Thursday, May 9, 2019

Spring Garden Improvements

Greetings! Hard to believe we're in May now, after waiting for spring for so long -- we've had a few warmer days, but this has been a relatively cool spring overall, and I now understand why our British gardening friends love tulips and spring ephemerals so much -- they are wonderful when they can be enjoyed for more than two days before hot blasts of wind shrivel them up and blow them away!

This English weather is preparing me for the trip to England that my family and I are taking next month -- I'm excited to finally be able to see a few famous gardens like Sissinghurst and Great Dixter that I have read about for so many years. Our 2&1/2-week trip to London, Kent, Bath, Oxford and the Cotswolds won't be all gardens (sadly), as my family wants to see the historical sights too -- but I'll do my best to sneak away to sit in a few local gardens when I get the chance.

But before I leave, I've been working on a few small improvements in my garden areas:

Delphinium Bed

The delphinium bed back in 2016. The nasty runner grass that infested this bed can be spotted. :-(
In the past I had a lovely display of delphiniums that looked great for nearly five years. But the bed was slowly taken over by nasty runner grass that I just couldn't dig out, no matter how many times I tried. I not only had to clear the entire bed itself, but it wasn't until I made the Paradise Garden right behind this bed last year, eliminating the lawn that was the continuing source of the runner grass, that I have been able to get things under control.

I've kept the bed clear for two years now, and finally I judged that it was safe to start a packet of delphinium seeds this spring. But first I had some repair work to do:

We had so much snow this past winter that we had to call a neighbor with a snow plow to clear our driveway several times. He must have backed into the edge of the border and I needed to fix it before I could plant anything here.
With the edging restored to an orderly state, I planted the delphinium seedlings under white metal mesh baskets that I found at the dollar store for $1 apiece. I planted a couple seedlings not under baskets and they went MIA by the next morning.... Grrr. Rabbits!

I also planted three Veronica 'Royal Candles' there, as I think they will look nice with the spikes of blue delphiniums. I really hope that I will be able to enjoy delphiniums again, as I really miss their impressive display. I hope to be able to remove the baskets when the plants get a bit larger (and when there is more for rabbits to eat elsewhere -- delphiniums are listed as deer- and rabbit-resistant plants, but perhaps the tiny seedlings are irresistible).

New Bench Area in Paradise Garden

The "Stairway to Nowhere" could be seen at right, back in March.
In my last post, I discussed how last month I removed the stairs that had formerly led to my front porch before we had it enclosed into a sunroom two years ago. I wanted to put a bench in that sunny, south-facing location, for enjoying the garden on sunny, cool days.

This is what I found under the wooden steps: one concrete step that was probably original to my 1924 house. Rather than try to remove such a huge piece of concrete, I decided to cover it.
I filled the area behind the step with gravel, added leveling sand on top, and laid pavers on the sand.

I still need to have my handyman cut a piece of siding board to match the white pieces above the lattice panels on each side. I might paint the concrete behind the bench too, I haven't decided yet. But it's nice to have a sunny spot to sit in on cooler days -- the bench is much more comfortable than sitting on the decaying steps.

A Few Flowers

There have been a few things flowering recently, such as the bulbs I planted last fall in the Paradise Garden. I planted mostly things that had associations with Turkish gardens, such as lily-flowering tulips, hyacinths and narcissus.

'Purple Dream' Lily-flowering tulips, mixed hyacinths, grape hyacinths and 'Tete-a-Tete' narcissus made a brilliant display.

The 'Purple Dream' tulips from above, showing their interesting star pattern.

'Woodstock' purple hyacinths with orange wallflowers. Zowie!

Stripey 'Marilyn' lily-flowering tulips. The dianthus on the right edge of the bed mostly survived the winter, but the 12 lavender 'Ellagance Blue' plants that I planted last spring have not made it. Time to dig out my receipts....

Anyway, I'm finishing a few last improvements, moving plants around before it gets hot and before I leave for 2&1/2 weeks in June -- does the thought of leaving your gardens for such a long stretch make you nervous? It sure makes me feel that way! I probably need to get out more....

I hope you are enjoying lovely warm days in your gardens, with many flowers to brighten your days and good weather for finishing garden projects. Thanks for reading! -Beth