Weekend Garden Notes, April 20, 2014

Getting the Garden in Shape

It was a beautiful weekend, and I’m very pleased with myself for all the spring garden chores I accomplished. For starters, cutting back the rest of the stems and stalks, leaving behind enough dead leaves and plant litter to keep the bugs and birds happy.

Southeast corner of the back garden, with Deutzia and 'Sally Holmes' rose not yet leafing out. It's hard to see, but Jacobs ladder and merrybells are coming up.
Southeast corner of the back garden, with Deutzia and ‘Sally Holmes’ rose not yet leafing out. It’s hard to see, but Jacobs ladder and merrybells are coming up. You can also make out the trench border.

What’s more, I edged all the beds and borders. I like using a shallow trench to form a clear demarcation between the lawn and the flowers, though in some beds pavers fill this function. I only need to clear the trenches once a year, then keep the turf grasses and other invaders from sneaking past. The soil cleared from the trenches is like compost, full of decayed leaves and other vegetable matter, and you can use it as such.

Backyard fountain
Our backyard fountain

Plus, I put away the heated bird bath and got our little fountain started up. And did it without pulling any muscles in my back.

First of the Tulips and Daffodils

Tulipa turkestanica
Tulipa turkestanica

Species tulips are wild tulips, with blooms smaller than the hybrids, that grow in a swath from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. They are wonderful for many reasons, not least of which is that they tend to bloom weeks earlier than the hybrid tulips. Tulipa turkestanica, with its yellow base and nearly flat cream-colored tepals, is a particular favorite of mine. It seems to be successfully naturalizing in my beds.

2014-04-20 17.04.53

Tulipa praestans ‘Unicum’ has vivid red flowers and variegated leaves. It blooms at the same time as T. turkestanica, and they make good companions.


Tulipa biflora
Tulipa biflora

Another early species tulip is Tulipa biflora. Similar to T. turkestanica, but shorter and with delicate, cup-shaped blooms.

'Little Gem' daffodils
‘Little Gem’ daffodils

The first of the daffodils are blooming, including ‘Little Gem’. There’s also a number of bi-colored Large-Cup daffodils, but I’ve lost track of the varieties. I’m especially fond of bi-colored daffodils with white perianths and yellow crowns.

Bicolored daffodils, variety unknown.
Bicolored daffodils, variety unknown.

Containing My Excitement

Hyacinths coming up.
Hyacinths coming up.

The hybrid tulips planted in containers seem to have come through the winter with flying colors. I am eager to see them in bloom. Given the severity of the winter, it would seem that burying the containers provided better protection than putting them in an unheated garage. In addition to nine containers of hybrid tulips, I planted one of common hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis).

Emerging foliage of container tulips.
Emerging foliage of container tulips, underplanted with sweet alyssum.

This weekend I bought a flat of lemon-colored sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and used it to underplant the container tulips.

Our old wheelbarrow planted with pansies.
Our old wheelbarrow planted with pansies.

I also filled our unoccupied containers, including our old rusty wheelbarrow, with pansies: blue, yellow, white, and white with a purple face.

My old shoes planted with  sweet alyssum.
My old shoes planted with sweet alyssum.

Finally, I came up with a use for my old shoes. First I should tell you that I hate shopping for shoes (and clothes in general), and I hate throwing them away. I tend to wear my shoes until the sole is worn through and parting ways with the rest of the shoe. I’ve had a few pairs of these old shoes lined up near the front door, but just recently realized that they would make great planters. Ta da! And the extra holes provide openings for more plants.

Did you get some quality time in the garden this weekend?



46 Comments on “Weekend Garden Notes, April 20, 2014”

  1. I did get some quality time in the garden this weekend, the weather today was fantastic! I am trying to keep up with planting all my new plants soon after acquiring them, rather than hanging onto them till next year or longer, which always ends up with me losing several to winter cold. I recently finished all my cutting back and cleaning up too. I like a trench edge on my beds, I do thte same as you.

  2. You have lovely species tulips, specially Tulips turkestanica.
    I have Sally Holmes too, she is beautiful. She smells lovely and blooms for ages. A real star. I do love single roses.
    What on earth are Merry Bells? Latin please.

  3. You’ve certainly been working hard and it looks very neat. I adore species tulips too and tried a few new ones this year which I’m pleased with. Your wheelbarrow and shoes make lovely features! It rained a bit yesterday which is good but now the sun’s out and I will plant some tomatoes, aubergines etc. in the greenhouse.

  4. Great weekend to be out in the garden. I like your clever use of gardening containers. I tried the container tulips this year, but I left the pots out all winter and so far haven’t seen anything coming up. May be a failed experiment due to the harsh winter. Yours were probably more protected being buried.

  5. I love the fountain. I managed to set up a new feeder pole hopefully out of the squirrels’ reach and dug up three butterfly bushes without killing my back…although some of the roots are still there so I’m not convinced, but I’m looking forward to filling that space with something less invasive. Unfortunately I have tulips the squirrels have planted everywhere and none are blooming yet. …

  6. Hi Jason, love the planted wheel barrow! I like to have neat lawn/border edging too and it’s a job I would be doing around now, but we have no borders in the new garden! We’ve already had the spring bulbs due to the mild winter and early start to the season so it’s nice to see them again in the US garden blogs .

  7. Love those shoes!!!!! That is AWESOME!!!! You are a rockstar Jason!!!! I can not believe all that you accomplished! Beautiful spots all over your garden!!! I have been working out in the garden but I spent much of the time picking a million maple trees out of the front bed…though I did get a few labor intensive jobs done while the beans were coming down from their sugar high on Easter! Wishing you a great week in the garden!!! Nicole

  8. We traveled for Easter and it is always a struggle for me to leave the garden on a nice day but we had a wonderful time. Of course, I walked the garden the minute we returned home. One of my daffodils is blooming today. The scilla are a brilliant, brilliant blue! I noticed your nice edging right away! That is something I hope to accomplish this Spring. I didn’t quite get it done early enough last year. Love all your interesting containers – so nice to see all those flowers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: