Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday Workday

With a garden full of my favorite perennials, there never seem to be enough flowers to cut for the house.  So, for years I have wanted a cutting garden.

Not that I haven't tried.  I've planted lots of zinnias over the years and a cosmos or two, but I've never had a real cutting garden.  Enter the generous Belinda from Wild Acres.  Last fall she did a seminar [bloginar?] on how to start a cutting garden.  I learned two things:  that gardening conditions in England are not that different from those in Central Virginia, and that I needed a new approach - no more sticking a few annuals in among ("amongst", Belinda would say) the perennials and shrubs.  I needed a new garden.
Space is still in good supply in the yard, so I took [what seemed at the time to be] a big chunk out of the unused side yard - which fortunately gets 6-8 hours of morning sun during the growing season.  It will be visible from the street once there are flowers to see, and my office window overlooks it, so I can keep track of what's happening "down there".

You know the tricks.  Last September I laid out the space with a hose and walked around it for a few days; then added Roundup.  A week later and a lot of spade work and voila!
Belinda had provided a list of flowers that she recommended - many of which were unfamiliar to me - so I dived into the fall seed catalogs [did you know that spellchecker doesn't like "catalogue"?] and placed orders with Rebecca's and Stokes seeds as well as orders at Brecks and Brent and Becky's bulbs.  And the seeds came rolling in!  Such fun to read and re-read the packages and plan what needed to go where.
You also know what happened next.  By the time I had planted half of the fall seeds, my bed was nearly full and I still had many more packages for spring planting.  Snug in the bed were nigilla, stock, larkspur, poppies, and bachelor's buttons.  Following Belinda's instructions, I watered and then watched them all winter.  She said they would look like weeds, but since I planted in stick-straight rows, it was easy to tell that they are not weeds!

Clearly they did well this winter, because the local rabbits took to dining on the larkspur.  I had to cover part of the bed until they got tall enough to not be tender and delicious!
Which brings us to this Wednesday Workday.  I have finished planting this bed - maybe.  You can see that stock, larkspur, nigilla and bachelor's buttons are growing well.  I actually need to thin some of them a good bit.  This week I planted seeds for scabiosa.  Only three spindly little poppies have come up, so I am thinking that they may not make it and I will replant that section with more scabiosa - but will give it two more weeks.
And I have cleared a second full bed for astrantia and dahlias and a smaller area in the perennials.  Brent and Becky sent me a little something yesterday and Breck's has a shipment on its way from Holland.  Much more planting in my near future.  Thanks, Belinda!

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012...

...on which I join the chorus of, "It's too soon!"
On March 20 last year.  Today they are all gone.
The tulips are starting to open.
I was planning on mid-April to May.  Were you?
Last year they waited until April 3.  This year I've already cut this plant once for the house.
Dogwood and creeping phlox seem to have kept to a normal calendar, tho.  Somehow that's comforting. Am finally starting to feel ok in all this warm air.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Need a Kick in the ...

... well, you know where.

Forget meteorological spring.  Forget astronomical spring.  Forget calendar spring.  It's clearly spring - no matter how you look at it. 
So, why can't I get in the mood?

Was it the short warm winter?  Not enough cold and bad weather to make me long for sunshine and warm breezes?  Not enough snow to make me yell, "enough"?  Too few dreary days?
Whatever it is, the sap just isn't rising in me yet.  I've wasted nearly 10 days of pretty afternoons when I could have been out in the garden.  I've wasted seven extra hours of daylight.  I'm the only mammal in Central Virginia who's still hibernating.

Finally, today there are branches of flowering almond on the table and a bowl of stock on the table - the first blooms from my new cutting garden - but still I can't get excited. 
Just when I need a touch of spring fever, I got nada.  I need a kick - well, you know where!