bibliophile, gardening, vintage

Sweet April Showers…

“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers,” wrote Thomas Tusser in 1557.

“When April steps aside for May, like diamonds all the rain-drops glisten; Fresh violets open every day: To some new bird each hour we listen,” penned Lucy Larcom.

If the earth does indeed laugh in flowers, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, it surely must be May that binds poetry and botany forever together.

“May and June. Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year…”~ Peter Loewer

stock in pottery

“The May-pole is up, now give me the cup; I’ll drink to the garlands around it; But first unto those whose hands did compose the glory of flowers that crown’d it.” ~ Robert Herrick, The Maypole

tea may with book

Come take a tour of the melodious garden, located in zone 8a, southern Denton County, Texas, and see what is blooming this first day of May, 2018.

“Horticulturally, the month of May is opening night, homecoming and graduation day all rolled into one.” ~ Tam Mossman

clematis

This deep purple clematis is always a show-stopper. And a reminder that I simply must plant more! While many vines are aggressive overachievers (I am talking to you, trumpet vine!), most varieties of clematis are well-behaved and grow lightly over rose branches or trellis.

“Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.” ~ Virgil

winecup1

Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata) are a native wildflower that rivals the best patch of bluebonnets, in my honest opinion. It grows from a rhizome, with foliage branching out along the ground. The hot magenta flowers (shaped like… wine cups!) attract bees and butterflies. It is extremely drought tolerant and slowly reseeds in the garden. I thin out the older rhizomes when the Wine Cups have finished blooming, then I thin out a few more so I can share this beautiful flower with fellow gardeners.

“Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses…” George Herbert

green ice rose

Green Ice, a unique miniature rose, is one of the few roses in my garden that survived the plague that is Rose Rosette Virus. I am not sure why or how not one, but two! Green Ice roses survived when the other roses in the area were infected. Miniature roses are not known to be exceptionally hardy, after all. But here they are. Beautiful. The white blooms will take on a greenish cast over the next few weeks, hence its name. Green. Ice.

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” Edwin Way Teale

winecup and green icie

The photo above shows the mini rose Green Ice with Wine Cups scrambling through its branches. Wine Cups do not smother out other plants, in my experience.

“Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

poppy

Ah. One lone poppy. I have no idea why, but after years of not growing in my garden, I had one lone poppy pop up this year. It is a stunner, isn’t it?

“A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king.” ~ Emily Dickinson

penstemon

I love plants that reseed here and there. Above is Penstemon tenuis, the perfect reseeding perennial. Tough as nails, not aggressive, lovely shade of lavender. What more could one ask for? Well, it also makes a great cut flower. I do not dead-head this plant when it is done flowering. Rather, I let the seed pods dry completely on the plant, then I cut them way back and cast the seed heads here and there, wherever I would like to see it spread. On-site composting and super easy seed sowing all in one.

“O the month of May, the merry month of May, so frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!” ~ Thomas Dekker

hosta

I love the greenness that hostas add to the garden. While flowers are lovely, sometimes green – different shades of green, different textures of green – are a welcome relief to the riot of color that is spring. The above hosta, Curly Fries, has been a great container plant in my garden, nestled back into my one shady spot.

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring. Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?” ~ Edward Giobbi

amarylis

And who can resist a shot of bright red on the first day of May? Hippeastrum (amaryllis) is a great addition to any southern garden. It is often dug up, divided and passed along to others after it is done blooming.

“Sweet May hath come to love us, flowers, trees, their blossoms don’ and through the blue heavens above us the very clouds move on.” ~ Heinrich Heine, Book of Songs

veilchenblau

While there is no such thing as a blue rose, Veilchenblau may come closest of all. This is another RRV survivor in my garden. A rambling old rose, its blooms start out crimson colored, then fade out to the above colored grayish mauve. While it only blooms in the spring, it is worth the garden space!

“Among the changing months, May stands confest the sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed.” ~ James Thomson, On May

winecup and mallow

As I was contemplating my RRV devastated garden a few years back and wondering how I would ever be able to garden again, something hit me. Orange. Bright orange! Gone are the soft pinks of my dear antique roses. I am now playing more with colors and adding in splashes of oranges, yellows and reds. Above, Munro’s Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) blooms happily alongside Wine Cups.

“Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun.” Kahlil Gibran

dandelion

I couldn’t resist. She was blooming in my garden today and I just could not overlook her. The dandelion. The lowly dandelion. Why it has that reputation, I do not know. Please, please leave dandelions in your garden. They are an important source of nectar for honeybees!

bibliophile, gardening, nature

The Praying Mantis

In the insect world, there are good bugs and there are bad bugs. And then there is the praying mantis. The indiscriminate hunter. The dinosaur of the insect world. The hunter and the hunted. Both intriguing and deadly.

Watching a praying mantis stalk its prey feels a bit like Jurassic Park. They will sit still, waiting the perfect moment to ambush the unexpecting. Insect. Lizard. Small bird. They don’t care. They will take down a nasty grasshopper just as easily as a beautiful butterfly or a beneficial honeybee. They are carnivores, eating meat instead of vegetation like many garden insects. The mantis: both good bug and bad bug. All in one fascinating package.

Mary Ann, a child’s picture book by Betsy James, was a favorite at our home when my son was young.

elf on mantis 2

Amy, sad that her best friend Mary Ann moved away, told her daddy that she wished there were hundreds and hundreds of Mary Anns. “Then if one ever moves away, it wouldn’t matter,” she says. When Amy finds a praying mantis in her clubhouse, she names the mantis Mary Ann and puts the mantis in a terrarium inside their home. Every day the mantis gets larger and larger, until one day, “when summer was over, she pushed a ball of foam out of her tail, onto a fern stem.” This foam hardens, thus protecting the eggs inside. Mary Ann, the mantis, passes away after laying her eggs, as often happens in the insect world. Time passes, and the lid falls off the terrarium. Then.. one day… the family returns home to find…the egg has hatched!

“Look at all the Mary Anns!”

Hundreds and hundreds of Mary Anns.

mantis2

Mary Anns in the teacups. Mary Anns on the toaster and the telephone, under the soap, behind the vegetables! Mary Anns all over the house! “I had hundreds and hundreds of Mary Anns,” the excited girl in the story exclaims!

And such it is when a praying mantis egg hatches. A small hard foamy egg about the diameter of a quarter, home to hundreds of babies!

mantis5

The babies, about the size of half a grain of rice, emerge in bunches, by the hundreds.

mantis1

It is an amazing sight to behold.

The female mantis lays one egg case in the fall – a foamy capsule, generally attached to a small stem or branch. She then dies. Come spring, the egg case hatches.

Praying mantis egg cases may be purchased from science supply companies, online garden sources or at some local nurseries. Place the egg case in a (well!) covered terrarium (so you don’t have Mary Anns in your teacups!)  Make sure the terrarium is out of direct sunlight! And then…wait patiently…ever so patiently…until one day you will notice – movement! The egg case is…covered…with itty bitty baby praying mantis.

There are around 2,000 species of mantis around the world. Depending on the species, one praying mantis may lay up to 400 eggs.

mantis4

The praying mantis has an incomplete metamorphosis, meaning that the nymph (young insect) that emerges looks like a mini replica of the adult praying mantis. Triangular head. Bulging compound eyes. Elongated body. Large forelegs, perfectly adapted for catching prey.

elf on mantis 3

Fierce hunter, right from the beginning. Once hatched, the terrarium lid needs to be removed so the mantis can scatter. They are hungry and ready to eat immediately and, if not able to find other food, they will turn cannibal.

praying mantis

Insects that go through incomplete metamorphosis have three stages of life – egg, nymph and adult. They will shed their hard exoskeleton as they grow, molting, discarding one exoskeleton for another, several times throughout their short lives. Most of the praying mantis species in our country grow to about three inches in length.

Never pick up a praying mantis, as they are easily injured. However, you can place your hand near them and they will walk onto you. No need to worry about being bit.

Whether they are beneficial to an organic garden or not is debatable, but hatching a mantis egg is a fun spring-time science experiment for children – of all ages!

elf on praying mantis

gardening, herbal fare

If you give a friend some eggs…

…with apologizes to the mouse and the boy who let him in the house…

If you give a friend some eggs,

eggs6

she is going to ask for some milk and cream. When she gets some milk and cream, she will probably ask for some sugar. When she gets the sugar, she will likely need some flour. Then she will want an iPad so she can search for some recipes. When she looks on Pintrest, she might realize that she also needs some strawberries and vanilla. She will probably ask for a whisk. When she is finished baking,

german pancake

she will want a broom to sweep up her mess. She will start sweeping. She might get carried away and sweep every room in the…Oh, who are we kidding? She would never get carried away sweeping. Especially in the spring when she has raking to do yet.

When she is done sweeping, she will probably want a nap. You will need to make up the couch with her favorite blankie and pillow. She will lay down and make herself comfortable and call for her puppy. She will probably ask you to read them a story…

“Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator: Edible essays on city farming” might be the perfect book on such a day.

strawberry cafoutis

While our urban town has allowed chickens for the past few years, I still have not taken the urban chicken plunge. I don’t know why exactly, except that my life already seems overrun with animals. Two indoor cats. One puppy. A large garden that seems to attract every wild animal for miles around.

Recently a dear friend gave me a dozen eggs from her own urban chickens. What to do with them? How best to use a dozen fresh eggs? The first recipe was easy to chose, as I have long wanted to make the French dessert, clafoutis. Alas, I used strawberries instead of the usual cherries, which makes the dish a flaugnarde instead of a clafoutis. I like the word clafoutis best, so I am sticking with that. Either way, it is an egg-rich dish, much like crepe batter but baked in the oven instead of the stovetop one by one. The next dish – mini German pancakes – baked in muffin tins. Topped with strawberries and blood orange segments (above, on red and white plate), these will be good for breakfast or a quick snack.

egg shells

Look at these beautiful eggshells! They are almost too pretty to compost.

Eggshells have many garden applications and can be used directly in the garden. Just crush the shells. Scattered around your tomato plants, eggshells – high in calcium – can help to prevent blossom end rot in the ripening fruit. Scattered around hostas, the rough edges can ward off slugs and snails. Crushed eggshells can also be added to your birdfeeders in the spring, as female birds need extra calcium during nesting season.

bibliophile, gardening

If ever there was a spring day so perfect…

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

… … … part of Billy Collins’ poem Today

 

First day of spring blooms, North Texas, zone 8a

Dutch iris, below

dutch iris

I feel a bit like Bubba in Forrest Gump… You got your bearded iris, your reticulata iris, Dutch iris, Louisiana iris, Japanese iris, Siberian iris… some are bulbous irises, some are rhizome irises… some are bearded, some are beardless… Someday I will blog about the different irises that grow well in this area.
For now: Dutch irises are perennial, grown from a bulb planted in the fall.

And now… daffodils, the harbinger of spring…
I love the shadow cast by these daffodils, below.

daffodils 2

“When the winds of March are wakening the crocuses and crickets,
Did you ever find a fairy near some budding little thickets,…
And when she sees you creeping up to get a closer peek
She tumbles through the daffodils, a playing hide and seek.”
~Marjorie Barrows

A happy little clump of daffodils, below.

daffodils 1

Leucojum, pictured below. If you ever need proof that fairies dance in the garden, this is it. Just look at that little green dot, along the scalloped blossom.

“And as the seasons come and go, here’s something you might like to know. There are fairies everywhere: under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day. So listen, touch, and look around — in the air and on the ground. And if you watch all nature’s things, you might just see a fairy’s wing.” ~Author Unknown

lecojium

I know. We aren’t suppose to believe in fairies past a certain age…

“Every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” ~James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan

Hyacinth, below.

hyacinth

The above bulbs are all planted in the fall for spring blooms. Make a note now of any bulbs you see and like. Mail order catalogs will start taking orders in late summer for fall shipment. Garden centers will receive bulbs in early fall, but hold off on planting until Thanksgiving.

Now, for some spring blooming shrubs…

Shrubs can be planted year-round in North Texas, just know that all new plantings (even many Texas natives) require frequent watering until they get established. Garden centers generally have their best selection of shrubs in the spring, though some also receive fall shipments.

Bridal wreath spirea, below.

bridal wreath spirea

And loropetalum, aka fringe flower. Please, please don’t prune these into round balls or square cubes. They look best when allowed to grow naturally. Loropetalum are evergreen.

fringe flower

Cherry laurel. While I didn’t capture any honeybees in this photo, the shrub was buzzing with life. It is also evergreen.

cherry laurel

Sigh… My bright orange tulips are done blooming, but I had to include a photo anyway. Because. Pollen! Just look at all that pollen!

tulip
“If we opened our minds to enjoyment, we might find tranquil pleasures spread about us on every side. We might live with the angels that visit us on every sunbeam, and sit with the fairies who wait on every flower.” ~Samuel Smiles

gardening

the melodious garden’s garden mascot

It has been brought to my attention that I have been negligent in introducing the melodious garden’s new garden mascot.

THE Garden Mascot.

The Great Ravioli Thief.

The Ferocious Rabbit Chaser. (Thankfully, so far Unsuccessful Ferocious Rabbit Chaser! Though she seems to have driven our resident wild rabbits on to another garden, which is successful enough for me!)

Catcher of Crane Flies.

The Official Hole Digger.

So, without further ado…

leia 2

Leia… Princess Leia. (Er… ignore that spot of dirt hanging from her mouth. See above mentioned title Official Hole Digger. She was, um, digging right before I snapped her picture…)

Leia was adopted from Humane Tomorrow just a few days before Christmas. We were told she is a PBGV/dachshund mix. (PBGV is short for… Petite Brussels Griffon Verdeen. Yeah. We weren’t familiar with that, either.)

I call her my little platypus… Her tricolor coat looks beagle-ish. Her coat texture looks wire hair fox terrier-ish. She stands like a Welsh corgi. Her ears? No clue, aside from adorable!

leia 3

One ear goes up.

One ear goes down.

Both ears are fringed.

Now comes the part where I admit…

I had no idea it would be so hard to garden with a garden mascot! (See above mentioned comment about hole digging…) I just thought it was difficult to garden when my son was a toddler… (He was also a hole digger…)

But Leia is too adorable for words. Which makes the hole digging a bit more tolerable.

Oh. And she loves books almost as much as I do.

arnosky book2

 

gardening

Hellebores, aka Lenten Rose

Shade is precious in my North Texas garden. Though we have plenty of large trees, our property is situated at an odd corner of a cul-de-sac, with the house situated at an even odder angle. Both the front and back gardens receive sun from early morning to late evening year round. I have just a few shady spots, the perfect convergence of house, fence and tree.

helleboreNHG4

That is why, instead of purchasing garden plants in my normal “laissez le bon temps rouler” fashion, I carefully select my shade loving perennials. Hellebores are one of the plants I have deemed well worth every sacred bit of shade.

helleboreNHG3

Hellebores, or Lenten Rose, are evergreen perennials which bloom for several months on end. Their common name comes from the fact that the blooms look slightly like a rose blossom and they start blooming during the season of Lent. It is not unusual for this perennial to hold its blooms up to four months straight. The hellebores’ thick leathery foliage holds up well to our Texas summers and our winter cold.

helleborecloseupNHGflower

Hellebores come in a range of colors from near white to green to hot pink and dark purple, and may feature single, semi-double or double blooms. Be sure to shop your local specialty nurseries for hellebores in late winter, when you can see the colors available. Because hellebores are slow to propagate and grow to market size, they are seldom found for sale in box-garden centers.

helleboreNHG1

They are quite at home anywhere from quaint cottage gardens to shady tropical enclaves. The variegated foliage on the hellebore below is just screaming out to be featured in a tropical garden!

helleboreNGH2leaf

Hellelbores need moist, well drained soil, and are extremely hardy once established.

Their leaves are toxic, therefore the wild rabbits that inhabit (curse!) my garden leave them well enough alone.

Be sure to soak hellebores in diluted seaweed water and tease out their root system before planting.

 

gardening

Daylilies, part deux

A few days after I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t have any daylilies with a beautiful edge along its petals, I had a realization… My Facebook avatar is a daylily with a stunning edge! Sometimes those things we see every day go unseen. (Note to self: stop and look at the flowers…)

So off I went. To search all ten thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine photos on my iPhone to find that photo! So here it is – a daylily with an edge and Part Deux on Daylilies!

daylily with edge

A daylily is said to have an edge when it has a distinctly different color along the outer petal edges, as in the photograph above. (Please excuse me when I don’t identify a specific variety. I do not always update my garden records.)

daylily with edge2

The edge of a daylily may have both a distinctly different color and… Fringe, as in the above photograph. Notice that bit of concrete? This daylilly grows – thrives – along my driveway in full, all day sun!

daylilyphone1

Lord Jeff, in the above photograph, is a great example of a spider daylily, where the length of the petals are longer than their width. This daylily also has distinct coloring on the midribs of its petals.

Another spider daylily, below.

orangedaylily

Even though daylily blooms last only a day, each flower stalk puts out an amazing number of blooms!

daylily with birdbath

Now… I would like to share my recent daylily order from Oakes Daylilies. While I have never mail ordered daylilies from another source, I feel confident in saying – Oakes has the best daylilies. Ever. When you see these babies, I am sure you will agree. It just can’t get any better than this.

This box…

daylily box

contains…

daylily box2

Now isn’t that a beautiful box of bareroot daylilies?!

daylily chicago star

Daylilies grow from rhizomes, and each daylily is bundled together and labeled.

daylily route 66

I soak each bundle in seaweed water for 15-30 minutes before planting and mulching.

Daylilies are an excellent addition to any perennial garden, as their colors and form compliment so many other flowers.

Lavender Blush daylily planted with bright pink winecups (callirhoe involucrata) and rose Comte de Chambord. (Photo is many years old, taken well before I lost this rose to RRD.)

dayllilyandcomte2

A peach colored daylily with pink rainlilies and (again) our native winecups. (Rainlilies and daylilies are not related.)

daylily with rainlily

A daylily with echinacea, aka coneflower.

daylily with coneflower

A garden bed, after the rain… daylily, coneflower and crepe myrtle. (The crepe myrtle is from the new Black Diamond series and was newly planted when this photo was taken.)

daylily coneflower crepe

gardening

Daylilies 101

Whether a gardener is looking for something to plant in full North Texas sun or a hardy perennial for a semi-neglected spot or an affordable plant for a tight garden budget, my answer is almost always the same. Plant a daylily. Hemerocallis -the perfect solution for so many gardening dilemmas.

There is full sun and then there is North Texas Full Sun and, yes, daylilies will grow – thrive – in sunny locations. They will also tolerate light shade, but do need at least 6-8 hours of sun a day.

Daylilies do well in semi-neglected areas, such as the hell-strip between your front sidewalk and street. Yes, they will flower best if some fertilizer is applied in early spring, but they won’t hold it against you if you don’t get around to it. They absolutely thrive in well tended gardens.

Newer varieties of daylilies are often very expensive, but older ones are available for a song. The plants can be divided every two to three years, which means that daylillies are often passed along from one gardener to another.

Daylilies are one of the easiest perennials to divide. If planted in the ground, simply lift out the clump with a pitchfork and soak the roots in some seaweed water. The roots can be teased apart and each section replanted. If you are buying a larger daylily at the nursery, it can often be divided before planting. Again, just soak the root ball and tease the roots apart. Just know that dividing perennials often stunt the first year’s blooms.

From color to size, there is a daylily for every garden.

Daylilies come in an assortment of colors, from near white to deep purple and bright yellow. They have a long bloom season, as some bloom early, some late, with some reblooming. Some have evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage, even in the coldest of winters, while others go dormant in winter.

Both the bloom size and the bloom height vary widely from one variety to another. Some daylily varieties have blooms as small as four inches across, while other daylily blooms are a jaw-dropping seven inches across. Likewise, some daylily blooms are held just a foot or two above soil level, while others top out at four feet or more!

Daylily terminology can be confusing to new gardeners, so here is a quick rundown on the basics. First off, daylily blooms have three petals and three sepals, alternating.

Bicolor: If the three petals are a different color than the three sepals, it is said to be bicolor. Wilson Yellow daylily, below, is bicolor.

wilsonyellow

Bitone: A daylily with three petals a different shade of the same color of the three sepals is considered bitone.

dayllilyandcomte2

Double: A double daylily has a second set of petals, such as the two daylilies pictured below.

double orange

daylillywithsalviagreggi

Edge: A daylily with an outer ‘edge’ of color that is considerably different than that of the petals and sepals. I wish I had a photo to share. (Note to self: Order a daylily with an edge.)

Eyezone: A daylily has an eyezone if the blossoms have a ring of color just above the throat, such as Bonanza shown below.

bonanza

Spider: A daylily is considered a spider if the petals and sepals are four times longer than their width. Alas, I don’t have any personal photos of a spider daylily, but trust me when I say: Spider daylilies are amazingly exotic and always a showstopper.

A few additional daylily photos from my garden over the years:

Rosie Meyer

rosie meyer

White Select

whiteselect

Lavender Blush (with our native winecup)

lavenderblushwinecups

Mountain Violet

mountain violet

Anxious to plant daylilies? So am I! I have used the same online vendor (Oakes Daylilies) for years because their quality and selection is amazing. (I will post photos of my shipment.) Local nurseries will be receiving spring shipments of daylilies in the next month or two, though selection is often limited.

gardening

A Red, Red Rose

Valentine’s Day is exactly a week away. If you are a gardener in North Texas, that can mean only one thing: It is time to prune the roses! That is, assuming you have roses left after Rose Rosette Virus spread throughout the land… Myself, I have just a handful left, down from the 100+ antique roses I had just a few short years ago. RRV was brutal in my Denton county garden.

One of the few roses I have remaining is Thomas Affleck, an intense pink rose with abundant hips. This rose was bred at The Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas, and named after a Texas nurseryman. I have no idea why this rose was spared when all the roses in the same flower bed were hit with RRV. It was the newest rose, not two years in the ground. Perhaps it was protected by the larger plantings around it.  Perhaps it will prove to be hardier than the norm. Time will tell as RRV is still abundant in the area.

One long-time rose gardener in North Texas says that he will continue to grow roses, even if he has to treat them as annuals. I admire his perspective and tenacity, as I miss my roses. But I am not yet ready to dive back into roses. Time marches on and so does the garden. I am expanding my herbs, adding in more Texas natives and planting more for the bees and butterflies.

If you are in North Texas and surrounded by RRV, it is wise to practice safe pruning. Don’t prune on an overly windy day. Disinfect your pruners between roses. Immediately bag all rose clippings. Clean up any rose debris around the base of your plants before adding fresh mulch. Remove any affected roses immediately. Do not listen to false reports that RRV can be treated. As much as I wish it could, there is no proven method at this time for saving roses once they are affected.

If you have a gardener and they prune your roses, please do us all a favor: Make them bag the pruned rose clippings! Do not let them drive off your property with the clippings tied down in a trailer bed, where the wind can further spread the mites that carry RRV.

If you are adding roses to your garden this season, please shop wisely. Skip over Knockout roses, which were mass bred and over planted. Shop your local independent nurseries that carry roses from reputable growers. Space your roses a few feet apart so the mites cannot travel from one plant to another.

——

A midwinter arrangement of greenery, including rose hips from Thomas Affleck and yaupon holly berries:

valentines greenery

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
   And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
   Though it were ten thousand mile.

 

gardening

Early Spring

Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,

hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.

By Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Winter was brutal in North Texas this year, with some of the coldest and driest weather we have experienced in years. But signs of spring are now popping up – subtle risings of warmer weather. The winter’s harshness has vanished. For now at least. The wintery grey is turning a lush green. Oh, we will have more winter to come. Our average last freeze date is March 12 and Mother Nature can be rough on us gardeners. An early spring often means one last late cold snap, a freeze so late it reminds gardeners of how mathematical averages are calculated. It is not unheard of for North Texas to have snow on Easter, after all. But – for today – I am enjoying the bright blue sky and the soft greens of an early spring.

Spring bulbs emerging

bulbs

Fennel putting on new growth

fennel

Salad burnet, a wonderful evergreen herb

salad burnet

Hellebores, or Lenten Rose, will be blooming soon

hellebores

Rosemary, blooming

rosemary blooming

An evergreen fern, nestled away in a shady spot

fern