Southern California.

Then and Now

I have been remiss in posting photos. I took a batch at the beginning of May, and again just last night.

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Then and Now: Bulb Garden. My once-glorious tulips are all gone. I had planted some echinacea that was supposed to pop up to fill the empty spaces, but so far, they are still seedlings. The daylilies are popping up along the back row—nevertheless, next year, I think we’ll have to do something more with the bulb garden.

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Then and Now: Perennial Garden. What a difference a month makes! The catmint is in full bloom—in fact, I’ve already pruned it back once. My columbine came back beautifully. It’s tied up at the moment, after an unfortunate stomping incident, but we hope to have it unbound and thriving again soon.

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The coreopsis, which is just starting to bloom.

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My pretty yarrow.

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Columbine

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Some black-eyed susan vine that I started from seed and am training up the patio’s concrete base. Once I laid the chicken wire, weeding became tricky. Perhaps a mulching is in my future.

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The boys’ Easter boxes, which are looking quite lovely on the back patio.

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Then and Now: Japanese spirea in the front garden. It’s filling out just beautifully, and disguising the front porch wall nicely.

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Then and Now: Hostas. The prettiest part of my front garden. I might add another one next year.

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Cherry tree, then and now. I had my doubts as to its survival, given the winter we had. But the tree soldiers on, as do we. More to come next month.

Top photo taken April 20. Bottom photo, April 27. 

April 5

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About half of the crocuses are up now. I think, were I to do it again, I’d have doubled the number of minor bulbs I planted, perhaps adding some snowdrops into the mix. I’ll have to wait and see what I think once we’ve seen the full show.

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The first perennial in the garden to show signs of life is the columbine, which took quite some time to establish itself last year. I fought hard to keep it alive, and it pleases me to see a cluster of leaves emerge.

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Meanwhile, we are keeping busy with our seed-starting projects. My SAD lamp rig is working well. Here is the verbena, which I planted in an egg crate. I read that verbena like a moist environment for sprouting, so I covered the egg crate loosely with plastic wrap. 

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The coleus are thriving in their little greenhouse, which is actually two tupperware containers.

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I sort of spilled the seeds (they are so small!), which explains the haphazard/overcrowded planting pattern:

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My three-and five-year-olds, inspired by a book we recently checked out of the library, have become interested in keeping seeds from the fruit they eat. Today, we planted two of them. The five-year-old helped me with the signs:

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This made me nostalgic for a project I used to do as a kid, so I bummed a few toothpicks from a neighbor and we got an avocado pit going:

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I also started some black-eyed susan vine, which will eventually go out back. I’m pretty much out of kitchen counter space, but we are having fun.

Signs of spring in the back garden.

One Week of Spring

On the first day of spring, it snowed.

But since then, the temperatures have been (mostly) above freezing, and we are, at long last, starting to see signs of life in the garden.

Here are some crocus sprouting in my back garden.

The sandwort is back and looking quite green, except in spots where the neighbor dogs have relieved themselves (as you can see, I’ve sprinkled the area generously with red pepper flakes in an attempt to encourage them to do their business elsewhere). It seems impossible to me that the perennials will come back but I suppose they will. It’s so different from the gardens I grew up with in California; I have to force myself to be patient.

I feel considerably less patient with the glory-of-the-snow, which ought to be up and blooming right now, filling my front yard with cheer. So far, I see no glory, only snow. Perhaps I messed up the planting of them, somehow.

While I wait, I have started some seeds on my kitchen counter—coleus and verbena. I probably ought to have started them sooner, but I figure they will sprout one way or another. I’m using my handy SAD therapy lamp to help them germinate.

I hope to report back with flowers in the bulb garden and new growth elsewhere soon.

Still snowing/snowing again. 

Still snowing/snowing again. 

What a difference six months makes.

What a difference six months makes.

Winter Garden

We are 32 days into winter; 57 days to go. In Chicago, we’ve seen 44.8 inches of snow so far, and it is snowing again now. Everything is white: the ground is white, the sky is white. The children track snow into the car and it sits on the floorboard, unmelted, even with the heater cranked up.

I never know what to do with myself in the wintertime. Every year, I think I will find a way to appreciate the weather, but then the cold and white overwhelm me and I stay inside. Lately, I have been wondering about forcing bulbs indoors, but I don’t know the first thing about it. Two winters ago, I bought house plants, but I have a brown thumb when it comes to those. And so I wait.

Garden as of November 12, 2013.  About three weeks ago, we put in our bulbs: 60 tulips and 100 crocus bulbs in the back, 100 Chionodoxa in the front. And yesterday, we got our first dusting of snow. As you can see, the front yard is nearly dormant (although the cherry tree has not lost its leaves), but our little perennial bed out back is still hanging in.. the yarrow is even blooming, and has bloomed continuously since we planted it this spring.

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