Weekend Garden Notes, April 20, 2014

Getting the Garden in Shape

It was a beautiful weekend, and I’m very pleased with myself for all the spring garden chores I accomplished. For starters, cutting back the rest of the stems and stalks, leaving behind enough dead leaves and plant litter to keep the bugs and birds happy.

Southeast corner of the back garden, with Deutzia and 'Sally Holmes' rose not yet leafing out. It's hard to see, but Jacobs ladder and merrybells are coming up.
Southeast corner of the back garden, with Deutzia and ‘Sally Holmes’ rose not yet leafing out. It’s hard to see, but Jacobs ladder and merrybells are coming up. You can also make out the trench border.

What’s more, I edged all the beds and borders. I like using a shallow trench to form a clear demarcation between the lawn and the flowers, though in some beds pavers fill this function. I only need to clear the trenches once a year, then keep the turf grasses and other invaders from sneaking past. The soil cleared from the trenches is like compost, full of decayed leaves and other vegetable matter, and you can use it as such.

Backyard fountain
Our backyard fountain

Plus, I put away the heated bird bath and got our little fountain started up. And did it without pulling any muscles in my back.

First of the Tulips and Daffodils

Tulipa turkestanica
Tulipa turkestanica

Species tulips are wild tulips, with blooms smaller than the hybrids, that grow in a swath from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. They are wonderful for many reasons, not least of which is that they tend to bloom weeks earlier than the hybrid tulips. Tulipa turkestanica, with its yellow base and nearly flat cream-colored tepals, is a particular favorite of mine. It seems to be successfully naturalizing in my beds.

2014-04-20 17.04.53

Tulipa praestans ‘Unicum’ has vivid red flowers and variegated leaves. It blooms at the same time as T. turkestanica, and they make good companions.


Tulipa biflora
Tulipa biflora

Another early species tulip is Tulipa biflora. Similar to T. turkestanica, but shorter and with delicate, cup-shaped blooms.

'Little Gem' daffodils
‘Little Gem’ daffodils

The first of the daffodils are blooming, including ‘Little Gem’. There’s also a number of bi-colored Large-Cup daffodils, but I’ve lost track of the varieties. I’m especially fond of bi-colored daffodils with white perianths and yellow crowns.

Bicolored daffodils, variety unknown.
Bicolored daffodils, variety unknown.

Containing My Excitement

Hyacinths coming up.
Hyacinths coming up.

The hybrid tulips planted in containers seem to have come through the winter with flying colors. I am eager to see them in bloom. Given the severity of the winter, it would seem that burying the containers provided better protection than putting them in an unheated garage. In addition to nine containers of hybrid tulips, I planted one of common hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis).

Emerging foliage of container tulips.
Emerging foliage of container tulips, underplanted with sweet alyssum.

This weekend I bought a flat of lemon-colored sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and used it to underplant the container tulips.

Our old wheelbarrow planted with pansies.
Our old wheelbarrow planted with pansies.

I also filled our unoccupied containers, including our old rusty wheelbarrow, with pansies: blue, yellow, white, and white with a purple face.

My old shoes planted with  sweet alyssum.
My old shoes planted with sweet alyssum.

Finally, I came up with a use for my old shoes. First I should tell you that I hate shopping for shoes (and clothes in general), and I hate throwing them away. I tend to wear my shoes until the sole is worn through and parting ways with the rest of the shoe. I’ve had a few pairs of these old shoes lined up near the front door, but just recently realized that they would make great planters. Ta da! And the extra holes provide openings for more plants.

Did you get some quality time in the garden this weekend?



46 Comments on “Weekend Garden Notes, April 20, 2014

  1. I did get some quality time in the garden this weekend, the weather today was fantastic! I am trying to keep up with planting all my new plants soon after acquiring them, rather than hanging onto them till next year or longer, which always ends up with me losing several to winter cold. I recently finished all my cutting back and cleaning up too. I like a trench edge on my beds, I do thte same as you.

    • I really don’t like having plants sitting in their pots and not getting them into the ground right away. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid, though.

  2. Such a unique planter-shoes. Love those tulips especially the one with the variegated leaves-beautiful. I spent the weekend planting as well. Hope you and Judy had a nice Easter.

  3. You have lovely species tulips, specially Tulips turkestanica.
    I have Sally Holmes too, she is beautiful. She smells lovely and blooms for ages. A real star. I do love single roses.
    What on earth are Merry Bells? Latin please.

  4. We had a beautiful weekend as well. Lots of weeding and preparing and hopefully planting next weekend. Love the tulips! Have tried to grow the species tulips before but with not much success.

  5. Looking very spring-like! My blub containers just went over and were moved to the back this weekend. I’m going to repant the daffs and muscari, but the tulips are kaput.

  6. You’ve certainly been working hard and it looks very neat. I adore species tulips too and tried a few new ones this year which I’m pleased with. Your wheelbarrow and shoes make lovely features! It rained a bit yesterday which is good but now the sun’s out and I will plant some tomatoes, aubergines etc. in the greenhouse.

    • Glad you liked the wheelbarrow and shoes!. We should get some rain tonight, which would be useful. Can’t wait for everything to start blooming.

  7. Oh how i miss my tulips! I had TONS that came up (in Massachusetts) every year.
    I agree with you re: digging shallow trenches to demarcate garden beds, I love the neat look, although i do have a few beds offset by pavers too.
    You really accomplished a LOT this weekend!

  8. Great weekend to be out in the garden. I like your clever use of gardening containers. I tried the container tulips this year, but I left the pots out all winter and so far haven’t seen anything coming up. May be a failed experiment due to the harsh winter. Yours were probably more protected being buried.

    • You have to bury the containers, keep them inside where it is not too cold or warm, or at least give them some sort of insulation. Better luck next year!

      • I’ll try again next year. It was really a last minute decision when I saw some bulbs on clearance. Too late to bury them then, but I could have put the pots somewhere more protected. I feel up to the challenge next winter and will plan ahead better.

  9. The species tulips look wonderful naturalized in your garden. You’ve given me a good idea of some to add the Longview Ranch. Let’s hear it for productive garden weekends with no back strain!!

  10. I love the fountain. I managed to set up a new feeder pole hopefully out of the squirrels’ reach and dug up three butterfly bushes without killing my back…although some of the roots are still there so I’m not convinced, but I’m looking forward to filling that space with something less invasive. Unfortunately I have tulips the squirrels have planted everywhere and none are blooming yet. …

    • I planted a compact butterfly bush last fall, I’m waiting to see if it survived the winter. I didn’t actually realize they were invasive in this region. Oops!

  11. Hi Jason, love the planted wheel barrow! I like to have neat lawn/border edging too and it’s a job I would be doing around now, but we have no borders in the new garden! We’ve already had the spring bulbs due to the mild winter and early start to the season so it’s nice to see them again in the US garden blogs .

  12. The old wheelbarrow and the planted shoes look great! I do like your fountain too. What lovely tulips you have, I’m so glad you are finally getting a little colour.xxx

  13. Something about cleaning up the garden after winter really makes me pleased with myself. Next to putting out nice little vegetable transplants, it’s one of my favorite tasks…. as long as it’s not too much work of course.

  14. I got a start uncovering the beds this weekend too. Everything is coming up but few are blooming yet. I’ve never seen a tulip with variegated leaves-interesting. That pot full of hyacinths is going to smell great near the front door.

  15. The weather warmed so I too edged the beds like the pros. That is one good thing about working with landscapers, I always have the right tools for the jobs. No planting here yet, it needs a bit more time of warm weather to even get the trees to break bud.

    • What is the right tool for the job? I use a regular long-handled edger. During the season I have a battery powered weed whacker that I use to keep the grass in check.

  16. Love those shoes!!!!! That is AWESOME!!!! You are a rockstar Jason!!!! I can not believe all that you accomplished! Beautiful spots all over your garden!!! I have been working out in the garden but I spent much of the time picking a million maple trees out of the front bed…though I did get a few labor intensive jobs done while the beans were coming down from their sugar high on Easter! Wishing you a great week in the garden!!! Nicole

  17. We traveled for Easter and it is always a struggle for me to leave the garden on a nice day but we had a wonderful time. Of course, I walked the garden the minute we returned home. One of my daffodils is blooming today. The scilla are a brilliant, brilliant blue! I noticed your nice edging right away! That is something I hope to accomplish this Spring. I didn’t quite get it done early enough last year. Love all your interesting containers – so nice to see all those flowers.

  18. Great to see all your tulips coming up, and I love the shot of your hyacinths. I am most taken by your wheelbarrow full of pansies, and the shoes! what an inspiration! Happy spring!

  19. We have had some great Easter Holidays with lots of sunshine. Perfect for gardening. I like your water feature, and I´m thinking about buying half a whiskykeg, and filling that with water.

  20. Great to see that you’ve thrown yourself into spring with both feet (there seem to be 4 shoes but I’m not sure what you call two pairs of feet! enjoy. We had more hail over Easter as well as some lovely sunshine.

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