May is Busting Out!

A recent walk through the gardens reveals that yes, indeed, spring has sprung!  If I’m not careful, I’m gonna miss it!  It’s amazing to me how fleeting this season is.  I look forward, as I’m sure you do as well, to the blooming of the flowers.  They don’t last long, though!

The crabapple bloomed just in time for prom season.

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Roses for prom

Brittany looked simply divine, and I was so pleased that the crabapple waited until the weekend of May 3 to burst into bloom.

Amazingly, the blooms lasted all of a week, until a strong wind storm blew all the blossoms all over the neighborhood.

The azaleas have passed their prime, little over a week did they stay.

And now I’m thoroughly enjoying the irises.

A few years back, I found a lonely bag of irises under a bench at the softball field.  I’m sure one of the other softball moms brought them to share, but they were left behind.  I kept my eye on that bag until after the game, and when no one claimed them, I rescued them myself.

It has taken a few years, and a few relocations, but I think I’ve finally hit the jackpot with the current location.

I will never forget the excitement that first year waiting for the irises to bloom.  I had no idea what variety I had found.  I was secretly hoping for a blue one, but these purple ones were not a disappointment!  And I could not beat that price!

I did not have much hope that any of them were going to bloom this year.  Every day, I would go out and take a peep between the greens.  I hope they do forgive me, for I did feel a bit aggressive checking under the hood, so to speak.  But quite magically, one day I went out to an array of spikes that must have shot up overnight, I kid you not!

And seriously, these guys bloom at night.  I was watching the buds getting ready to burst one evening late last week, and the next morning I woke up to a purple garden that took my breath away!

And Beverly Sills has made her appearance as well.  She was the lone bloomer last year, and I do believe she really appreciates some company at the party this year.

I’m sorry to say that a heavy rain storm yesterday afternoon may have ruined these beautiful blooms, but there are more to come.  Hopefully, the rain will hold off long enough for me to catch my breath, as well as a few more pictures to share.

The Bachelor’s button is so much fun to photograph.  I got a little daring with the macro lens this past weekend, and got some truly amazing shots.

No wonder we look forward to spring, all year long!  But as I said, take a moment to enjoy it.  It won’t be around for long.

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Pruning the crabapple

CrabappleI have been wanting to thin the death out of the crabapple tree for a few years now, and Sean helped me achieve it this past weekend!  The few moments of manpower he contributed really kept me focused – he had minimal time between periods of the NBA playoffs (!) so I had to make haste with my pruning decisions.  He loves the new chainsaw (as do I!) and he also loves the fact that he won’t be ducking under the low branches that we trimmed off when he’s out cutting the grass.

There are many good sources for advice on trimming your crabapple tree – I found a few just by Googling “Pruning Crabapple Trees”.

 

When to Prune a Crabapple

But is spring really the optimal time to be pruning the crabapple?  According to what I’ve read, the best time is late winter through early spring.  Considering the extreme cold and snow of this most recent winter, there was no way I was pruning in January or February!  The tree may have survived, but I’m not sure I would have.

The best time to prune is before the tree blooms in last spring, so I’m hoping I didn’t do too much damage by taking my shots at it in late April.  It’s still pretty cool outside, and with the leaves just starting to emerge, I was able to determine quite easily which branches were dead.

 

How to Prune a Crabapple

Some very basic guidance:

  • You should never take more than 1/4 of the branches (not that I’m counting!),
  • Remove the shoots that are heading straight up – they are suckers that should be removed
  • Any branches that cross or touch should be eliminated (a skiing friend use to tell me “x’s are bad”)
  • Don’t try to prune the entire tree in one season.  Less pruning is better than too much, just realize you should consider making this an annual event for at least 3 seasons.

 

Tools to Use

Most of my pruning was done with loppers and a long pruner with a pull rope.

But some of the larger branches had to be removed using a small 10″ chainsaw.  I found my small chainsaw on HSN.com – it’s a GreenWorks brand that comes with a pole for higher pruning action!  As I’m still in training with this tool, I wasn’t comfortable using it any further than my hand could reach, but it’s a nice option for this future lumberjack!

Caution!

Caution! Lady with a chainsaw!

 

It didn’t take 10 minutes of chainsaw action to bring the neighbors out to take a gander.  Of course, Elaine brought out a basket of cookies, which made Sean’s efforts totally worth it!

John wanted to know what we would be doing with all the trimmings – I will be cutting them up into kindling and firewood for a few summertime fires I have planned.  I found a great idea for the firepit and can’t wait to have Sean help me with that!

 

Ice in the trees

Mid-January in Pittsburgh.  Hardly seems like the time or place to start thinking about gardening.  But a girl can dream! 

I’m actually listening to ice pellets hitting the windows at this moment.  It’s only 28 degrees out there, and the ice on the grass will soon be covered by the estimated 2-4 inches of snow.  The gardener in me often wonders why I live here – we don’t get much sunshine – in the US, second only to Seattle for cloud covered days.  I really believe the dreary majority of days helps me truly appreciate the sun when it does appear.  That’s what I keep telling myself . . .


Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful day – for this ice storm that is surely creating crystal encapsulated trees that the snow will cling to.  I can’t wait to see your magnificent work in the morning light!