New Growth

April 29th, 2018 | 12 Comments »

Today it is grey and rainy but yesterday felt like spring. And how wonderful that was! Despite the soggy ground, covered in many places with deer pellets and dead leaves, I spent an hour or so wandering around the garden, enjoying the sunshine and the new growth that was popping up in every warm corner.

For readers who live in milder climates or in places where spring has truly sprung, the thrill of seeing new growth may have come and gone. But living in a cold climate, where snow is still lurking in the shade, the strength of the thrill is hard to describe.

I actually gasped when I saw this little leaf. How tiny it was, yet how strong it must have been to break through the litter and begin to grow. And isn’t the colour glorious?

 

I think this is Heuchera 'Obsidian.'
I think this is Heuchera ‘Obsidian.’ Or is it Ligularia ‘Othello?’ Both grow in this spot in the garden and both have dark leaves.

 

Seeing the quilted foliage of lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) cradling the morning’s rain drops was like being awarded a medal for courage. Yes, we both survived the winter.

 

The new leaves are soft and fuzzy.
The new leaves are soft and fuzzy.

 

Everywhere, the new growth was pushing up through the chilly soil, reaching for the sun. Peonies shoots were emerging, a gorgeous shade of red.

 

Peony shoots just emerging are a gorgeous shade of red.
As they push up through the ground the peony leaves are tightly folded, like hands in prayer.

 

Water thundering over the dam signalled that snow was melting quickly on higher ground.

 

Water thunders over the dam.
The sound of the water racing over the dam isn’t deafening but it is impressively loud.

 

Nearby, the daffodils that form the Dragon’s Tail were still only a scribble of green, but soon they will burst into bloom.

 

The Dragon's Tail will soon be coloured yellow and white.
I replaced the muscari, or grape hyacinth, that turned the Dragon’s Tail blue with a mix of yellow and white daffodils. The deer ate the emerging muscari foliage, weakening the bulbs. They leave daffodils alone.

 

Seeing those signs of spring made me happy. But the biggest jolt of happiness came when I saw  this little clump of good cheer. I had to crouch down to make sure of what I was seeing — a type of dwarf iris called Iris danfordiae.

 

Yellow is such a treat to the eyes after a winter of white.
Yellow is a treat to the eyes after a winter of white.

 

In 2005 I planted 100 of these bulbs, anticipating a burst of sunshine that would gladden my soul for years to come. But that’s not what happened. In my plant list the following year, I noted that the bulbs were not doing well. And then they simply disappeared.

Spotting the clump, I rejoiced. Never give up hope, they seemed to say.

Poking around on the internet, I discovered that going for years without blooming is not unusual for Iris danfordiae. I learned that when they are left in the ground, the bulbs break up into bulblets which then need time to grow large enough to bloom. So next year, will I see even more?

 

A tiny clump = a huge surprise.
These dwarf irises are about 4 inches tall. The spots on the petals are described in the standard literature as brown. I’d call them green.

 

Danford irises, first collected in Turkey in 1876, were named after their collector, a Mrs. Danford whose first name I wasn’t able to find. She was one of those intrepid Englishwomen who explored foreign lands in the Victorian era, botanizing and revelling in the freedom that came with exploration.

I leaned in for a closer look at the fine points of the flower…

 

A cheery face looks up to the sun.
A cheery face looks up to the sun.

 

… only to discover that I wasn’t the only one who found the flower appealing!

 

Two bees and a bug.

 

Happy spring to one and all!


I’m linking this post to a meme sponsored by Helen, the Patient Gardener, called the End of the Month View. I didn’t know about this meme when I posted earlier today but it seems that I’ve written something close enough to an “end of the month view” to connect it to other garden writers around the world.

As the Garden Turns

April 22nd, 2018 | 12 Comments »
This garden in the Eastern Townships has a splendid view out over the countryside.
Does your garden turn its face to the world or does it veil it off?  The difference says a lot, about you and the style of your garden -- and about the spirit of the times. Recently I spoke to several groups about how to get the most out of garden visits.  Learning to Look: the Art of Garden Observation considers what it takes to really see a garden. A handout for the talk asks some key questions, starting with the garden's context.  How does it relate to the world around it? Is it open to its surroundings or closed off? Topography

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The Unsprung Spring

April 16th, 2018 | 14 Comments »
Poor little snowdrops, coated with ice from this morning's freezing rain.
Spring just won't make up its mind. One day it cracks open the door, the next day, slams it shut. And I'm fed up! Come on, Spring, get a move on. Some years, snowdrops have finished by now. This year, they have barely started.   [caption id="attachment_6147" align="aligncenter" width="2334"] These poor little snowdrops are coated with ice from this morning's freezing rain. And yes, that's a patch of snow in front of them.[/caption]   In a normal spring, by now water would be splashing gaily over the rocks at The Cascade. Instead

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It’s Maple Syrup Time!

April 9th, 2018 | 14 Comments »
Jacques ladles the syrup into the final boiling pan.
It's that super sweet time of the year, when sap is transformed into maple syrup. We've been making maple syrup at Glen Villa for many years now. My father-in-law tapped trees and the site of his old sugar camp is now an art installation in the woods.   [caption id="attachment_5000" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Orin's Sugarbush is a magical spot in winter, when snow outlines pieces of rusted tin, suspended from surrounding trees to suggest the roof that once was there.[/caption]   Making maple syrup takes time, particularly if you do it

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The Best Egg Ever

April 3rd, 2018 | 6 Comments »
What's Easter without an egg or two?   With 18 family members around on the weekend, the eggs disappeared almost as quickly as they were found.   This most beautiful of eggs was a special treat... before,   during,     and after.     Thanks, Sandra!