Sunday, February 22, 2015

Capital Crepe Murder and Other Winter Garden Sightings

February is a good time to get outside, in the garden, and survey what's going on (if you're not snowed under), see what might be showing early signs of spring, what looks dead, and what needs pruned. We won't talk about what needs chased away this time of year, but it has something to do with flocks of Canadian geese that think our river property is ideal for mating and growing the gaggle.

February is also the time for Southern Living's Grumpy Gardener's (aka Steve Bender) annual Crepe Murder contest. It's a shameless display of the worst of the worst in this southern specimen's owners' most ugly chop pruning jobs via email submittals and Grumpy's judgment. The winners receive a copy of the The New Annual Southern Living Garden Book. This is my first-time submittal, titled, "Capital Crepe Murder 2015".
Capital Crepe Murder 2015
Those are not my crepe myrtles, but I suppose if I had them, mine would probably look very similar after pruning.  These guys look like they're raising their fists to the sky, screaming, "why'd you do that to us?!!", don't they, lol? That's our state capitol building in the background, and this property is a neighbor's, along our walk path. It's all in fun, and it's Grumpy's way of avenging the plants' bad haircuts.

A walk through my own garden on a couple of warm, sunny days the first week of February (2015) has, indeed, provided glimpses into the Spring weather to come - soon!
Annual beds of pansies, with perennial daffodil bulbs inching their way out of the ground.
Although my pansies (above) look pretty downtrodden after a few weeks of really cold weather, a couple light dustings of snow, the warmth perks them up, and also nudges the daffodil bulbs to inch their way a little further out of the soil. These are King Alfred variety, nice and tall, in a mass planting that will be my first spring blooms.

Screeeech:  We interrupt this post for a snowstorm that occurred February 16, 2015. Photo below taken hours before the final, 10" accumulation, followed by week-long, frigid temps, with power outages and sleet at week's end.
Winter snowstorm, mid-February
We now take you back to the interrupted post previously in progress.
Speaking of first blooms, I spotted this one in the neighborhood the weekend of February 7-8, but you have to look really hard to see it. It's there, in the center of the spotlight in the upper, left corner - the first crocus! Mr. Rock by the Tree is happy, and so was I!

Front garden winter screen
Red twig dogwood and nandina (above) provide year-round interest in the garden.  The azaleas just in front of the nandina will bloom sometime in April in my region. The nandina can be invasive, and I have to stay on top of pulling and/or digging shoots to keep them from overtaking the azaleas and anything else that gets in their way.
Back garden landscape
The photo above is a view of the back landscape in winter, taken from a second story window in the house.  You can see another nandina plant I transplanted in the back corner for some additional winter interest, and a few patches of promising green candytufts I planted last spring within the right side of the picture view. Beside the flag are my hydrangea bushes, which are already showing their buds of blooms to come. The benches are gliders, and they're pretty much on their last legs, literally.
Hydrangeas, old and new growth (with buds)
A closer view of the hydrangea shows where they were pruned hard a year ago. Although they grew nice and full last year, no blooms came, as expected. This year should yield a good display, fingers crossed.
Iris patch
This will be my third year of iris blooms, received from a friend, and they're also showing signs of rebirth in the photo above. The few in back of the small fence piece were newly planted last year. I'm mixing yellow with purple - two of my favorite color combos in the garden.
Poppy sprouts
Barely visible, yet hopeful for success this year is my attempt at planting poppies. My sister had given me seeds from her plants in fall 2013, but they didn't make it through the bitter winter of 2014. So, last year, she let me dig a few starter plants after they bloomed in spring, and I planted them, hoping to see them take off this year. What green you do see in the center of the photo above are the signs of viable poppy plants to come.
Germinating lemon seeds
Speaking of seeds, I am at the beginning stages of a new planting experiment - growing my own lemon plant(s). I don't necessarily expect lemon trees with fruit - although that would be nirvana for me - but I understand the leaves of the plants are amazing in and of themselves for their fragrance. I'll let you know how it goes. It was a tedious process already, so they better "GROW, dammit!" (that's me, lovingly yelling talking to my plant seeds).

Last but not least - do you remember this Succulent Orb Experiment that I nailed (hahaha!) from a Pinterest-inspired photo last June (2014)?
Well, I promised an update on that experiment to readers. Keep in mind, when I bought my starters, succulents, in general, were a) not easy to find and b) expensive. Seems the Pinterest demand drove up the price, and chicks and hens, the most logical choice, were not available - at least not for my ready and impatient self at the time.
The photo above was taken mid-January, seven months after the initial planting. Look at those wild and crazy plants! NOT your typical orb variety succulents, wouldn't you agree?!
Here's another shot of what the specimens looked like back in June 2014 (above, bargain priced - I should've suspected). The idea was to have a nice and tight orb, not some outer space looking monster that looks like it wants to eat you. My intention was to later plant the flip side of the orb with my leftover container specimens, but I'm afraid if I flip my orb as it looks now, the sky will be falling, if you know what I mean. So, once it warms up for good, I'll see what I can do - maybe pin some of the trailers, pull a few of the plants and try to source some chicks and hens succulents (sooner than June) to fill in the gaps.
Succulent in Winter - Sunroom
Houseplants are so much needier than landscape plants, I may just decide I'm too busy in retirement to go on with this nonsense. I'll keep you posted.

So, what's in your garden?  Snow? Blooms? Buds? [Crepe] Murder? I'd love for you to share your dirt with me!

NOTE:  I am fully aware of the spelling I chose for crepe myrtle. Here's an interesting link on the debate as to the correct spelling: "Is it Crape Myrtle or Crepe Myrtle?"
Rita C. at Panoply
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