Archive Page 2

26
Feb
09

Signs of Spring

Unlike last year we had a bit of real winter in the past weeks: some heavy frosts and even enough snow for the children to build snowmen and take their sleighs out.
When I look into the garden I find everything about four weeks backward compared to last year. The snowdrops have just started, some crocusses are showing a little colour, but that’s it so far. — Oh I’ve forgotten about the witch hazel and the cyclamen, but the’ve been blooming since January, and the cyclamen actually since Christmas.
Even if there is not much colour in my garden yet, I’m strongly convinced that spring is coming. First of all the fieldfares, which only show up in winter, seem to have left for their nesting places further north or east. Only after devouring every single berry and rosehip that still remained in the garden. And yesterday I heard the first cranes, which have come back from the south. Most of them only rest here until they travel further up north, but until they do so they make a lot of noise.

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01
Jul
08

The Plights of Gardening

Fortunately we have had some rain last week so there is some fun in doing gardening work again. I don’t know how you get on in dry areas such as Texas or California, but I found that this drought we had from May to mid-June started getting on my nerves. Seeing lots of plants wither away, looking on a burned lawn already in May, trying to keep alive the strawberries and vegetables (who have remained in a bonsai state nevertheless), trying to save weakened plants from massive aphid attacks — all this was not very enjoyable. Therefore I didn’t feel like writing at all because who would like to read about the feelings of a depressed garden enthusiast?

For the roses, however, the weather has been perfect. The warmth has made them blossom early and with their deep roots they were not as dependent on regular watering as those plants with more shallow ones.

So almost to the end of June there was a fireworks of roses in my garden now only subdued by the recent rain that has caused quite a few blossoms to wilt. However, fresh raindrops on rose blossoms, is there anything more elegant than this?

Also, the rapeseed bug, a tiny black beetle usually feeding on rape blossoms, and a pest that has become resistant to almost all insecticides is bothering us again. However, it is not as bad as last year and the year before when you couldn’t go out wearing anything coloured white or yellow unless you wanted to be covered with little black bugs right way.

So for some reason there are never perfect conditions for gardening. It is either too cold or too hot, too dry or too wet, there are fungi or bugs or deer trying to live off your favourite plants — and still they always manage to come back up again. There is always something growing, flowering, flourishing, which is quite a miracle when you think what obstacles they are facing all the time.

07
Jun
08

Front Yard Impressions

Lush, luxuriant, brilliant — words like these popped up in my head when I walked through my front garden last week. The irisses and lupines in full bloom, the whole area seemed to be overflowing with colour, which was enhanced by those bright pink sweet williams.

That old tree trunk comes from my parents’ garden and used to be part of a huge cedar tree. The ivy came with it, two, and it will probably have overgrown everything within the next two years. I often use this tree trunk as a bench — lying on the east side of the house it’s a great spot for an early cup of tea on a mild sunny morning.

Helianthemum and salvia grow in abundant bushels directly at the curb. Being so close to the tarmac this is one of the hottest and driest areas in the garden which only heat and drought resistant plants survive. This is particularly true for this year, as spring has been unusually dry with less than two inches of rain since mid-April. Ironically the rest of the republic has almost been drowned in the past weeks, heavy thunderstorms and rains causing flooding in the south and west of Germany. Only the areas close to the Baltic Sea didn’t get any rain. Often we could see the clouds building up but drifting away again before any water came out.

The white string you can see at the top of this picture is part of an electric fence that we use to keep the deer out. For some reason they don’t come in through the back garden but simply walk down the road and cause havoc among the flowers. So while the fence doesn’t look too decorative, this is much better than having a herd of deer trampling on everything, munching away the roses.

Since I had a rather stupid accident in the kitchen last Tuesday, cutting my leg severely on a broken glass lid, I forgot to water the garden. As a result, all the plants suffered severely. The lilies and lupines haven’t wilted, they have simply dried up. So what you see on those pictures above is already a thing of the past. Now I’m waiting for the hemerocallis, the roses and the peonies to do their bit, hopefully supported by some rain within the next week.

15
May
08

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May

Carol of May Dream’s Garden, who is responsible for this Bloomday hype, says that May is her favourite month. And who am I to dispute this: May is the month of Spring Explosion when nature seems to have laid the fulfillment of all her promises into a few weeks presenting a firework of scents and colours.

As there is so much, I could show off, starting with the last Tulips and ending with the tree paeony that has managed to hold one last spectacular flower through the late frost we had around easter, I would be able to come up with dozens of bright colourful photos, one bloom being more impressive than the other. So as not to kill you with sheer numbers, I thought it would be best to limit myself to some rather delicate plants of a less prominent nature: aquilegias. They count among my favourite flowers, first of all because of their decorative leaves. Even if they are not blooming, the leaves give the impression of round soft cushions spread out in all those corners that deliberate design hasn’t reached yet. This leads to their next asset: they self-seed so easily and thus fill dreary spots in a rather elegant way. Not minding the shade, they lighten up dark corners without pushing themselves too much into the foreground. Also, they keep well in vases making great partners for huge blooms such as roses or paeonies.

Aquilegias come in all sorts of colours, blue and pink being the most common ones. Unfortunately I’m not very good with botanical names, however, as most of my plants are bastards, there wouldn’t be any name for them anyway. These here are very close to the wild varieties growing up to a metre in height. I try not to let those self-seed too much because otherwise they would take over the garden in the end.
Lately I have bought some miniature varieties of mixed colours, some with huge, others with rather delicate blossoms. Those I let seed themselves as they like, rejoicing when the odd plant turns up between the patio stones or in other unusual places. Even though they are hybrids, their offspring tends to keep the colours and even the shape.

The most delicate variety I’ve come across is this one with its tiny blossoms that look like fancy skirts. They belong to my surprise flowers as they have grown from a seed packet with a colourful mixture of wild flowers. (I almost wouldn’t have bought the packet because it said there were aquilegia seeds in it and I expected them to be like the ones I already had.)
28
Apr
08

Surprise Pods

Admittedly, I’m not a very organised person. In my job I’m doing alright. So far all my students have got their essays back they handed in to me; the registers are diligently kept, my teaching resources are filed intelligently and most of the time even my desk is well-organized.
In private, however, I’m rather lax, particularly when it comes to my gardening stuff. Tools are often left in the places where I used them last (and intend to use them the next day). Usually this is no problem: so far I haven’t lost anything although sometimes I have to search a little longer for a hoe or my trowels. Even if they get rusty because of being left in the rain, there is still my husband who patiently does them up again so that they look even better than before.
Yet when it comes to seeds, I wish I was more diligent. The satchets of bought seeds I stuff into a box, so there is no problem finding them when I need them. But the self-collected ones tend to float around. I do manage to fill some into little boxes or glasses and even write their names on them (old vitamin or pill glasses are quite good for that), but there always remain some that I left out to dry — and then forgot. Sometimes I do remember what they were, but more often than not I don’t. Or I’m quite certain that I took seeds off the spider flowers last year — but can’t find them, possibly because I left the pods lying around until someone thought they were rubbish and put them on the compost. Also, there may be some neat surprises when you do find some forgotten seeds.
Having found those sweet pea pods the other day, I asked our little one to peel out the seeds — only to be alarmed by a shrill yell a moment later: “Mummi, there is something in them!” And so there was: almost every seed had become home to a little bug who was sticking out its feelers, giving the seeds some sort of alien touch.
So what do we learn from this? — Check your seeds regularly to find infestations in time. (This is something I tell myself every season.)
15
Apr
08

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day April

Even though it’s almost midnight, I don’t want to be late again for Carol’s Garden Blogger’s Bloomday, particularly because Spring Explosion has almost started. The flowers are only waiting for a few really mild days to show their full beauty, but even what they come up with in this rather cool sunny April weather lets the heart leap. Right now I don’t find the time to work as much in the garden as I would like to; however, I always go my round welcoming every new flower that raises its head — driving my dog mad because she’d rather play or go for a walk with me.

No, I’m not going to rant on about those slugs who have finished off my complete scillas, lots of the daffodils and ruined most of my miniature tulips. I’ll simply show you some that have survived and shine brightly on all visitors who enter the garden.

The first cherry blossoms are starting to open. This is actually a surprise tree because it is a sapling that grew from the roots of my parents’ morella cherries, and which I planted among all the other wild shrubs at the end of my garden. So if it ever carries fruit it probably won’t be morellas.

The Pulsatillas are some of my favourite spring flowers. Unfortunately the wild tulips between them are already gone. I’ve also got a corner with the blue variety, however they haven’t started blooming yet. They love light sandy soil, and when the conditions are right, they self-seed quite easily.

Aside from the white forest variety, I haven’t been too lucky with anemones, although I adore them. They simply seem to vanish after some time. Well, it’s no wonder, if you plant heucheras on top of them in the autumn because you have forgotten that there have ever been some there before like this anemone blanda that keeps on fighting its way up. (Carol, was it you, who went on about having ‘senior moments’ the other day? This was certainly one of mine!)

17
Mar
08

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day March

It’s been Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day again, so it’s high time for me to come up with my post.
The weather having been unusually mild so far, spring has taken hold of the garden. Compared to other years, plants and flowers are about one month ahead. When I look down into the village where they are not so exposed to the cold winds as we on our hill, they are even two more weeks ahead from us, with tulips and daffodils being in full bloom.
helleborus08.jpgThose of you who have already visited, must have noticed that I’m very fond of hellebores. One reason is that they still look very decorative after blooming. With other flowers blossoms fade, making them look sad and forlorn, but look at what has happened to this helleborus niger: blushing all over the place! Later on the dark green foliage will cover everything up, and thus make a great background for the rose growing in front of it.
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The crocuses are almost gone now. I’ve cheated a little: these pictures were taken a week ago, but I simply had to take them in because at the weekend there was not enough sun for the petals to open. These light blue ones are my favourite. My dream is having them spread all over the garden one day. However, they are difficult to find in garden centers because most people seem to prefer the bigger varieties. So I’ll have to propagate them myself. If there is something you learn when you have a garden, it’s patience ….
Most of my daffodils are still trying to grow fast enough to get past the slugs (I have mentioned them already this year, haven’t I?), only the little tete-a-tetes are blooming so far, presenting little bushels of yellow under trees and shrubs. For some reason they only grow half the height from those potted ones you can buy everywhere right now. Maybe it’s because the bulbs are deeper in the earth than they are in a pot — so it’s probably just an optical illusion.leberblumchen08.jpgFinally some more blue, my favourite colour. The hepaticum still looks somewhat forlorn under the gooseberry shrub, but I’m looking forward to it spreading out in the next years. The violets are doing their best right now, pushing up innumerable blossoms, and thus creating the image of little soft cushions. They are ordinary, but very pretty, wild flowers, that you can see everywhere in the woods right now. I’ve got two more varieties in my garden, however, they bloom later in the year. One with dark leaves and light blue blossoms and the other one with white blossoms.

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