Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Daffodils Galore

It has been cold and wet and cold. And it has been damp and chilly too. Spring seems slow in starting this year. I'm disappointed with the sluggish performance of the season so far but the daffodils are taking it in stride. The "Ice Follies" daffodil above is one of nearly 100 bulbs I planted in the community garden last year.

I had serious doubts about how the bulbs would do. The soil in the community garden is dreadful, more dreadful than any living plant should have to endure. Even so, the daffodils are looking good. This is a grouping of "Carlton" just days away from blooming. Both "Carlton" and "Ice Follies" are often described as vigorous growers and both are supposed to be great for naturalizing. Since they are doing so well in their first season, I have real hope that our dismal, little community garden will one day be fantastic.

Last fall I set out on a mission to bring more spring colour to my backyard garden. Well the "King Alfred" daffodils have delivered. The flowers and trumpets are enormous. "King Alfred" daffodils have an interesting story. Once upon a time, long ago and far away, "King Alfred" was considered the king of daffodils. Over the years the bulb was fiddled with and improved upon so much that the original "King Alfred" almost all but disappeared. But the name attached itself to similar, "improved "bulbs and it stuck. As a result, today's "King Alfred" bulbs are really working under an assumed identity.

As beautiful as the "King Alfred" daffodils are there is another King, or should I say Queen, in my garden. This daffodil is my all-time favourite. I planted it long before I knew that a daffodil was more than just a daffodil. I have no idea what it is but I will grow in my garden forever!

There are more daffodils on the way. The buds on the "Irene Copeland" strike me as very unusual for a daffodil. It will be interesting to see what unfolds. I am holding my breath for the "Barrett Browning." It's a white daffodil with an orange centre. I'm also waiting for "Pink Pride" and "Pink Charm" to make an appearance.

So while it has been cold, wet, damp, chilly and cold, the daffodils have injected some much needed "sunshine" into the spring garden.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Blooms, New Garden Project

It has been a while since the first crocus bloom sent me over the moon. I always forget that the wait for spring blooms really does some take some time. But things are definitely happening now.

The sunny yellow blooms of the daffodils are about a day away. Until then the Iris danfordiae are brightening the spring garden. The pictures don't quite do these flowers justice. They are such a bright yellow that you really need sunglasses to look at them. I can see them from my front door and even from about 10 feet away, I squint at their brightness. It may be a while before these beauties bloom again. Based on what I have read, the bulbs have a tendency to break up into mini bulbs which then take several years to gather up enough energy to bloom again. This gives me a good excuse to plant some Iris reticulata to fill in for the danfordiae. Then one day, years from now, the deep purple and the canary yellow will bloom together. That will most definitely be a sight to behold.

I've got a new garden project underway in the front yard. I'm taking back some of the lawn and proclaiming it the new partial/deep shade garden. I like sweeping curves so I've outlined the outer edge of the lawn with said sweeping curve. My neighbours have a front yard garden. You can see some of the grasses they're growing. We talked and agreed that it would make sense to allow the gardens to grow into each other. So there will be no separation of gardens along the property line. Ideally, everything will grow lushly and beautifully and both sides will enjoy an expanded garden view.

However, and it is a BIG however, I have no qualms about putting in a below-ground barrier to stop a patch of goutweed they are growing in a shady spot. A few years back, in a very friendly and concerned way I mentioned the invasive nature of goutweed. They took it into consideration but came to the conclusion that goutweed is well-behaved in the shade. Oh so foolish! Anyway, the goutweed will not be allowed to encroach!!! Perhaps I'm the fool to think I can stop goutweed. Ha!

Last time I took out some lawn I spent a lot of time tearing out the turf. I composted what I could and paid to have the rest trucked away. This time I'm trying something different. I'm digging over the turf and breaking it up as I go. On top of that I'm placing a layer of decomposed leaves (saved from my spring clean-up.) On top of that I'm laying down a thick layer of compost. I'm soaking it all with the hose and then leaving it to settle for a few weeks. Then I'll bring in some triple mix soil, let it sit some more and start planting. A thick layer of mulch will finish off the completed plantings.

It would have been ideal to do the soil prep last fall but I was busy bulb-blitzing the community garden (pictures of that soon). Nevertheless, the front yard garden is looking good so far. The layer of compost alone looks great. I figure I've still got three days of digging and composting ahead of me. As for the evenings, there's no better cure for an aching back and arms than pouring over garden books and making plant lists. Spring is really here.