Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Thermometer Has Fainted!

For the first time since … well, I am so old I don't last remember when it was +9 C (48 F ) outside, and it's forecast to be 17 C (62 F) tomorrow, though I have lived in Calgary long enough to know that weather forecasters here are given to hopeless flights of fancy when their brains begin to thaw out after four months of -35 plus (or rather minus) 20 degrees of wind chill. 

But like any Calgarian the slightest sign of Spring thaw is enough to send me reeling to the bookshelves for my stack of gardening books, and to have me feverishly checking what kind of plants will grow here, beyond the ones I have planted (which have surely succumbed to the God-arful winter we've just had). Ah, and a gardener's lot 'tis a hard one here.

Tulips do well, but all winter I've seen ominous little tracks in and out of the snowpiles over my garden beds, and I'm not including the size 11 clodhoppers of the e-jit who lives down the way on the first floor and is too dumb to find his hallway door, but who tramps out his patio door, across the frozen lawn and through my carefully tended flower beds to the sidewalk. Goodbye ferns, hostas, and coral bells because I'm sure the lout has smushed yer roots to moosh. He kicked the fence aside every time I put it back up. I weeps.  

But back to the dainty claws of the squirrel that I suspect has been raiding my bulb larder all winter. It's probably one of the reasons I'm getting fewer, and not more, tulips each spring, when they should be multiplying like mice in a grain bin.

But the thing that springs most vigorously anew each spring in the heart of the gardener is hope, and with it new gardening plans. I won't deny I've had some problems the last couple of years. Aside from the stinkos who can't be bothered to walk around, rather than through the flower bed, I lost half my plants the first year to drought. Worse, the landscape company hires kids who don't know a weed from a flower. I fell last July just as things began to bloom, and could not be out in the garden to supervise. So if it had a flower on it they left it. If it wasn't flowering they pulled it. Which means the yellow alfalfa and Russian thistle were left to get six feet tall and they pulled the day lilies and the thymes, the Oriental poppies and the blue catmint the minute they quit flowering. 

I keep wandering off track, what I'm really trying to tell you what my plans are for this year. The building's main entry is in an inside corner which faces northeast. It gets ferocious morning sun for three hours, sun that would peel an egg. The rest of the day it is in stygian gloom. The right side won't even grow grass, it has just a thin slick of green moss, the slimy-looking stuff that grows on the bottom of old wooden buckets and under your grandma's porch.
The sidewalk was formerly flanked at that point by seven foot high shrubs of an indeterminate variety which hung over the sidewalk by three feet and dripped black aphid snot all summer. Last spring we dug them out and I replaced them with some beautiful sages and a Midnight Lady Ligularia. All in all I had a decent showing of flowers in the beds, and a magnificent showing of weeds.

This year I have decided to tackle the beds themselves. I'm going to add a row of barberry shrubs at the back of the bed which is being used as a walkway. Barberries have a beautiful burgundy leaf which will tie in nicely with the burgundy leaves of the flowering plum tree nearby, but they also have inch-long thorns and not easily traversed. Specifically I want to plant either Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’ or  Berberis thunbergil 'Cherry Bomb' because both get about four feet high and have a lovely fountain shape, as opposed to the ground-hugging varieties which only get about two feet high. The bigger and thornier the better.

But the beds are where I want to make the biggest changes. Once all my perennials have emerged I want to place landscape cloth down and cover the beds in mulch and rock. I want to place larger stones along the edges and an occasional larger grouping in the beds themselves where I can tuck in some alpine plants. And that right back corner? I'm still thinking about what to do with that, but from the nearest downspout, I'd like to run a dry stream bed into the flower beds.

Big plans, now I just need to twist some board member's arms for the money and hired labour to do all of it. :) 

1 comment:

SMM said...

Get that arm twisting started. I love that at this stage in your life you have the largest garden ever and help to do it.

Me..just crying because the British TV series Silk ended forever this evening.