April, Come She Will.
Well, today, as my East coast friends drown in snow, I found proof that the winter gardening will not last forever – a little tulip, virtually discarded in a small pot with its mates at the end of last spring, just because I’m loathe to toss out any living thing. Tulips are treated as annuals in this part of the States (Zone 9) as they prefer very cold winters and shouldn’t re-bloom the next year. And yet, here is a flower and a couple of buds to prove the sceptics wrong and bring joy to my flower-starved eyes.
We moved house and garden at the end of last year. It took two big trailer trips to carry all my pots to the new house down the road. We moved during a very cold snap and, alas, a few of my plants didn’t even last one night before being zapped by the frost. Some of them, like my wonderful, beloved lotus ground cover, are probably gone forever. Luckily my cuttings are doing fine in their mini greenhouse. Others, like the clivias, should spring back in the warmer weather. Even now I see a baby leaf peeking out from beneath the shelter of its limp and lifeless compadres. Not much winter gardening for me this year as I moved as everything was dying off or going dormant, although I have lots of pots waiting to burst forth. One potplant that is loving the winter is the helleborus which has been happily flowering under the tree all winter long.
But there are other signs that winter is grudgingly giving way to spring. Vincas are starting to bloom in the garden, always the first to show their merry faces. I had to empty out the bath bed for the move, and I replanted it with lilies, having been told that there is no need to protect my irises from gophers or deer as neither eat them. So I planted them in the ground near my front steps, waiting for a proper bed to be dug there in early February.
But back to the bath bed. I decided to sow some poppy seeds on the top of the bath bed to keep the lilies company. I tossed Shirley, Bread Seed and Iceland poppy seeds into the very damp soil. Now I see a whole array of seedlings popping up. Some will bloom before the lilies and some later in the season. All will hide the stems of the lilies as they grow and then whither away. Hopefully that bed will provide a long season of color all through the summer. For good measure, I also transplanted some self sown sweet peas to the back of the bed so that they can clamber up the supports there when their legs are long enough.
I’ve been buying seeds of wild flowers and meadow flowers to add to my collected seeds and I’m going to sprinkle them all along the fence line in the hope that the visiting deer will find everything they want there instead of coming into the garden proper. A vain hope, probably, but worth a shot. A neighbor of mine has a wonderful garden up the hill and she’s offered to give me some tips on gardening with deer, including electric fencing and sensor driven sprinklers. She did suggest to me, however, that I make peace with nature or drive myself nuts! That’s probably the best advice I’m going to get.
The other evening a lovely deer came into the garden and looked very relaxed as she trimmed the rose bush outside the kitchen. I didn’t know deer liked roses.
This garden is much bigger than my last, with very little planted in it at the moment, so it’s full of opportunity. My first order of business, when it’s a little warmer, is to dig two flower beds, one on each side of my front steps. I’ve bought the gopher wire and the manure’s waiting to be collected on a dry day.
Spring comes slowly to this area so I have bought two heating tray systems to plant early seeds in. I’ve never used them before so it’ll be interesting to see how they work. I’m trying to be disciplined and not plant the seeds too soon but the call of spring, faint as is it, is making me impatient. I’ve got everything lined up, ready and waiting, including a packet of blue Himalayan poppy seeds which I’ve been wanting to grow forever. I’m probably still in the wrong zone for them but, then, so am I for the tulips so it’s worth a bash.
In the meantime, I’ll make do with the not too shabby view from my front door.
Happy gardening and please don’t forget your sunscreen. There’s so much skin cancer about, you must protect your skin.
By the way, here is a link to a list of gopher resistant plants: http://www.groundcoversandgardening.com/gopher resistant plants.
If you want to buy plants that deer probably won’t eat, look here. I know I will be.