Monday, February 6, 2012

Throwing In The Towel and Lifting The Spade

As the sun wains on today, it is 76 degrees outside.  Mild with a light breeze.  A top 10 day of the year, weatherwise, and on a Sunday to boot.

This morning with my coffee, I was sitting outside and taking a look at the roses, which I hadn't pruned at all, and...they were all breaking dormancy!  Those that went into dormancy, that is.  Marie Pavie has been blooming throughout the winter, in total shade.  So, I threw in the towel and pick up the trowel and decided that today was first real garden day of the year.   I probably worked for 5 straight hours out there!

The remains of the blooms from Marie Pavie

I planted the bulbs that have been hanging in the refrigerator (southern solution to no frost), hard pruned the roses, raked up the leaf cover, put several bags of compost and mulch all around, and potted up the stolen rose cutting which is now on its way to bush-dom.
Rosa "Church Heist"
And finally, after sitting out there in their nursery pots all winter (I don't know how it is I don't kill more stuff doing this), I planted the Encore Azaleas out in the parking garden.  That process is an hour in itself, because it involves digging through the gravel, then sawing out the roots of various trees both dead and alive to make some room.  Then of course importing some decent soil mixed with sphagnum so that some water is retained.  Then, planting time.  I often wonder what it must be like gardening someplace that hasn't been an urban center for hundreds of years and doesn't have mature 70 foot trees all over the place? Are there places with fertile workable soil?  Really?  Anyhow, the parking garden is a big work in progress.  Mostly still the work part, with a lot of the progress forthcoming.  One thing that is looking pretty good is the 'hedge' of liriope outside the garden gate leading to the parking garden.  It gives me hope that 2 years from now the parking garden will be looking as established, and not, well, like this second picture.

"Evergreen Giant" Liriope along the driveway... looking good even in winter
New Azaleas looking very small in their new home

My garden, still mostly sleepy, has turned a big corner in the past week... the no going back corner.  Our average 'last frost' date here on the peninsula is Feb 11, but things are way ahead, and if we get a freezing night this year I'm hoping its not til next December.   I think the latest ever is March 8, and thats a full month from now, so fingers are crossed.  It is hard to imagine though, as the entire winter has been in the 60s and 70s minus a handful of days.  Snowflakes are up, muscari nearly there, and even the tropical brugmansia has unfurled a few leaves.


  1. Here in Western NC, I am seeing a lot of signs of spring and I fear for those early plants. But whether it comes now or with some freezer burn...I am ready. Evergreen Giant Liriope is my favorite.

  2. Wow, you really have had a mild winter, haven't you? How wonderful that you got a full five hours to mess around. I love 'Marie' and the idea of having a blooming rose all winter. How lucky you are. Your Lirope border is really nice and those sweet snowdrops... love them. I'll keep my fingers crossed that Jack Frost stays far, far north until next December. :)

  3. We have had a mild winter too and I could easily get out there and work, but have not found the time. I am a little in awe that your weather is that nice and you got so much done,

  4. Donna - I am soooo sore! Its like the first day of skiing... always overdo it, and use muscles that have been asleep for months! Its feels like I did a 3 hour long squat!

    Grace - Marie has been moved up to my favorite... not only does it bloom like crazy all the time, but it stays small and the blooms are the wafting intensely fragrant kind. If you've got a large pot to spare, you should get one!

    GUTI - I totally agree about the evergreen giant... they are awesome and keep their purple wants for 4 months or so. Plus the don't care if the odd vehicle swipes them all the time.

  5. Oh! 5 hours work! I've been working an hour here and there - you put me to shame! Marie Pavie looks beautiful - and your "church heist" rose (great name!) is looking very healthy! I think spring is here - everything would be in a terrible shock if it freezes again this year (especially me!).

  6. It's crazy. I'm in North Carolina and half the plants didn't even bother to go dormant. I planted peas and runner beans today.

    Your church heist rose looks excellent!

  7. 5 hours in the yard is painful, up , down, aching back. It is amazing what a mild winter we have had here in South Carolina, take care !!

  8. I've given up pining away for a blizzard and am now just waiting for spring. :o) I wish had roses blooming! Lucky you!!

  9. Sweet snowflakes! I brought some from CT, but no sign of them popping out of the ground yet. This particular winter in NC seems to allow for year round gardening, a new, exhausting experience for sure.

  10. great work - that liriope is so so reliable - the roses are definitely to die for ...

  11. A winter of '60s and '70s sounds like heaven to me!