Never in the 44 years of living in Alaska have I had a garden party the first weekend of April, and there we were, with margaritas no less. Amazing.
There has been a lot to think about the past two weeks. For instance: A friend pointed out that never ever in all her years in the Far North has she had to consider an outdoor seating arrangement in the shade. Now there is food for thought.
It isn’t all that unusual to have five inches of new snow on the first day of spring. There are two ways to cope: either pragmatically or emotionally. I chose to make waffles which I think falls somewhere in-between. John, sensing an indoor tempest, stoked the fire, made me tea, said almost all the right things and then left. Hmmm.
There is nothing that irritates me more than the month of March. Well, national politics but that’s only this year. March springs eternal.
So here it is Sunday evening at elevation 396 feet. I spent the afternoon shaking almost two feet of wet, heavy snow off shrubs. I know, I should have been wearing a hair shirt. This activity felt like penance for loving challenging kinds of ornamental plants.
But love them I do, and shake off the snow I will. The snow has turned to rain and the branches will probably break without my attention. Not on my watch.
This column is being written on Super Bowl Sunday. Taking into consideration that it would be impossible for me to care less about football I decided to address the mock orange that has graced the west corner of the house for about 15 years. I have yet to prune it. The other two have been pruned but this particular one of the trio is so magnificent that I have had pruning fear. Until last year. It did not bloom with gusto. This is a clear indication that something needed to be done. Also, the inside of the shrub was mostly dead wood.
Never ever have I had a garden take such a leisurely farewell. Well, maybe last year’s. Maybe I need to get used to leisurely.
Most of the annuals are still blooming, granted they are on their last hurrah. The foxgloves (Foxy) are blooming again after being deadheaded weeks ago. The James McFarland lilac’s second round of blooms are going to seed. Usually they don’t bloom all of the way out let alone go to seed. Interesting.
John and I took a lovely walk on the logging roads accessed off Knob Hill. Used now by hunters, they quickly diminish to four wheeler tracks.
We took advantage of a beautiful day and one just before hunting season opened. Hunters can make their way to the Caribou Hills through here and better hunting opportunities. The logged land has regrown with grass, not exactly moose browse, so the habitat has changed markedly.
But what did I see?
I’ve been doing a lot of looking around this week, looking to see what is still in bloom, lots actually. At first I was skeptical that anything much is still hanging in there. That the plants had such an early start and bloomed their hearts out and that would be that.
ho would have thought that I would have to spend a chunk of August in Detroit? That’s right, Detroit. Of all places. Detroit. May this never happen to me again.
My, but I have been having fun this week. I needed to contact Janice Chumley, the integrated pest management technician at the Cooperative Extension Service office in Soldotna, not once but twice.
And here’s why: I noticed a very white woolly substance on a branch of one of the tatarian honeysuckles. I took a picture and sent it to Janice who quickly responded with questions. So I slipped a Ziplok bag over it, cut it off and mailed it to her.
Jade the Dog hunts red-backed voles in the perennial beds. Mayhem. Destruction. Fewer red-backed voles.
What a trade-off.
The vegetable garden is interesting this season. I thought this wonderful weather would be the answer to my ambitions. But “things” are strange. The Romanesque cauliflower did not make a head, just a huge central stalk. I finally accepted the inevitable and composted the whole lot. What a disappointment.
The mere mention of Impressionist painter Claude Monet brings forth, in many minds, stunningly beautiful pieces of art that capture the colors, textures, emotions, even the fragrances, which emanated from his exquisite gardens.
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece,” he said.
It’s the best: three “grands” old enough to entrust with scissors and willing to go forth and cut slugs in half. This is akin to a dream come true.
I met a soon-to-be retired couple this afternoon. They are moving to Homer from Anchorage and building a new house. And one of the big questions is “how much garden?” She has a practical nature and recognizes that regenerating the disturbed soil will be a challenge. The consideration of strewing lupine seed is an option as is doing nothing.
Yikes. I was in Bellingham for six days. I thought that six days wouldn’t be significant. That my garden wouldn’t miss me. Wrong.
People, you need to do mindful watering. You need to look at your plants. You need to assess their needs. You need to THINK.
I’ve been fussing around with the delphiniums. Now is the time to stake these beauties, now — before they bloom and the wind tears into them and they topple into a soggy heap, all that gorgeousness for naught.
Don’t let this happen to yours.
his gardening season is off and running. Here at elevation 396 feet, I have the entire vegetable garden planted; all of the annuals have found homes; perennials are divided; and everything is looking hale and hardy. There, whew.
Busy. This is the point in the gardening season that so much happens at once. We have had a long spring, very unusual, and the extra days have been a boon to say the least. Nevertheless, there is much to be done. For those of you with a career and/or families now is the time to pick your battles. Prioritize. Make a list. Do whatever it takes to make your gardening experience a positive one.
O, the wonder of bulbs. Over the years I have been reluctant to invest in them. There are too many variables that can lead to failure. Voles eating them and rain rotting them are a couple that pop into mind.
Thus, I have avoided them, until recently. Over the past few years I have been inclined to stick a few of this and that here and there. Once again, my lack of interest in garden design manifests itself. But what can go wrong? Nothing.
It WILL snow. Do not fear it. Our environment needs water and snow is one way to get it. However much we get won’t last long. Think of it as adding nitrogen to the soil. Think of it as a plus. Or don’t think about it at all.
The greenhouse is providing sufficient shelter for the tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and green beans that will live in there all season. The other crops are all seeded and planning on spending the next six weeks or so nicely tucked in. They will be coddled until they meet the truth of a Far North summer.