Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April the Idiot

“April comes in like an idiot,
babbling and strewing flowers.”
–Edna St. Vincent Millay

Well, I’m not sure it’s so idiotic, but April certainly is strewing flowers! Or, if not flowers, then lots of shoots that will eventually bloom. Here are some of the pleasant surprises in my garden beds lately.

The hyacinths are nicely budded out…
Hyacinth 'Ostara'
The ‘Pink Giant’ Chionodoxa (a gift from my friend Stephanie for a certain BIG birthday) are just about ready to go…
Chionodoxa 'Pink Giant'
And the ‘Ice Follies’ Daffodils have been going strong for a while now.
Narcissus 'Ice Follies'
Hooray! Mr. Squirrel did NOT find all of my lily bulbs. It looks like most of them are coming back, except for a couple I was pretty sure he had carted home for dinner.
I am also breathing a sigh of relief over Ligularia ‘The Rocket.’
Ligularia 'The Rocket'
I had planted one of these in the same spot a couple of years ago (the only part of my yard that is moist enough for it), but it did not survive the winter. This time, I mounded soil over the crown for a little extra protection, and it looks like it worked! It’s hard to believe these tiny little leaves will soon be several inches across.

Aquilegia seedlings are bursting forth everywhere, mostly because I helped with some of the “strewing” in this case.
Aquilegia seedlings
I hope these will look like their dearly departed mother, Aquilegia ‘Cardinal.’ She was a real beauty.
Aquilegia 'Cardinal'
But Columbines are notoriously promiscuous in their cross-breeding. With my luck, the babies will all take after the common blue variety from the other side of the yard.

Perhaps my greatest thrill (doesn’t take much for us gardeners, does it?) was finding these poppy seedlings—about 16 at last count.
Shirley Poppy seedlings
I’ve been trying to establish a patch of poppies in my garden since we moved here almost five years ago, but with no luck. Mr. BrownThumb suggested scattering the seed over the ground in February (even over snow, if need be). I had dutifully been planting them after the last frost, as suggested on the seed package. (For the record, I recently did an informal survey of poppy packets in three different garden centers. Only one suggested planting them during the winter.) Thanks, Mr. BT! It looks like it worked!

Now I’m just crossing my fingers that they will come out the right color. They’re supposed to be Shirley poppies—nice soft pinks, reds, salmons, and whites. The last time I got this variety to grow, all but one came out bright orange, and I don’t do much orange in my gardens. I ripped them all out (after they bloomed but before they set seed) except the one pink one, and of course it didn’t multiply. Maybe I cursed myself to several years of bad poppy karma?

Yes, there are lots of pleasant new developments in the garden every time I venture outside during this idiotic, flower-strewing month. But there are a few less-pleasant developments as well…
I guess these devilish not-so-dandy-lions were bound to show up sooner or later. But did it have to be so early? And right where I just mulched to prevent them?

I’m also disappointed that no tulips are blooming yet. Yesterday, I pulled out my garden journals from 2005 and 2006 (the last years I tried keeping a journal: in both cases I started out with a bang, then quit by the end of June). Back then, my species tulips were blooming away by now. This year, the buds are just beginning to emerge. I’m not sure what to attribute the difference to, but I am certain they will soon add their rainbow splashes of color to the landscape.

And then, no doubt, I will be the one babbling and gushing over them like an idiot.


  1. Very nice, I have more weeds than flowers in my garden! And if you want to keep those squirrels from eating your bulbs sprinkle some orange oil on it, (the kind you use to bake with) they hate the smell of oranges.

  2. Hi Donna! I am glad April is behaving in your garden! As for me... It was hailing and snowing two days ago... So, I could call it id... but I won't, not to make it angry...

  3. Hi, Cathy--sorry to hear about your weed take-over. Hope you are able to get the upper hand soon! And thanks for the orange oil tip. I'll have to try that.

    Hail and snow, Tatyana! I am so sorry! You are wise not to taunt the weather/gardening know what happened with me and the poppies. I think they've finally forgiven me, at least.

  4. Don't you just love seeing all those green sprouts. I love how the lilies look when they first come through the ground, glad your squirrel left some for you! The daffodils look great!

  5. Pretty daffodils! I can't believe you have a flowering dandelion already!

  6. Pretty daffodils! I cannot believe you have a flowering dandelion already.

  7. The weather is a major factor in when plants will bloom and I think the particularly cold winter is slowing down your tulips. My lilac bushes are usually in full bloom by April 15th (my husband's birthday). This year, they're still eensy weensy little bud-lings.

    Interestingly, In February I sowed a packet of pink California poppy and for the first time, they're up and growing. Timing seems to be a huge factor. Good luck with your new poppies. It's time for some GOOD karma. :)

  8. Thanks, Catherine. Yes it is exciting to see all the green coming up. Once they get started, there's no stopping them!

    Hi, Stacy--It won't be long now before the field behind us is solid yellow with dandelions. Then all those fluffy little seed-paratroopers will float into our yard. The best I can hope to do is minimize the damage. Hope April is treating you well!

    Hi, Grace--I think you're right about the cold winter. Everything seems to be in slo-o-o-w motion this year. I look forward to seeing some pix of your pink poppies and lilacs when they finally burst forth!

  9. I think this year spring is a bit colder than normal. In 2007, it was too warm way to early & everything started doing its thing much earlier.
    Pink Chionodoxa are so unusual. I really like them. I'm glad the stupid squirrel didn't get all your Lilies. Even with spray repellent, a bushy-tailed pig chomped off the top of one, then apparently spit it out.

  10. Hi, MMD--Spring sure does keep us guessing around here, doesn't it? One species tulip finally bloomed today, but it's a teeny little flower compared to past years. Disappointing--I hope they're not all that way. Even my rhododendron buds don't seem quite as plump as usual. Sorry to hear about your decapitated lily. Too bad the "pig" couldn't figure out he didn't like it BEFORE he bit. The Chionodoxa are starting to bloom today. I'll have to post a photo before too long.

  11. Spring is so much fun, isn't it? Full of suprises.
    Good luck with the poppies. I hope those orange ones aren't glowering down from poppy heaven, putting a pox on your pinks.

  12. Hi Donna, You really are behind us here in VA. Wow, I didn't realize how much further behind the bloom season really is! Well, I 'knew' it, intellectually...because I have lived in colder climes (ie: Ohio, Indiana, PA, NY and Maine)...but I've been enjoying our spring-ier weather and forgot how you are still 'waiting, waiting and waiting'!! What you do have looks great. Every little bit of green coming up through the ground is exciting, and when a color appears on it's tip, it's even more of a thrill!!

  13. Thanks, Penny--the funny thing is that the orange poppies were my favorite flower for many years, and I still really like them. Orange just doesn't go well with the burgundy doors and shutters on our house. How's that for a silly reason to pull up a perfectly good plant?

    Yes, Jan, we really are behind you folks. I look at blogs from your area, as well as from the northwest, and feel like I'm reporting old news! It's still thrilling though, just as you say. We've had a lot of rain the last couple of days and I can't believe how much things have grown in that short time!

  14. Hi Donna,

    I know what you mean about those columbines. I started with a purple variety and this year I've got a purple variety with some white petals. I should remove the pollen sacks before they do any more crossing happens.

  15. Hi Donna, just stopped by to say hi;-) Hope May is treating you, and your garden, well! Jan

  16. Well, if I could have such lovely flowers, I'd be babbling like an idiot too! Those hyacinths (?) in the first photo are gorgeous to these tropical eyes. So are the daffodils!


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