Sunday, March 8

March Emerging

Things are still a little crazy/busy in my life right now... but it's hard to believe that I have only managed ONE post for all of 2009. So I thought I'd take you for a quick walk through my garden today, since the warm temperatures and recent rains have melted even the most persistent patches of snow. There are quite a few small things to see--along with one big, potentially garden-altering development!

First, the small things. I discovered my first "spring" flower this week, a tiny snowdrop that is fighting to unfurl its petals against a backdrop of 'Chocolate Chip' ajuga, bleached miscanthus blades and seedheads, and other garden detrius:


All of the hellebores show buds barely poking out above the ground now, but the foliage on my beloved 'Ivory Prince' has held up the best through our rough winter:


Sometimes I think that my garden knows that autumn is my favorite season, because it keeps giving me fallish combinations to enjoy throughout the year. Here, a red sedum and caramel-colored beech leaves tumble over a black accent rock:


I know it's still late winter, not early spring, because orange pyracantha berries remain. Generally, the pyracantha is de-berried sometime in the spring by a hungry bird. Pyracantha berries must not be anyone's "food of choice" since they last so long in my yard, but I certainly enjoy the pop of orange they provide:

(By the way, observant readers might notice my garden gloves partially buried beneath the grey creeping germander. I had good intentions to use gloves at one point this summer, but quickly abandoned that idea and left them on the top of that retaining wall. I liked that the plant tried to take them over, so I left them there.)

One nice thing about winter is that I tend to pay more attention to the little details that would probably escape my notice at other times of the year. This picture below looks like just a mess of bleached stems and fallen leaves... but after I first noticed the ghostly grey cascades of oregano flower seedheads, I can't stop looking at their simple elegance as I walk up the steps:


Sometimes I have relied on serendipity to give me good color/combinations in the garden, but other "luck" has been quite deliberately cultivated. Here, I had actually thought about how nice the spotted leaves of these species tulips will look against a background of red sedum, when they finally emerge:


Growing tulips and other spring flowers through colorful groundcovers is definitely something I enjoy. It gives the groundcovers a chance to shine as part of a main attraction instead of just being a flat "ground" to rest the eye. Here you see more species tulips working their way through a spread of 'Chubby Fingers' sedum:

(Of course I couldn't resist pulling out my dirt thermometer after taking this photo--I left it in for scale. And for the record, it was 32 degrees in that patch of soil yesterday!)

Another succulent that has been catching my eye recently is one that lives inside for the winter. This vignette of cascading succulent, crown of thorns plant, and trashpicked old end table--with its fun rustic chipped-stain/paint finish and awesome metal pulls--makes me smile every time I reach the top of my main staircase:


Speaking of, I really need to go sweep those stairs, and get a few other things done today... but first, I need to share the big, potentially garden-altering news. After two years of emails and phone calls, the city has finally cut down the half-dead tree from my treelawn. Here's the view just after they took down the rest of the trunk--they'll be coming back shortly to grind out the stump:


I'm happy about this development, because it was a basswood tree and dropped branches like crazy, even before half of the tree started to die. (The slow death happened around the same time I started digging up the front yard for a garden... no coincidence, I'm sure!) But I'm also a little worried, because it did provide some shade for my West-facing, mostly xeric, front yard garden.

I'm pretty sure that this will be the death knell for the already-stressed doublefile viburnum that I love but don't really want to baby as much as I already do... it will need to be replaced with something much more tolerant of dry, hot exposures. The Spanish foxgloves, which have been low-maintenance in this garden so far, may also be a little stressed by the change... but hopefully all of the rest of the plants will be just fine. I'm not worried about things like pennisetum, miscanthus, caryopteris, sages, echinops and other plants with hardy constitutions.

We'll see how they all make it through this next year, and whether they finally get measurably larger here in year 3. If they perform as expected, I should be seeing much more of the kind of winter interest that I had planned to see in this front yard garden, in 2010!

21 comments:

Carol said...

I really enjoyed that nice walk around your garden. It's like when you keep trying to catch someone at home, keep missing them, and then finally they are there so you stop for a nice visit. Love the gloves on the wall, and the way serendipity colors your garden.

I also have a soil thermometer, but haven't taken a temperature reading yet. I will soon to make sure it is 'safe' to plant peas in the garden.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

EAL said...

Great tour, and good to see a post from you. I really have to master the ground cover/early bulb combination. It is difficult to get through the tree roots to plant them. I THINK I planted those spotted-leaf tulips, but I am not sure. I meant to. They look great!

Kylee said...

You're a little bit ahead of us here with some of your things, but our hellebores look like twins. I'm not sure exactly what hellebore it is that the foliage looks really good - it could be 'Ivory Prince' - but the others looked pretty ragged, so I trimmed them back.

I forgot to check on my little snowdrops when I was out today! I'm sure they're in full bloom now, since one looked about like yours a few days ago.

Yay, for the removal of that tree!!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

One of the attractions of gardening is that things are always changing and there's always something new. Full sun, western exposure can be challenging, but it's also a great opportunity. I can't wait to see what you choose to replace the Viburnum. I must get a soil thermometer. Winging it just isn't a good idea. It's good to visit your garden again.

A wildlife gardener said...

You have lots out even though it's not quite Spring yet, BSG...love the sedums :)

Gail said...

Glad to read your post today. Your tours are the best...I love Ivory Prince. He is a prince and was added to my garden just a few weeks ago. He's hanging out with Silvermoon... Another hellebore with pewter leaves. May I suggest another viburnum? What about V rufidulum. It fantastic autumn color?

gail

Layanee said...

I know most of us have missed your posts and this was worth the wait. Good job on the species tulips and the sedum. They look magnificent. Glad your hellstrip tree is gone. Tabula rasa!

Leslie said...

I was happy to see your post pop up on my reader! Will the city plant a new tree? And do you get to have input on what it might be? Happy almost spring!

Meagan said...

Love the Red Sedum. They look like flowers made of pine cones.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I enjoyed the tour through your slowly awakening garden. The tulips in the sedum is such a good idea. It is nice to stroll through the garden at the end of winter to see the less striking plants doing their best.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Thanks, Carol! I feel like I haven't really been able to catch myself at home over the past few months, either, so I know what you mean. :) And I have to admit that I actually left the soil thermometer in the ground over the winter... I had been checking out the fall soil temps and completely forgot to take it out once the snow started to fly!

EAL, I think I'm really lucky in that I could get some of these bulb and groundcover areas started now, while the trees at my place are still young... even the treelawn tree that was removed was a little difficult to work around in the front yard. And I love that those little species tulips often have spotted foliage... any color/detail is welcome in the spring, I think!

Kylee, I need to cut back my other hellebores, too--they look very ragged. I'll have to look at your blog to see if you did find those little snowdrops... :)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, it definitely will be a challenge! And an opportunity: I have been loathe to pull out that viburnum in spite of its fussy, water-loving nature in an otherwise pretty xeric garden... but the added stress of several more hours of sun in the afternoon has made that decision for me, for sure! lol.

Thanks for stopping by, wildlife gardener! It does feel like things are starting to wake up and poke their heads out... even though it isn't quite spring. :)

Gail, he IS a prince, for sure! (Although, frankly, he may need to be moved, too, with the added sun... hmm.) And now that I look at 'Silvermoon' I'm wondering whether I might have space for some more hellebores anywhere--I love those leaves!

The viburnum rufidulum is very pretty, but I don't know that I have the space for it. The doublefile was pushing the limits of the size I wanted, and I was planning to do some judicious pruning with it... and v rufidulum is even bigger! I definitely need some winter interest, too... decisions, decisions... :)

Layanee, aww... thanks. I've missed keeping up with everyone else's blogs, too. Can't wait to catch up and see what I've been missing!

Leslie, the city seems to want to leave these spaces go for a while before they plant a tree, unless the homeowner requests one immediately. They will come back, grind out the stump, and seed grass over the space that remains... and then I think that when the time comes to replant a tree, I will be allowed to choose from a short list. But really, I'd be fine without one--I kind of despise the idea of treelawn trees!

Meagan, don't they?! Especially now--sometimes they loose all of those little red leaves over the winter and just look like naked fleshy stems, but the good snowcover this winter kept some of the leaves around at the tips. Very fun. :)

Greenbow Lisa, that's an excellent point: the little groundcover sedum (the green one) is usually a "less striking plant," but I love that the end of winter/beginning of summer gives this little guy the chance to shine!

kate smudges said...

It's so good to see new life emerging in the spring. Your foliage combinations are wonderful. Maybe the viburnum will surprise you and survive. Happy spring to you, Kim!

Stratoz said...

this post made me think of one of my favored quotes, from Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

"Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—"

joey said...

Be it winter, summer, autumn, spring ~ I delight in walking beside you, dear Kim. May this spring fill your heart with glee :) (Hugs)

Annie in Austin said...

There's sometimes a nostalgic feeling on our walks through your garden, Blackswamp Kim - even though I've never been there, maybe because we've experimented with the same plants. My old IL garden had combinations of bulbs and groundcovers, too - and the striped leaf tulips were a favorite.

The tree guys came back to grind the stump a few weeks after we had the Arizona Ash cut down in 2007. We let the large "footprint" sit and mellow for a year. I'm glad we waited - the plants practically jumped out of the ground after it was turned into a garden. Good luck with your new space!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Raquel at Cool Garden Things said...

I never thought of that before, but truly I gaze out my window and look at my garden more in the depth of winter than in the glory of summer! Strange indeed...

Benjamin Vogt said...

32 degree soil??? Get planting girl!!!

Muum said...

nice tour for those of us who are spring-hungry. Have been out of the blogging loop, too, trying to get back in the habit, and so enjoy seeing what you are up to!

Rosemarie said...

I really like the red sedum, I'm getting drawn to having one or 2 things of a different color come bombarding into the typical green.

lisa said...

Hooray for more sun! My friend trimmed some branches for me to the same effect, though not quite as dramatic. I'm glad to see your spring is coming along nicely! :)

Kerri said...

It's nice to see your garden waking up, Kim. I love the sedums with the tulips poking through and must remember how good that looks for future plantings.
I'll look forward to seeing 'Ivory Prince' in all his glory soon.
Glad your dying tree has finally been removed. It'll be interesting to see how your front garden fares without that bit of shade.
Happy spring! :)

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