Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Stock-Taking

We've now pulled back the thick leaf mulch I laid down in my shade garden last fall. Time to see what has survived this very cold winter, what didn't and what might be lurking underneath the soil as of yet.

Right off the bat we can write off the rosemary. It doesn't usually make it through the winter a full zone south of us, but I wrapped it hoping that, if the winter was mild it might accidentally survive. No joy. Dead- dead - dead.

I don't see any sign of the hosta. It's as if there was nothing planted in that spot. It may still come up so my hopes are alive, even if the hosta isn't. Likewise the toadlily is absent, but may peep up later. It's supposed to be hardy to zone 5.

Now, for the things which did survive.

  1. Astilbes, both of them have sent up bright feathers of green;
  2. The burgundy mums, both have new shoots and new green leaves;
  3. Lots of thyme, some is winterbitten where it poked through the mulch, where it was covered it looks (and smells) great.
  4. The Hellebore has sent up shoots;
  5. Elija Blue grass - gave it a haircut :~)
  6. Hen and chicks, five or six in different spots. Don't see my prize red one but they do go underground and come back up, so it may be there.
  7. The lavenders are a little worse for wear but are alive.
  8. The heathers - obviously squeaked through by the skin of their teeth. Half the foliage is dead, but some is still living on all three specimens. These really haven't done a darn thing and I'm not sure why. They are only marginally larger than they were when I planted them last spring.
  9. Creeping Charlie - best looking thing in the garden, trying to crawl over the border fence. Love this little moss.
  10. Deadnettles, not only survived but have spread!
  11. Bearberry or kinnikinic - was covered with red berries, most of which the birds devoured today. It looks in perfect shape.
  12. Coral bells, a little ragged but unbowed.
  13. Mint - sent out two foot runners in all directions.
  14. Tri-colour sage. Hard to say, but it looks alive. The ones at the front of the garden are shriveled, the ones in the far end less so.

I cut back a lot of dead twigs and branches, pulled some remnants (like the flowering kale) and in general tidied up. Must get the remaining piles of leaves bagged, another three or four bagfuls, and start turning my planters into self-watering containers along the "Earthtainer" principle. I also want to get a Japanese tomato ring set up and in action, in preparation for "Garden Day".

I talked to our neighbour Jerry about using the area behind his trailer for containers, which he said he didn't mind, as long as he can still mow. My only concern with using that space is that it's on a corner, adjacent to the tenting area. In the summer 100+ people a day, including many kids, walk past that area, and while most are respectful, I've been around long enough to know that a few can wreck a season's work. So, I am somewhat conflicted about planting there, but perhaps the less showy vegetables would be fine, the lettuces, Chinese greens, bush beans, squash, herbs, etc. while reserving closer spots for the tomatoes, melons, pole beans, etc.

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