A brief walk

I decided to dodge a few raindrops and take a walk down the side yard today to visit the late winter flower patch. I have seen so many snaps of snow drops and helebores these past few weeks. So many of my blog friends live in climates that are just a bit warmer and ahead of mine, I always know what to look forward to in a few weeks.

I trimmed away some of the old leaves from last year, and look what I found hidden underneath!

Peppermint Ruffles

Peppermint Ruffles Helebore

I’m glad the tag survived again so I know these little flowers are called Peppermint Ruffles, and I’m glad I decided to move these helebores a couple summers back. They weren’t blooming, and were in a very shady spot. They are still in a shady area, but now get partial sun. They really responded to the new location.

My snow drops have not spread much. I get the same two blooms but it’s still very exciting. I’ve seen some established snow drop gardens that look spectacular, truly look like fields of snow on grass. I’m going to have to get a few more bulbs, or really amend the soil they live in. It’s all about that soil, you know!

The crocuses have been blooming for about 2 weeks now. My favorite February blooms. I’m always surprised by them, but my TimeHop has proven that these guys arrive every February. They are still a very nice surprise.

Crocus

Early Bloomers

Along with the flowers were plenty of hairy bittercress. This weed appeared a couple of years ago and have been popping up very reliably. Seems early this year, but we have had a few balmy weeks. These guys are itchin’ to grow. Best to get out there and pull them up before the blooms go to seed.

Hairy Bittercress

The seed pods snap and let those seeds fly everywhere. Really quite a nuisance.

It did feel good to get out there and pull some weeds. There has been so much rain this year, the ground is very sloggy (is that a word?), so those weeds come right out!

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Move over Winter

It’s here!  The first day of Spring!  I’ve been waiting all winter for her!  (Spring IS a female, right?)

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Of course, I woke up this morning to a light covering of snow out on the deck, but it didn’t “stick to the grass”.  Ha – the ground is too warm!  My crocuses heralded Spring a little too early this year, thanks to the extremely warm temperatures we had in February.  I’m not complaining!  This photo was taken back on February 20.

And the Snowdrops bloomed for the first time this year, I was so excited!  While I was out filling the bird feeder, this little guy shyly said “Hello!”.

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I planted these bulbs 2 years ago, and have been waiting patiently for their arrival.  These guys showed up on March 8.  It’s so wonderful to have some color poking through.  This winter was one of the warmest on record here in the Pittsburgh suburbs, so it will be interesting to note the arrival of these early bloomers in the years to come.

So, this weekend is my annual seed starting weekend.  Along with the marigolds, I’m planning to start my Salsa Garden – Roma tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and cilantro.

 

 

Puttin’ on my shades

I really haven’t thought much about the shade garden for the past few years. It was my ‘original’ original, the first garden I planted from scratch, so to speak. So much work to prepare the ground and find the right plants to survive in the shade of my beloved crabapple tree.

Crabapple

As in most gardens in areas that freeze, some of the perennials make it through the winter, some do not. That’s the main reason I have tried to map out my gardens, so that from year to year, I will recognize what pops its head out in the spring.  Most of what has survived from year to year in my shade garden, without much attention from me, are the numerous hostas.  Once I realized how unbelievably easy they are to start, I gathered many varieties.  My favorite is a blue leaved giant variety I found at Spring Hill Nurseries.

Blue Hosta

I’m not a fan of the flowers that this specimen produces, as they are a bit obscene.  I snip them before they even bloom.

I have a few astilbes that I love, a deep red one and a beautiful white one.  The color fades on these, but even the dead stems add texture and variety to the garden.  Most of the color of this garden, however, comes from the impatiens that I plant regularly.  The search is on for some colorful items that recover as nicely as all the hostas.

I found a lovely blog this morning called Carolyn’s Shade Garden that introduced me to an interesting shade flower called Snowdrops.  Turns out its a winter flower, and I was so excited to realize that Carolyn gardens in Bryn Mawr, PA which happens to be a zone 7a area.  Not much different that my zone 5b.

Snowdrops

I cannot wait to enhance my Shade Garden with some of the flowers I plan to purchase from Carolyn.  She offers Snowdrops and hostas on her website.  She speaks on cyclamen, and I’d love to obtain the secret of a successful cyclamen. Mine have a very interesting leaf, but lately all that I see from my crop are single pink flowers, no leaves.  Also plentiful on Carolyn’s site were Hellebores.

I was first introduced to Hellebores at the Philadelphia Flower show.  Last year, the theme was a British theme.  With England being the home of native Hellebores, most of the displays featured Hellebores of the soft green and white variety.  Subtle yet impressive; but if there are colorful Hellebores to be had, I’m gonna find them also!

Another website that I visited, A Way to Garden offers some good information on caring for Hellebores, in addition to information on adding a water feature to the garden.

Great plans are in the making for The Crabapple Shade Garden this year!