Monday, April 23, 2012 15 comments

The 2012 Rose Season is Officially Open

Cecile Brunner (aka The Sweetheart Rose) is my first bloomer of the year.
This is my first spring in the mountains, and since we’ve had such a whacky winter, I didn’t know when my roses might start blooming.

But today it’s official – Climbing Cecile Brunner has revealed her first pastel pink blossom, declaring it to be Opening Day in the Hunt rose garden.

I haven’t always been so clueless as to when I’d get a sniff of my first spring posy.  During the years I lived and gardened in Maryland, I made notes of when my roses and other important plants would begin their new parade of blooms.

 Souvenir de la Malmaison
For example, in looking back at an old wall calendar, I knew that by April 13th I’d see at least one showy Souvenir de la Malmaison in the garden. For over a decade it made an appearance close to that date and never let me down.

I also knew I’d see male hummingbirds zipping around by the 17th. And the next week another Bourbon rose, Zephirine Drouhin, and the David Austin charmer Cottage Rose would make their spring debuts.

Fireflies would light up the evening sky beginning May 15th -- a sure sign that summer was around the corner.

Now that I’ve moved to a new garden and a different USDA zone, I’ll have to start my record keeping all over again. I’m wondering if the mild winter and reports of other plants flowering early will throw off my calculations.

Nevertheless, anticipating the day the garden will burst into bloom is sure to be a tonic next year.

And from experience, I know having a rough idea of when each variety will be at its best is helpful when planning special events, whether it’s a family bar-b-que or an outdoor garden party.

Diaries can banish the blahs.

A “diary” needn’t be more time-consuming than jotting down a plant name on a standard calendar, then updating bloom dates yearly.

But don’t dismiss the idea of doing a more elaborate journal. Some people add photographs, even their own paintings to notations about plants, insects, weather conditions and so forth. Such a journal can be an invaluable garden tool and an informative heirloom.

I wrote extensively about my vegetable garden one particular year. I only kept the notebook going for a season, but still enjoy going back to reread my entries. And it’s probably no coincidence I had my best veggie garden ever while I was so attentive.

Cottage Rose always stole the show in late April.
So if you generally suffer from flower withdrawal and the winter blahs, or just want an idea as to what will happen when, consider sowing some spring aspirations now in a personal journal or diary.

It may just give your gardener’s soul a chance to blossom early in 2013.

Friday, April 6, 2012 3 comments

Small wonders

Houstonia serpyllifolia, not Forget-me-nots
In a recent newsletter, the folks at Gardens of the BlueRidge report the very warm winter has caused most of their plants to go into a tizzy. Apparently many species are flowering up to three weeks early and because of the warmth, the bloom period has been very short.

Their Bloodroot and Virginia Bluebells have come and gone. The Trilliums appeared early and were quickly devoured by grateful deer. Aside from the Toad Trillium (which apparently Bambi doesn’t care for), all other varieties for 2012 are gone.

This was all very interesting because I had no clue what to expect or when. This will be my first spring in the mountains so I wasn't sure when most of our native wildflowers bloom. Every day has been a treat because there is always something new popping up.

In an earlier posting I wrote about stumbling across the Halberd-leaf Yellow Violet. Since then I’ve discovered we have bunches of them all over the property – I’ll certainly recognize the distinctive leaves next spring.

Don't know the name, but it's pretty.
I’ve also found two other tiny violets, a white one no wider than ¼ of an inch. The other is a bit bigger with purple markings, but I can’t find it in any of my wildflower books.

Another wonderful discovery was a swath of Forget-me-nots growing down by the stream. This native New Zealand flower of the genus Mycostis sylvatica is regarded as a symbol of remembrance, love, constancy and undying hope.

Upon further review, the jaunty blue flowers aren’t forget-me-nots at all, but Bluets, a member of the Madder family. They are sometimes called “Innocence” or “Quaker ladies” because the flower shape resembles a Quaker lady’s hat. They can grow in open grassy areas, woodlands and along streams.

No matter what you call them, these delicate blooms are a welcome addition to my garden.

And with so many new wildflowers making their appearance this time of year, I can’t wait to see what’s out in the woods tomorrow.