Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

 My grandfather was born in Cork City, Ireland.  He gave me St. Patrick’s biography to read when I was twelve years old.  I remember that my grandfather loved gardening  and reading.  He read on average of five or six books per week.  He also taught me the name of almost every plant, that we passed when we went for our afternoon walks, in Latin!

The pictures below were taken at my parents’ house yesterday—they live about 50 miles south and east of me which puts them in USDA Zone 6.  They are also at sea level.  I live in a Zone5/6 micro-zone and my house is about 800 ft. above sea level Even though the distance between our houses is not significant, these location characteristics affect the bloom time and emergence of spring plants by almost a month.

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The pale lilac crocuses above are a very early Siberian species which bloom several weeks before the larger Dutch varieties do.  

I still have almost a foot of snow cover on my property but the south-facing hill is starting to show some patches of bare ground.

Finished Block #7 of my Vintage Memories BOM.

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  • You can start removing burlap wrappings from shrubs now. Look for snow load damage.  Trim broken branches.
  • If the ground is bare you can do a some early lawn patching by “frost seeding”.   This means on mornings when the ground is crystalline and crunchy you sprinkle grass seed on areas that have been damaged by winter plowing or snow removal.   As the ground warms the seeds will fall into cracks in the moist soil and be ready to germinate when the ground warms.
  • This is also a good time to inspect your garden tools again—Spades, rakes and forks, clippers and pruners should be ready to go if you cleaned and oiled them before retiring them last fall.  Decide what needs to be replaced or what new tools you’ll need for this year’s garden.  Do you need support stakes for foxgloves, delphiniums?  Bird netting?  Support rings for peonies. Do your pruners need sharpening?    Make a list now and take care of it so you’ll be ready when the time comes to start using them.
  • Scout out wet embankments along roadsides for wild pussy willows. I saw some today—the silver of the catkins glistened in the sun as I drove by.  Tomorrow I’ll cut a few branches to bring a bit of spring inside.
  • Make sure you are on public land before picking any plants and always cut branches at an angle with good pruners so that water does not sit on a flat cut and lead to disease or rot.  Nothing gets me angrier  than to find someone has broken off branches and stripped bark.  With a little consideration and respect for the plant we can all enjoy the beauty.

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