Sunday, March 22, 2020

Late March hopes

A tiny crocus bloomed last week, open when the sun was shining -- which sadly hasn't happened again since then.

Greetings from the land of cloudy, cold days! After a few warm, sunny days earlier this month, the weather has been rainy, cold and/or windy (usually all three) nearly every day -- and the forecast for the next eight days looks no better. Worse still, it just now started snowing and we're predicted to get an inch and a half. :-(

A cold, overcast spring would get me down in any year, but in this month of social distancing, life would seem so much more cheery if it were sunny. Even if the temperature were unusually cold, some sunny days would make even just reading in my sunroom seem like a tropical vacation. But we gardeners know better than anyone that we don't get to choose our weather -- especially in springtime.

But we did have several sunny days earlier this month, and I was able to make the most of them: I have managed to get out a few times to start cutting back and raking out my garden beds. And I did even manage to get one small project done (see photos below). But because I am an avowed fair-weather gardener, all progress has since come to a halt and shows no promise of resuming any time soon. Maybe next weekend will be nicer....

A Project Completed:

The good news is that I did manage to get one small project done: fixing the edge of a border against my house. We built a library addition onto our house in 2011, and I made a border against the south wall of the addition. It's a great place for spring bulbs, south-facing with good drainage, so bulbs bloom earlier there than in many other parts of my gardens:

Here's a picture of the Addition Front Border a few years ago in April: the bulbs made a pretty good show there.

But the edging bricks that I laid back in 2012 had begun to sink down in one area to the left of the window, so grass was able to grow over the lowered bricks into the bed. For the past several years, I've had to dig out a lot of grass from this border every spring when I rake out the bed, and by autumn it's always grown back again. I finally decided to raise the level of the bricks.

Here's a photo of the area showing the extent to which the bricks had sunken down.
Grass invading! (And beautiful spring color.)

Last week, I decided to raise the edging bricks, but after I started to dig them out, I thought it might be even better to install a metal edging strip inside the brick edging as well, to more effectively keep the grass out. So I drove to our local improvement store and bought ten 8-foot steel edging strips, unloaded them at home, and installed everything.

This looks much better, and I hope it will keep the grass out. 

I installed the metal edging all the way along the edge of the lawn, against the bottom of the fence (inside of which is my Paradise Garden), and along the outside of the bricks outlining the end of my delphinium bed, which is part of my front border, shown at right. My delphinium bed was taken over by runner grass several years ago, so this will be a good improvement, I hope. 

I'll need to replace some of the soil that I repeatedly dug out from the Addition Front Border when I was removing the grass -- the soil level is now lower than it ought to be. But I'll be able to plant some more bulbs this fall, as well as other plants. Many of the old plants and bulbs were casualties of my war on grass over the past few years. With any luck, this area will now be easier to maintain and look better too.

It's good to get at least one project done before the rush of spring planting and other projects that always takes place in April.

I hope you have managed to spend some time outside in your own gardens, enjoying warm sunny days during this stressful time of self-isolating -- and, of course, that you and your families remain healthy. Best Regards, and thanks for reading! -Beth



  1. Hello Beth, I hope you and your family are keeping well in these difficult times. Did you get more snow and did it settle? You did a good job on the edging of that border as seen in the photos above. I'm sure you're thankful to have got that done now that there's limited freedom of movement at this time. You have a lot of space outdoors on you property to walk in to get exercise and gardening will be a good work-out when the weather improves. For now I'm sure you're also glad to have your conservatory and indoor plants to tend. Here do it-yourself and other non-food stores have closed are we're in lock down mode except for key workers such as my daughters who are nurse advisor and teacher of vulnerable children. Most people are working from home if they're company has not closed down for financial reasons. We are in isolation in the old-age category and thankful for our small garden. There are plenty of things to do indoors. There are garden projects to plan on paper, plants to re-pot, seeds to sow in trays etc. It's hard, but we hope and pray that this challenging and dangerous health situation will be overcome. Meanwhile we're thankful that we can communicate with one another across the miles. Take care and stay safe, Beth.

    1. Hi Linda, So glad you visited, and that you and your family are well in these uncertain and circumscribed times. We're mostly indoors too, although home-improvement stores have not closed (as of yet), so that people can continue to fix things that are broken. We're only this week starting to get more coronavirus cases here in Iowa, so people are now staying home more. But I'm sure it won't be long until things start returning to normal for us both. Enjoy a beautiful, flower-filled springtime in the meanwhile! Best, -Beth

  2. What a difference a nice edging makes. It is great to have projects in the garden at such a trying time. Enjoy your spring flowers.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Chloris -- I hope you are also keeping yourself busy while enjoying warm, sunny days in your beautiful gardens. Take care, -Beth

  3. Oh everything is looking so Springy and pretty. Love the new border you put in. You have definitely been doing a lot of work from your before and afters. It's been cold and rainy here but today we finally had some sunshine! Went to Tulsa to pickup some plants curbside as we wanted to be safe so I'm hoping to get some things in the ground this week. I'm sorry about your greenhouse..we had one storm that popped out a panel partially but I had forgotten to close the greenhouse door. My hubbie was able to easily fix it. Ours is still up and doing fine but we always have to remember to batten down the hatches if we are going to have a storm. Hope you stay safe during these crazy times. Gardening has been my therapy and helped me so much these past few weeks!