them all up completely right off the bat. I may try planting some of the myosotis tomorrow, since I have so many of them and they have had at least some exposure outdoors. Worst case scenario, some of them die -- I have something like eight or ten of them that seem to be doing well enough. I can put one or two out tomorrow, then if they croak I can wait a while. Worst comes to worse, I can just order some from Spring Hill or Burpee, I guess. I want some, they smell great. I don't know how 'worth it' going through all the crap to start them indoors is, though.

The bluebonnets died, all but one. I guess they can tell what I think of Texas and what it's given the country in recent years. Ah, well -- guess that's what plants get for listening when we talk to them.

Posted by Melinda at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

Bleh -- supposed to freeze overnight

and snow two or three inches. It's the last week of April, it's been above 40 even at night for about two weeks -- everything's in almost full leaf/bloom. Hell, the daffodils and the muscaria are already bloomed out and the tulips are at full maturity! So naturally it's going down below 30 degrees tonight and a couple of inches of snow.

It's springtime in Ohio, none of it surprises me.

The only really odd thing, for that matter, is the sustained warm weather and above freezeing temps we've had since the second week of April. Funny (and I don't mean funny ha-ha) that the Bush Junta claims ecologists who say the climate actually is changing (probably at least in part attributable to humans' injudicious use of fossil fuels, changing the near-earth atmosphere) are wrong, but almost every web site I visited -- and I visited several different kinds of gardening sites, including one for a fruit orchard -- states as if it were accepted fact that spring arrives earlier now than it used to in many places, and the likelihood of loss from late frosts because of earlier spring is greater now than it used to be. The gardeners and orchard managers and farmers know this is true -- it stares hobby gardeners like me in the face every time we have to run out with sheets and trellises to try to protect already leafed-out plants from frosts that used to be seasonal on these dates -- but the BJ crew says that's fuzzy science.

It's fuzzy reality, apparently. Hell, like I think anybody in the big BJ up there in Washington has actually been arsed to garden any time in their pampered lives. I'm sure their families could afford to hire gardeners to handle all that inconvenient dirt anyway. Dirt is too real for folks like that, I'd wager. The Queen of England probably sees more of the weather than they do.

Anyhow, since the cold tonight likely will destroy all my tulips, I went out and cut several of them to bring in. They're really pretty -- deep maroon, almost purple. I think they were called 'black' tulips, and they're roughly the same color as the last ones I had that died when I tried to relocate them. These should be okay where they are, all of them, so I won't have to go through that crap again.

Anyway, I took some pictures of the tulips I cut, and I grabbed a couple of the blooms off the mockorange viburnum in the side yard just for kicks. We trimmed it back about a month ago, so there aren't as many blooms as there usually are by now -- but I'll sacrifice a few blooms to stave off the threats of the neighbor who hates anything that grows if it gets past the fence between our yards. I don't need to hear it.

Here they are:





And, of course, none of this would have been possible without the invaluable assistance of at least one of the staff:


That's Squeek. You can pretty much count on her to get right up your ass in the middle of anything you're doing that would better be done without her 'assistance.' Gord had been by earlier, but he'd determined that none of the flowers were food and bailed out. It isn't worth getting poked and shoved out of the way if it isn't for food, as far as he's concerned. Tink had helped me upstairs, while I was trimming them down to put in the vase -- like Gord, she was convinced they were food. Not knowing if tulips are poisonous to cats (most varieties of lilies and hyacinths, including the muscaria, are), I sprinkled water on her until she stopped trying to claw her way through my wrist to get at the leaves.

The dog, Max, and Doodle were, blessedly, absent from this project. It's not that they're any better or worse about it than the rest, it's just that the dog tends to want to get in my face when I have the camera, and Doodle trails a thin stream of chaos in her wake wherever she goes, whether she means to or not.

We've set up some 'hardware' to attempt to cover a couple of the plants outside for the night -- the new weeping pussy willow, which has finally leafed out this week, and the Atlas cedar, which has been looking more and more like it's recovering from whatever was bugging it over the winter -- there are green buds on most of the branches, and new needles growing. Figures we'd get a cold snap and some snow, I'm sure that's exactly what it needs (/sarcasm).

Feh -- at least my rosebushes and flowering almonds weren't scheduled to ship until Friday (yesterday). By the time they get here, it'll be sixty degrees again and hopefully I can get them in the ground next weekend.

This should be the last of the shitty weather for the year, so they ought to do okay once they go in. I don't know, though -- I've seen cold snaps exactly like this one as late as Mother's Day before. I put nothing past the weather in Ohio. It's about as realiable as one of Iacocca's little wonders from the late seventies. In fact, it reminds me very much of my '78 Plymouth Debacle, thanks very much.

Posted by Melinda at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

Moving right along.

Went out of town last weekend, but still had a few hours' daylight Sunday, after we got back, to do some minor chores. Trimming, mostly, since it's still really too early to harden and plant most of the stuff I still have living in the laundry room (I estimate I lost a third of the plants, between them getting mildewed and some not thriving once I put them into the peat pots, for whatever reason).

Tony spread some topsoil and dropped some grass seed in the parts of the front yard that haven't had grass on them since we bought the house, essentially. Don't know as it'll take this time, either, but I guess it's worth a shot.

I trimmed up the weeping pussy willow, just took off the obviously dead stuff. It's dropping the catkins already and getting leaves on it -- now, I guess, we'll get a better idea of what it's going to look like most of the year. It's still lashed to an old coat stand we had that lost one of its legs and wouldn't stand up anymore. Tony just removed the opposite leg, left the other two on it and jammed it down into the ground beside the root ball. I took off any branches that obviously were dead -- since the living ones have started budding leaves, it's pretty easy to pick out the deadwood. It looks pretty good, with that done.

Let me tell you -- the first four inches of the dig were the worst. It doesn't matter where in the front yard you dig, frankly. There were three silver maples out there in a triangle, none of the three sides of which was longer than perhaps twenty feet. Silver maples top-root like crazy, too. That whole part of the yard is a carpet of interwoven maple roots with a thin skin of soil and some pathetic grass stretched over the top. We'll probably have to either resod or have topsoil hauled in to make any difference in it. At least if we did it, now, it would be worthwhile -- it would get rain and sun, now.

The Atlas cedar seems to have some little nubs of new growth here and there. I hope that means whatever I did (or the weather did, or the tree guys did) to it, it's going to snap out of it.

Trimmed the big red rosebush out front. There's a lot of new root growth on it, though some of the canes I didn't cut off completely also look like they have a good bit of growth on them, too. I snipped off all the 'dead ends' on it, the canes that obviously were dead and not going to produce this season. I probably could cut it back a lot more after this growing season, though in truth I think it's a climbing rose and probably wouldn't appreciate being scorched-earth pruned every winter.

Also snipped off several big (relatively -- it's actually a smallish thing) dead branches on the corkscrew hazelnut. I'm seeing root sprouts as far as six or eight inches out from the main graft, now. Not sure what that means -- it may mean the poor thing took some serious impacts when the monkeys took down the maples, back in the winter, and though there are leaves on the rest of it, the shock may have jarred the rootstock (which would be regular, run-of-the-mill local hazelnut, I presume) into shooting up a few suckers at a distance. Still, it looks all right.

The blue boy and blue girl hollies look a little ... well, beige. I don't know what happened to them, either. They don't look terrible, just not as good as they could. I'm guessing the shrub fertilizer I put on them last winter wasn't good for them. I kind of wonder if that wasn't what got to the Atlas cedar, as well.

My bulb bed on the back slope has bloomed. The rabbits are hell on it, though -- those indigo-colored hyacinth flowers must taste really good, since they eat the shit out of them every stinkin' year. There are also several daffodils back there that I briefly considered taking out, but then I took the same tack with them that I have with lots of stuff here -- if they're healthy and I don't want to put anything else there, heck widdit, let 'em stay. They're not costing me anything.

The weeping cherry out front, of course, bloomed full the day before the only rain we've had here in two weeks. By the next morning, all the petals were on the ground. C'est la vie, I guess -- it's kind of a fragile looking plant to start with, it's what I found most appealing about it. The leaves, when they come, are pretty too -- I just wish the branching on it was a little denser. It's been there five years and hasn't grown much. Maybe having full sunlight most of the day will kick it in the ass, too.

The stub of the flowering almond that the tree guys mangled practically down to the ground has a couple of tiny sprouts on it. That's where I want to put one of the Cecile Brunners, when they come, so I'm going to have to do something with it. I suggested to Tony maybe we ought to dig it up and sock it in the ground on the slope out back. If it lives, it does -- if not, oh well.

I should get the other flowering almonds soon, here -- I had to call and correct my credit card number with Spring Hill (talk about a curt, almost rude CSR, especially since all I was doing was making sure she could get her money!), so it may have delayed the shipping of that part of the order. They also may have a 'ship to Zone 6' date that's later than I think. Possibly, they don't ship them until after bloom. That means, hopefully, I'll get them in time to plant this weekend.

The tulips I planted last year, both in the front flowerbed and back by the entrance to the animal run, are up and pushing blooms up. Not sure if I really think they'll survive the onslaught of rabbits -- I put some of that nicotine/naphthalene stuff around them over the weekend, though that doesn't always keep the rabbits out. I think they have little tiny rabbit-shaped nose plugs that they use, this time of the year. It's the breaks of living in a neighborhood like ours, I guess. It's perfect habitat for bunnies. I did notice the tulips out by the end of the cat run didn't look as nibbled as the ones out front -- the cats and their smell probably discourage the rabbits. If I could only get Gord to pee on the tulips, they probably wouldn't eat them at all. Of course, cat pee probably wouldn't do the tulips any good, but neither does nature's only non-hoofed ruminant.

Spring Hill did send me the couple of bags of anemone corms that, basically, were free when I ordered the flowering almonds (I had a $25 coupon from the catalog to use, but I had to bump the order up to $50 to make it worthwhile using it). I don't know what to do with them, yet -- these are supposed to do okay in full sun, unlike the older ones I planted here. I think those prefer at least partial shade, they don't do so great once the weather gets good and hot.

Back when something happens.

Posted by Melinda at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2005

Here we go -- now it's on!

Well, the weather is finally breaking, and the temps have been above the freezing mark for at least a week. Good thing, since we bought one of the major living yard ornaments we'd had on the schedule for this year.



It's a weeping pussy willow. I've been thinking about doing this for a couple of years, since the first one I saw in a gardening catalog, but until we took the silver maples out, there wasn't anywhere to put any other high-sun plants. I may as well make the best of it, right?

Also, my three flowering almonds have shipped from Spring Hill, so I should get those via UPS or FedEx sometime later in the week. Presumably, they will come in pots and I can wait until next weekend to drop them in the ground.

We bought the pussy willow last Sunday, actually, at Siebenthaler. They'd just started hauling out their potted small trees for the season last week, we walked in five minutes to close and asked if they had any. They had one. And then they didn't -- it was the exact price I'd said I'd be willing to pay to buy one locally, you see. I could have ordered a smaller, younger one from Spring Hill for about two-thirds what I paid for the one at Siebenthaler, but ... and it's a big 'but' ... I'd have had to pay $25 to have it shipped from some warehouse down around Lawrenceburg, Indiana. That kind of put me off ordering it, you see. I actually got a bigger tree for the same price, this way, since it's an older speciment plant to begin with and shipping consisted of cramming the poor bastard into the RAV4 and driving a couple of miles.

I don't have any pictures of the sprouts, right now, and I'm not too optimistic about their health. It seems some kind of fuzzy mold -- whether from the pots and peat pellets themselves or the laundry room, I don't know -- has been sapping and killing a good many of them. The bluebonnets have all died but one, and it ain't lookin' too good either. I moved all the cayennes out into peat pots, though, and they look okay; the poblano peppers I seeded a couple of weeks late also have sprouted, so hopefully I can at least manage to nurse a few plants of each kind through the next couple of weeks, until I can set up cold frames and harden them to go in the containers.

I'm having a sort of health issue right now, though, and I'm afraid it might wind up with surgery and recuperation time, so this all could be moot anyway. Stay tuned! Until I know more, here's an 'arty shot' of the pussy willow:


Posted by Melinda at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)