Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mid-April: The gardening season begins!

Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.

Greetings! After returning from a wonderful trip with my family to Washington, D.C. and Colonial Williamsburg, I'm back in my gardens, starting to make some of the many changes that I have been planning since last fall. While in D.C. and Virginia, I was able to visit many beautiful gardens:

  • Williamsburg's numerous Colonial-style formal gardens
  • several Smithsonian Museum gardens
  • the iconic cherry blossoms planted around the tidal pool in D.C.
  • the U.S. Botanic Garden's magnificent conservatory
  • the reconstructed gardens of George Washington at Mount Vernon
  • and the stylish gardens designed by Beatrix Farrand at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown. 
I took many photos and got a number of ideas, and have returned inspired to work in my own gardens.

Being away for the first ten days of April, I could really see a difference in my gardens when I returned -- spring had sprung while we were gone! I'll share a few scenes from what's been happening around here in the last couple of weeks in this post, and show some of the areas I'm working on.

One area that has looked good is the early spring bulb border I planted a couple of years ago in front of our house:

Tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinths in the early spring bulb border.

From the other direction, showing the crown imperial fritillaria and basket-of-gold. For some reason my fritillaria are only about two feet tall, when I know they're supposed to be 3-4 feet in height. Does anyone else have this issue?

Fritillaria michailovskyi, a much shorter fritillaria.

Tulips, hyacinths, grape hyacinths and alliums coming up in my front border. I completely re-did this border last year, after problems with invasive (so-called) obedient plant. I'll mostly plant bulbs and annuals here for a while.

There are a number of nice things blooming in other areas of my gardens now, but there are also some areas that don't look so great because I've been digging and transplanting things in them, as well as downsizing several areas.

I'm redoing my east patio garden beds. I plan to make a scented garden area, with mostly plants that smell nice (and hopefully look good too). 

A few days later, after everything has been sprayed and then cleared out of the left two beds. I'll wait a couple of weeks, have my husband spray any weeds that come up once more (we have a real problem with runner grass and creeping charlie in many of our beds that I'm trying to get a handle on -- I'm thinking of installing deep metal edging around the beds to try to keep it out). Then I'll start planting the many scented shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs that I have been planning for this area.

I reduced the length of my Rainbow Border, to make it easier to maintain, and I've been moving the plants around to fill in the space more closely so that weeds have less room to get started.

Another view of the end of the Rainbow Border, showing the removed area. I'll install the edging bricks properly in the next week or two.

I did the same thing with the Yellow Garden, reducing the size to make it easier to care for and planting more densely. The extra stepping stones have since been moved to another area.

Another view of the back (north) side of our house, showing the large area that has been removed and seeding with grass. I'll leave a narrow bed against the house to make mowing easier.

The past two weeks since we returned from our trip has been an orgy of digging and moving plants around for me. It's hard work but it's also very satisfying, because I've been planning these changes since last year and thinking about them all winter, so it's great to finally be able to start doing them. There are still numerous projects I want to do, but I just need to keep working on them little by little before it gets too hot to move plants (or to move myself, for that matter).

Hope you are enjoying a lovely spring and getting a good start on your own gardening projects this year. Thanks for reading!  -Beth


  1. Your flower borders are just beautiful with so much color! Oh how funny... I am leaving to go to D.C. & Williamsburg on Weds!! We are attending a wedding but will be touring the mall and have been accepted to tour the White House. We are staying in Williamsburg for 3 days so won't have that much time there. What were your favorites places? Any recommendations would be appreciated! Hope you share some pictures of the gardens there! Nice to go to places that inspire our own gardens.

    1. Hi Sonia, That is a coincidence! We only spent a couple of days in Williamsburg, but it was so lovely, right at the peak of the flowering trees and bulbs. I thought College of W&M President's garden and parking area was a great display, as were several of the colonial gardens. I hope you have a lovely time! Best, Beth

    2. Oh, and Dumbarton Oaks is an amazing garden in Georgetown, a D.C. neighborhood -- definitely make time to visit it. Happy traveling!

  2. Sounds like you have a busy time ahead of you, with luscious gardens to visit and your own to plant. Fritillaries are amongst my favourites but get eaten bt lily beetles, which are reaching plague proportions here. Mine get munched before they can even think about blooming. I love having new bare earth to fill, I find planning and planting great fun. Glad that you have a big strong man to help with weed control, that makes it even better.

    1. Hi Bodger, thanks for visiting my blog -- I'm sorry to hear about your lily beetle problem. I'm sure it's just a matter of time until we have them here too.... Happy planting in your own gardens! -Beth

  3. Hi Beth, Your spring bulbs are so very colorful! They look great! It sounds like you have lots of ideas for change, and lots of work ahead. It will be so fulfilling when you see the fruits of your labor. Happy Spring!

    1. Hi Beth, Thanks for stopping by -- I hope you are enjoying a lovely spring in your beautiful gardens too! Best, -Beth

  4. Love the flowering cherry tree! Most of fruit trees are in bloom in UK at present and it looks stunning.
    The stage of grow in your garden is similar to the one in UK. Although the daffodil season has passed we have tulips blossoming as well.
    Lovely time of year!

    1. Good to hear from you, Aga -- I'm so glad you are enjoying a lovely flowering time in the UK. Thanks for reading! Best Regards, -Beth

  5. It's a beautiful season with blossom and Spring flowers out in abundance. I like the photo of you by the cherry blossom. I'm sure the gardens you visited were inspiring and gave you many ideas regarding the plans for your own garden spaces this year. Isn't it a delight to come back from a trip and see what has been happening in one's own garden? In March we enjoyed the flowers blooming in Italy a month before they appeared in our UK gardens and neighbourhoods. Now we're enjoying the tulips and the fruit and ornamental tree blossom. Your small fratillaria are beautiful. I do not grow them, but always like to see them in other gardens growing naturally in the long grass. Wishing you all the best with your gardening plans in the coming weeks.

    1. Hi Linda, I'm so glad you are enjoying seeing what's happened in our gardens while you are away -- you're right: it is a delight to be able to do so. Best wishes for a lovely springtime! Thanks for reading, -Beth

  6. Beth, I can see the wonderful progress you've already made, I wish I had your ambition. I think reworking gardens is much more difficult than planting them in the first place, all the plants have to go somewhere the second you dig them out. I can't wait to see how your hard work pays off later on in the season.