But then once it turns warm there is everything to do at once in the flower beds. The foliage from last year has to be clipped off, the leaves that covered the bed all winter have to be raked every so gently off the tender green shoots which are emerging from their sleep. I've certainly been busy the last few days, as much as I can manage anyway.
I've filled several lawn bags full of clippings and dead leaves. I finally got at least 3/4 of the old foliage on the flowers clipped off and most of the leaves raked out of the beds.
I'm leaving the trimming of the shrubs to the landscapers. That's too much for me to tackle. But after I quit today, the guys who were cleaning the gravel from the parking lot came up the walk and haphazardly hit the flower beds and around the bases of the shrubs with their "Nuclear Powered" leaf and gravel blower and generally made a mess of things. There were places where they could have done some good, but they didn't touch those.
|Bergenia - (elephant-eared saxifrage)|
But on the highly positive side, the daffodils, narcissus, jonquils and tulips are blooming, and the Bergenia - (elephant-eared saxifrage) has three nice husky bud spikes, which will open up into buds like these blossoms from last year's display. So there's a nice mix of yellow and white (narcissus, daffs and jonquils) with pink and purple tulips and the deep pink Bergenia.
The apple tree and May Day tree to the left of our balcony are just beginning to bloom. The Japanese plum tree just off our balcony is putting on burgundy leaves, which are almost more beautiful than the blossoms. The colour from the bulbs and tree blossoms won't last long but there are lots of other perennials coming along.
In the bed to the right of the entrance the crocus' have bloomed and gone, and the purple tulips are now blooming. The astilbes are up and six inches tall already. These bloom pink and white and they look airy as clouds when they bloom. The hostas at the front of that bed are sticking out of the ground like pointed green thumbs. The cranesbills hug the ground but have spread about 24" each, which is amazing, considering I only planted them last year.
At the back of that bed the ligularia already has about two dozen saucer-sized leaves, deep-green on their top-sides and purple underneath. I put a large, sturdy tomato cage around it, because it's growing quickly and it won't be long before it needs support. It will produce large sunflower-like flowers on five-foot high stems starting in late June, bringing a bright spot to that shady area. The purple veronica and the sage growing around it are a good foil, in both form and colour.
Up in the sunshine in the front bed the poppies have come up looking a bit prehistoric they re so vigorous. The leaves are already 10-12" tall, very "toothy" and deliciously furry-looking. The Shasta daisies look like green bubbles emerging from the earth, the mints are crawling around in the beds at last three of my roses have survived and are putting on leaves.
It's too early to see what else has survived our winter. We had such bitter cold, at the beginning of winter, then fluctuating warm and bitter with very little snow cover until well into March. Everything is bone dry. I'm afraid to see what I might have lost.
The irrigation system hasn't been turned on, and the ground is cracked open it's so dry. The maintenance man turned on the outside tap for me so I could water and I gave the flower beds and trees within reach of the hose a good watering.
Some I need to prune back some more old foliage and rake off the remaining dead leaves and we're planning on putting in edging around the beds so the grass quits creeping in. But my idea of adding good compost, covering it with landscaping fabric and cutting opening for the plants, then covering it all with bark has worked a treat. I pulled only a couple of clumps of grass today, and not a single weed. Far cry from the years before, when I spent half my time in the garden fighting weeds.
But afterwards I came in, gave the floor a quick vacuum, and took a two hour nap. Boy was I whipped. I probably won't walk tomorrow. But working in the garden is like soul-food to me. I wasn't meant to live where I can't grow things.