Tuesday, September 1, 2020 10 comments

Gardening in the time of Covid


This past January 23rd, I traveled up to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville to judge the roses that were part of the Biltmore International Rose Trials.


To many it seemed strange to be evaluating roses in the middle of winter and folks wondered what in the heck there was to see. I explained that as part of the trials, we judged four times a year and in January, I was looking for vigor and diseased foliage.


It took no time at all to eyeball the few dozen bushes in the trials and write down my observations. So before long I was off to admire all the gorgeous plants blooming in the Conservatory. Then I took a spin around the garden gift shop to see what treasures I couldn’t live without.


Little did I know it would be my last trip to the Biltmore and my last evaluation after almost nine years as part of the International Trials. We did not know then what was lurking around the corner.


It was business usual in late January and early February when the hellebores bloomed. 



By late February my pansies needed to be refreshed and the local garden center was happy to oblige with some perky new plants. I was already thinking about spring and all the perennials I wanted to add to the garden. 



That garden shopping spree never happened.


Instead, when we were in lockdown, I had to be content with the garden as it was. But I am not complaining. I am grateful. Having my little patch of earth to tend was a blessing in strange, difficult and sometimes frightening times.


No matter how disconcerting the news, the garden chugged along, unveiling the pleasures of spring with each passing day.


The clematis bloomed. 





Then the roses. 



                       'The Lark Ascending'



                                 'Edward Degas' 


And in the forest, I found intriguing new discoveries like the Barometer Earth Star (Astraeus hygrometricus) fungus.



The hydrangeas were the best ever. The daylilies, too.






Dahlias and coneflowers are now signaling summer is on the way out and fall is in view.



What will happen in the next few months? Unfortunately, my crystal ball is on the blink. 




But the garden will be there, getting ready for its long winter nap. 

And I will be grateful.