Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring's Start 2015

Spring has been slow to start in my region (zone 7a) in 2015, but it sure doesn't take long for the list of outdoor chores to pile up!

We had our tall trees limbed up on March 30, and Mr. P. completed the first mowing of 2015 on March 31. From this point until late November, the marathon of landscape maintenance is on.
Most of our landscape was trimmed late last fall, so it's just now that I'm needing to start my maintenance in the yard. One of the first things I did was transplant my lemon seedlings again. The photo below is an update on my lemon plant propagation experiment, day 60 (April 4, 2015) that I posted on in March. They're still growing!
Update April 4, 2015: Lemon Plant Propagation Experiment
First blooms in the garden are always my pansies, springing back to life after the snow melts, along with my daffodils and hyacinths.
First blooms: hyacinths, daffodils, and over-wintered pansies
Next up, my PJM rhododendrons put on a show in the front corner of my landscape, this year the first week of April (liriope is barely showing signs in the mulch). As you can see by the photo below, we are gradually replacing eleven year old, leggy plantings with younger plants. At the same time the PJMs are blooming, the very back landscape beds are showing signs of hostas emerging, while clumps of white anemones and candytufts bloom among them. The candytufts were new additions last year, and I planted a total of five, hoping they'll spread far and wide.
Early April blooms: PJM rhododendrons, candytuft, and white anemones
By mid-April, with nearly 4" of rain already in this month so far, things were really greening up throughout the beds: irises, bee balm, spirea, sage, and buttercups (front to back in photo below). The lawn and hostas seem to grow inches overnight, and the grass was cut again. Early in the season is the best time to get out and pull weeds and unwanted plants that grow from horizontal shoots (rhizomes is the technical term). For me, that includes out-of-control bee balm and nandina (heavenly bamboo).
Various degrees of green: (Top) irises, bee balm, spirea, sage & buttercups; (Bottom) lawn, Japanese maple (l), Kousa dogwoods (center). Trees in background are on riverbank property, just across road
The Japanese maple is starting to flesh out, while the Kousa dogwoods are still slow to bud. I placed my little rain gauge in the yard, next to the irises on the 13th, and by the morning of the 14th, another 1.5" of rain had fallen with no signs of it stopping anytime soon.

Elsewhere in the garden, I placed my first hummingbird feeder up on the 13th, but it may be a couple more weeks and several changes to the feed before my first visitor arrives from its migration. I trimmed my butterfly bushes and clematis vine (both of which were already showing new growth, and I trained the new vines on the clematis around the copper swirls on the tripod trellis). I have poppies finally taking root (planted from my sister's cuttings last year) and, fingers crossed, soon to show blooms. 
Hummingbird feeder, clematis on tripod trellis, sassafras volunteer, wall of lavender, poppies, and rabbit hole (center).
Mr. P's sassafras volunteer on the riverbank is about to burst with leaves (3 yrs old now). My lavender seems to have wintered over well in the courtyard and landscape both, much better than winter of 2014. And, just like last year, I have a rabbit nesting in the middle of my landscape, digging a hole in the wide open space. Last year, nature took care of the situation when a hawk swooped down as my bouncer. Rabbits are not the smartest when it comes to selecting real estate.

It looks like I'll be battling wild violets this year. They've seriously encroached on one mulch bed in particular. It's a bed in front of our fence gate, near the road and neighboring property, and has always had liriope in it. A few years ago, though, the liriope was over-thinned (unsupervised help), and the violets took over. I'm trying Preen, which a neighbor swears by, but if any reader has a better suggestion, please put it in a comment or write me an email. I don't want to kill the liriope, just the wild violets, but I may need to start over by Fall if I can't get it under control.
Unwanted wild violets among landscape bed of emerging liriope
Postscript: I simply couldn't help but be dazzled with the explosion of colors in my neighborhood while walking on the morning after this post was published (April 20th). Just one week from when all the other photos in this post were taken, and look at the differences in blooms in the two pictures below! The first photo below is the Japanese maple in my yard (same one as the photo of the lawn, above, as seen on the left).
Landscape Japanese maple (red) and Kousa dogwood (foreground)
And THIS...was my neighborhood that same day! What a difference a week makes in nature!
Neighborhood color explosion, April 20, 2015
I can't wait for my azaleas to bloom, which should be in the next couple weeks (a later blooming variety). It's a whiteout - the only kind I like.

I always find it interesting to read other bloggers' garden progressions in the various zones. What's blooming in your garden right now?

 Want more on gardening? Just type 'landscape' or 'garden' in the search field above my profile picture and more posts should appear. Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Kathy of A Delightsome Life for featuring this post at her Home and Garden party).
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