Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The End of Winter?

Daffodils emerging along the east side of my house, along with some amazingly evergreen foliage.

Last weekend we enjoyed some pretty nice weather here in Iowa: upper 50s, sunny and actually not windy! (At least, not on Saturday -- Friday was warm, sunny and buffeted by gale-force winds. Literally, gale-force at 40-50 mph.... But the warm wind just helps dry out the melting snow and warm up the soil, so it's OK, unless you have to be out in it.) This is certainly not typical weather for February, even late February.

I spent some time outside enjoying the sunny warmth. And, although it felt crazy, I actually even did a bit of light gardening: I cut back last year's foliage and lightly raked two of my flower beds next to the house where I have my earliest bulbs planted.


Doesn't look like much yet, but a few bulbs can be seen popping up in this south-facing, well-drained border. Soon.... (And painting our house is definitely on the list of expenses for this year.)


I would normally resist doing anything before mid-March, as it can be imprudent to uncover too much too early, but this winter has been so mild compared to most. Plus, the forecast for the next ten days shows no cold snaps or snow, taking us into March. The ground is hardly frozen, except for on the north side of buildings. I think we're going to have an early spring this year.

Green foliage! Sweet Williams and dianthus, plus a few snapdragons that are still green at the base. Very unusual for Iowa.


I even wintersowed a few sweet peas next to the house. I still want to start some sweet peas inside too, to see which ones bloom first, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Sweet pea seeds under cover. I saved the seeds from last year, so we'll see how they do.


But the majority of my gardening is still being done inside. An impressively large amaryllis bulb that I received from my mother-in-law for Christmas is starting to flower (unlike the cheaper, smaller bulb I bought at Walmart back in November, that still has only foliage....).

The amaryllis just starting to bloom, together with a leftover poinsettia that hasn't succumbed yet, an azalea I got for myself for Valentine's day, the last few paperwhite narcissus I have been starting at intervals since October, together with various house plants, including Artimisia coralberry, Arabica coffee plant, Calathea and Kalanchoe.

I'm starting to think about what I want to do in my gardens this year, and I'm still planning the enclosing of our front porch to make a sunroom so I can enjoy more plants indoors next winter. And I've been working again on my Iowa garden history book a lot this month, after ignoring that project since fall. I have plenty to keep me occupied until spring garden work claims my attention.

March is only a few days away and spring will be here before we know it. This has been a strangely easy winter -- I don't know if that's entirely due to the milder weather and still having a few encouraging green spots outside, or whether growing more plants indoors has been the major help. At any rate, it won't be long now until we're enjoying blue skies, warm sun, green grass and flowers bursting into bloom everywhere!

Hope you're enjoying a warm, early transition to spring where you live too. Thanks for reading! -Beth

13 comments:

  1. The court can begin the spring, but the house is already beautiful. Many flowers blooming. Regards.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Giga. Best Regards, Beth

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  2. If your daffodils are coming up in Iowa, that has to mean ours in MN will soon be following! Yay!
    It is always so fun to do that first gardening of the year. :)

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, Yes, the first work rarely feels like work -- just spending time outside on a lovely day, getting a head start doing things you really want to do. I hope your spring is just around the corner! -Beth

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  3. Your houseplants are beautiful, as always! I just started Sweet Peas also, but I've never had much luck with them. I think we get too hot, too soon. Well, I love an experiment! Take care..Janice

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    1. Janice, I've read that people in the south should start sweet peas in autumn -- they're cool season flowers, so they'd probably bloom all winter for you, and I'm sure the summer is way too hot for them in Florida. I read a good book last year called "Cool Flowers" that talks about growing cool season annuals in various parts of the country -- you might want to take a look at it. I hope you have good luck starting some. Thanks for stopping by! -Beth

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  4. Looks great there...you will ready to get out soon, I can tell. Here it is still cold, chilly and now flooded with some snow still. I expect maybe in a few weeks if we get some dry weather I can get started.

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    1. I'm sorry it's still so cold in NY, Donna. I hope it warms up soon so you can enjoy some time outside puttering in the gardens. Thanks for stopping by! Regards, -Beth

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  5. Still changeable weather here depending on the direction of the wind and other climatic factors in these British Isles. However, it has been a relatively mild winter. There's no reason to do any outside gardening yet. Seedlings are indoors. I haven't been to the garden nursery this season to see what's available. The indoor plants are thriving and I was pleased to see that one of the pink hyacinth bulbs had several shoots and has now flowered again. Just like you little pleasures such as these help those who love gardening and flowers get through the winter months.

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  6. It's always exciting to see those first few signs of spring! I have a self-seeded snapdragon that's still green, too. They're pretty tough plants. :o)

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  7. How lovely to see a few signs of spring Beth! It's amazing that it is March already! Your indoor plants look so lovely as do your beautifully tidied beds outside. I'm sure your garden is going to be just gorgeous this spring and I shall love seeing all those spring flowers that we struggle to grow here.
    - Kate xx

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  8. Very beautiful plants, inside and outside ! It's interesting to read about gardening in different climate. Here in Northern Germany I can start sweet peas in April. Sometimes we have night frost until May.

    Greetings from Birgit

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  9. It's crazy how much warm weather we've had this winter! I think we'll have an early spring, too, though we've had cold snaps on and off. Actually I think we'll have an early spring and then probably a late April/early May blizzard right after I jump the gun and start putting plants out :)

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