Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Ever Blooming Garden - All At Once

ABC News the other night was remarking on the astronomically high pollen counts this year in the southeast.   This is to the tune of 5000+ (parts per whatever), instead of a normal very high of 120.    Sitting at my brother's house on Easter we could actually see puffs of pollen coming off of a tree in the breeze, like he had pulled out a cigar for a post meal boys club card game.

The bottom line is, this is true, as my meals now consist primarily of Claritin.

The cause of all this pollen, says the News, is that everything is blooming at once, thanks to an usually cool late winter in the south east followed up by the 3 week spell of summer we've just had with minimal rain.     And unfortunately this is true too.

In my garden right now, I have old-fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra Alba) blooming with woodland phlox (Phlox Divaricata), which all makes sense, but what also is blooming are the coneflowers (Echinacea Purpurea), Cleome, and Agapanthas.  What the heck are they doing here in early April!!?    What is this going to mean for my mid and late summer garden?  I am having trouble believing that the coneflowers are going to bloom for 6 months, as great a plant as they are.

Some of this issue is of course, that some of these flowers were raised until weeks ago at a nursery, and combined with the summer weather they were just ready.  But that doesn't explain the agapanthas - I planted that last October from a clump dug up in Va, and because of the cooler weather in February it was actually late to come up!     Same for the cleome.  Those were seeds.

Its interesting which plants are getting mixed up by all of this.   The sedum, for instance, looks exactly like it should and is a long way from blooming.   The star jasmine, which should be blooming next month, hasn't even put buds out yet, so I'm guessing he is on schedule too.   The Lavender looks to be on schedule, the Catmint.   The Rose of Sharon and the Callicarpa bush are acting like its still winter, and haven't even noticed anything awry.  Both are still mainly sticks, which as I understand it, is normal for them.


  1. I hadn't even considered what the early spring might mean for the summer/fall garden. Perhaps annuals would be in order this year?

  2. At least by next year, your nursery raised plants will have acclimated to your garden, and bloom when they're supposed to. Sylvana has a good suggestion though, infilling with annual color if need be this year. When I start a new garden, I try not to buy all my plants at once. Even though plants from nurseries often bloom out of sync the first year, if I buy them throughout the year I find in subsequent seasons that the garden will always have something in flower. Maybe you just to need to buy more plants :P

  3. Dear Jess, What a very mixed up year this appears set to be. I am alarmed at your account of the pollen count which must be so very distressing for so many people, yourself included.

    I agree with Curbstone Valley that container raised plants will often flower out of their usual season in their first year - do not worry as they will fall into the normal pattern in subsequent years.

    Thank you so much for leaving a comment, to which I have made reply, on my latest posting. So as not to miss your future postings I am adding myself as a 'Follower'.

  4. Our rose of sharon are still sticks too. When we bought hosta, they would always flower early, but fell into line the next year. Enjoy the green and fill in with annuals. jim

  5. Jess, hope the Claritin-infused days aren't getting you down too much. It's been rough around here. Finally, our temperatures seem to be settling in to normal... or something like. ;) Maybe your poor plants who got a too-early start will calm down a bit and save some energy for August.

  6. Oh Jess, I hope you get a rest from all that pollen soon! We seem to have been suddenly thrown from some mild autumn weather into a wintery bluster, so maybe the weather is trying to even itself up on the other side of the world!
    I hope your flowers all settle down soon!

  7. I hear you! We have a thin layer of yellow on everything. I now have a yellow car. We did get some rain which helps.
    My coneflowers are not blooming, yet. They are getting close. I planted them early last summer. Also, my rose of sharon has green leaves, now. I hadn't even thought about things being out of sync because of the weather. Our winter was crazy, here!

  8. Weather is crazy for sure! I only hope we don't get a cold snap when the apple trees bloom, like last year. No one in this area got apples last year, and there were higher deer losses in the winter.
    It will be interesting as time passes and we will see what happens in your garden. Perhaps some of the plants can be tricked into flowering again later?

  9. Sylvana and CSV: ha yes, just what I need is more plants! I actually have a few holes around the coneflowers waiting at least one more 'normal old normal coneflower' and some david phlox. Hopefully those will bloom at a normal time so I at least have some coneflowers blooming in Sept with the Sedum.

    Edith Hope: thank you so much :) thats a compliment!

    Jim - its funny, the hostas are growing normally. I did plant those from dormant bare root though... I do wonder if certain triggers 'set' plants off. Lots of hot days, for instance, or maybe total number of days since last freeze. Certainly the rose of sharon with its stick and 20 leaves isn't fooled by the early summer!

    Meredith & Heidi - Thanks. Claritin actually does work wonders, but for the first few days there I was looking like the swamp thing and having to use goo be gone to open my eyes in the morning.

    Amy - Its ridiculous the yellow. My cat is now yellow!

    Kara - Apples seem to be like that huh? Ready to get started asap. In Virginia we had years of the same thing, early spring with a single late frost and gooooodbye apples! I hope they do flower again. The early spring bloomers tend to flower twice actually, spring and fall, so you never know!

  10. I'm sorry about the allergies, Jess. Claritin is helpful to many people, so I hope it's helping your symptoms too.
    It's like our weather throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere fell through the looking glass this year, although the past two days here have been cool and windy--more in keeping with 'real' April in Nova Scotia than most of the past several weeks weather has been.
    Yes, callicarpa and rose of Sharon are both late to break dormancy--so late that many a gardener has dug them up thinking they were mort, when actually they were just resting. They're also late season performers so that probably has something to do with it.

  11. Hi, Jess. My poor son also suffers from allergies and lives on Zyrtek. I'm sorry for your suffering. The pollen has been NUTS this car is constantly covered, even 30 minutes after a wash.

  12. The pollen is something else....Everything looks green or dusty~~It's in the house, too! There are wonderful annuals to fill in the holes that will be left by coneflower...But I wonder if deadheading would increase bloom? I never do, I want the seed for birds and baby plants...It's a strange year...hope you can manage your allergies until this is over. gail

  13. Hi Jess~~ As potentially disastrous as this is, it's also [forgive me if I'm being calloused] quite amusing. I mean, here we plan and plod and toil and what happens? Our plants show their independence regardless and remind us who's really in charge.

    I will be interested in reading about how your plants do throughout the spring and summer months.

    Airborne allergens BEGONE!

  14. Jess, my garden is ideal for hayfever sufferers, as nothing is happening, apart from piles of mud being moved from one place to another. You see, I have perfected allergy-free horticulture!

  15. Thanks everyone, on the condolences for bad allergy genes! Jodi, Gail, Kimberly - At least this all at once thing will hopefully mean over faster than ever?

    Grace, no, I'm trying to be amusing, so please feel free to laugh in my direction whenever you want.

    IG - hang in there!