The crescendo is beginning to build. The peonies are loaded with buds, the camassia just started to unfurl yesterday, many of the clematis are already 3-4′ tall…in another couple of weeks, the June flowering will begin. It’s my favorite time in the garden.
Lots of work to get done between now and then, if we can catch a break between rain showers. I’ve done very little direct seeding in the vegetable garden and I’ve only managed to edge, weed and plant some seedlings into a couple of the borders with another 12+ borders remaining. I still have salvia and dianthus seedlings, dahlia plants and 4 crates of dahlia tubers to get into the ground.
Memorial weekend is usually my first big gardening weekend, but as of now, we’re looking at a dry Saturday, but rain on Friday, Sunday and Monday.
But the rain has spurred quick growth in the garden. Some photos of blooms above and below.
The rain had stopped by the time I arrived home after work. I was happy to have the rain after a weekend of planting dahlias, containers, and seedlings in the vegetable garden (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and sweet peas). It was a gentle, constant rain much of the day and the garden always benefits.
But… there’s always the “but” with gardeners…but the rain also benefits the weeds, dandelions, and grass that are running rampant through my borders right now. I know I’m not really “behind” since we’ve barely passed the last frost date, but I feel very behind.
So, as I was bemoaning how much work there was to do in the garden and how I couldn’t get to it with all the rain in the forecast for this week, Nora swooped in to the rescue – as she so often does – and grabbed the camera, and me, and forced a garden walk-about.
The tulips have gone over for the most part and are quickly passing into the spent, ugly phase. I will have to get to them this weekend to cut back the stems. But I allow the foliage to remain until yellowed to put some energy back into the bulbs for next year’s performance.
However, the perennials have really shot up. The alliums are half open and the camassia lilies are on the cusp.
But we did manage to find a few others in full bloom (see below).
As spring continues to warm, breathing life into the foliage and blossoms, the birds and other wildlife are becoming more active around the house.
We spotted two types of birds that we’ve never before seen on the property, the Eastern Kingbird and the Eastern Phoebe, and even saw a coyote trotting down the side of the road early yesterday morning before it ducked into the trees surrounding our “logging” road.
The Eastern Phoebe has taken up residence in the sheep barn, building her nest atop one of the lights in the rafters. When she first moved in, she would fly out of the barn every morning and evening when I would approach to take care of the sheep.
Now she just sits in her nest, like a little queen on her throne, and glares down at me as I move about mucking out the barn and cleaning water troughs.
Nora also spotted the first hummingbird on Saturday (above), flitting between the partially opened alliums. She also spent a half hour stalking our pair of tree swallows and captured some good shots (see below).
Quite a few changes in the garden between the time I left on vacation the 3rd week in April and yesterday. We had torrential rains while I was away, leaving many of the borders and much of the lawn under inches of water. We had a fairly rainy weekend as well, but softer showers which were able to seep into the ground as quickly as it arrived leaving everything green and sparkling with rain drops.
Despite the rather wet weekend, I was able to get a little planting done in the vegetable garden. Another 50 or so walla walla sets went in, as did the first planting of carrots and beets, into the raised beds. The regular beds are still too soaked to plant. The week is looking dry and warm however, so hope to get the lettuces, kale, chard and a few other types of seeds planted. I’m feeling a couple of weeks behind due to the trip.
I was able to get a little spot weeding done in some of the flower borders. I also bought and planted 3 Japanese Willows (Salix integra ‘Hakaro Nishiki’), two in the front yard and one in the back next to the gazebo, and a Gold Thread Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’) in the rock garden. Picked the first rhubarb of the season on Saturday, and we’ve been cutting asparagus since we returned; looks like a banner crop this year.
The majority of yesterday, however, was spent planting out 20+ containers. I still have another 7 to fill, but ran out of annuals. I feel another trip to the nursery coming on! Sadly it will have to wait until after work today. Alas, Monday has arrived…
Here are a few other photos, taken yesterday, of what’s blooming in the garden.
As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. The garden started to awaken in my absence (weeds included, of course, and I won’t even discuss what the edges look like).
Unfortunately, many of the borders are also under water thanks to the endless rain, but better rain than drought!
Looking ahead in this week’s forecast, it appears we should have 4-5 dry days, so hopefully that will give the water time to seep into the ground.
We’re also anticipating 3 overnights at or below 32 degrees, so no rush to get things in the ground yet. I just hope the freeze doesn’t damage the fruit blossoms and certain perennials, such as the hosta and peonies, that have already shot up a fair amount of growth.
Apologies for the two week hiatus, but I was off enjoying my time in Ireland. What a marvelous, magical country; if I didn’t have dogs and farm animals to return to, I seriously would have considered staying there!
We started our journey in Dublin and traveled clockwise around the island stopping in Enniskerry, the Wicklow Mountains, Kilkenny, Kilarney, Tralee, Ballyvaughn, Galway, the Connemara region and then back to Dublin.
Of course we stopped to visit several gardens on our travels: Powerscourt Gardens (Enniskerry), Muckross Gardens (Kilarney), and the Victorian Walled Garden at Kylemore Abbey (Connemara) made it onto the list.
Powerscourt — Part of Powerscourt Estate, a large country estate occupying more than 47 acres, the gardens were designed in 1731 and onward with the intent to create a garden that blended into the landscape beyond. They certainly succeeded on that front!
Today, Powerscourt Gardens includes the Walled Garden, the Italian Garden (portion of it above), the dolphin pond (immediately below), the Japanese Garden, and the Rhododendron walk.
Muckross House and Gardens — this was my personal favorite. The house was built in the 19th century and overlooks Muckross Lake.
In the 1850s, the gardens were installed over the course of 6 years in preparation for the scheduled visit of Queen Victoria. Future owners of the estate continued to add to the gardens. Today, it consists, in part, of a walled garden, rock garden, sunken garden, rhododendron walk, and stream garden.
Victorian Walled Garden (Kylemore Abbey) — the history of Kylemore Abbey is fascinating in and of itself, but too much to go into here. But in 1920, the estate was purchased by a group of Benedictine nuns fleeing from their abbey in war-torn Belgium. They re-opened their girl’s boarding school on-site, which just closed in 2010. They also undertook the restoration of the Victorian Walled Garden, which at that point was completely overrun by brambles and trees, back in the late 1990s with the help of some grants from Ireland.
The nuns still live in the abbey, but visitors are allowed to tour select rooms on the ground floor of the abbey, the Neo-Gothic Church (or “Cathedral in Miniature” as it is called) which was built by Mitchell Henry for his deceased wife, Margaret, and the gardens. Comprising roughly 6 acres, the gardens are divided by a mountain stream. The eastern half contains the formal flower garden, the glass houses, and the head gardener’s house.
The western half includes the vegetable garden, the herbaceous border, fruit trees, and a herb garden.
Connemara is a rather mountainous region, so you can see the steep incline of the garden. I’d hate to be the gardener responsible for pushing the wheelbarrows up that slope!
Lastly, it wasn’t a formal garden, but we spent one night at Gregan’s Castle Hotel in Ballyvaughn. It was surrounded by an adorable, little garden and looked out at the Burren (a geological wonder created by glaciation leaving a barren, limestone pavement that extends for miles) in the distance. The view was spectacular! A story is told that Tolkien used to stay at this hotel and that the Burren served as his inspiration for the land of Mordor.