Monday, April 7, 2008

March - Spring in Central Virginia

There were no crocus in my front lawn this year along the driveway. That's not making sense as I have continued to plant crocus in the lawn every fall hoping to naturalize them. I'm not sure if we don't get enough cold here, if they rotted, if someone is eating them. There are a few places I have succeeded with crocus like my back door that leads into the garage.

I also have some around the swingset, the mailbox, and some other random places that I can enjoy as I walk the property looking for signs of Spring!

The viola pansies that I planted in the Fall survived the Winter quite well.

The regular yellow Narcissus daffodils bloomed and were beautiful. They seem to only last 1 week though which is sad. Some I purchased and some made the trip from Inez's house in Harding 2 years ago. I also planted a few new special varieties this past autumn and they came up a little later and are lasting longer. They are different colors and the double varieties. Their bloom is lasting much longer too.

The Veronica Georgia Blue Speedwell in the front bed with the daffodils is tremendous. The color is so vivid at such an early date and it has certainly grown bigger. I probably could divide it already and I only put it in last Spring. It's a shame it looks so boring the rest of the year.

The willow and the plum tree were the first flowering trees in our front yard. They bloom real early. They have already leafed out. That's Robert from our neighborhood near the tree.

Next the 9 ornamental pear trees at the top of the hill near the back property line bloomed white and now have their leaves. The weeping cherry in the front has just started its bloom on what will probably be its last year. It has been suffering since we put it in and I need to follow the advice of many gardeners I've read and cut my losses with this guy. I am looking at other cherry trees to replace it with the hopes of better success. I will probably try and move the tree to a new location in the back yard because I can't bring my self to just throw it away.

The Royal Star Magnolia by the propane tank bloomed beautifully and held it for a few weeks. It's still hanging onto most of the white flowers. The lilac near it has buds and I do hope it blooms this year. It has not bloomed yet since we put it in. I think this will be its 3rd year. The plant itself looks real healthy, just no flowers.

The flowering quince is beautiful and has been flowering all month and is continuing. The Painter's forsythia are bright yellow the past few weeks as well.

I checked our living fence of Thuja Green Giants this weekend and they all survived the Winter. All but 5 are on their 2nd year. 5 were put in last Spring as replacements to ones that hadn't survived.

I also checked on the various roses and pruned what I could. The Jackson & Perkins Pink Simplicity Shrub Roses that we put in 2-3 years ago are all on their way out as well. We would have pulled them all last year but ran out of energy. So this year they will limp along until we pull them out. Some are totally dead. They were such a disappointment that I removed my name from their catalog and e-mail mailing lists. I would never buy from them again. They wouldn't even consider replacing them or credits or anything and we spent hundreds on those roses. I think we originally purchased 25. Thinking back, any plant I've ever purchased from their gorgeous catalogs has not survived a year. They should be shut down.

The Abraham Darby Weeks Rose from Little Five Azalea farm at 10180 Brook Rd / route 1 in Glen Allen (across from Virginia Center Commons shopping mall) is so far the best Rose I've ever purchased. I stooped over to smell every rose in their greenhouse last Spring and this was the most fragrant. It was the perfect rose fragrance to me anyway. Anyone who saw or smelled them last year couldn't believe it. I sure hope they've retained that over the Winter.

We had a Double Delight rose in NJ that was such a beautiful fragrance and color and did so well at the poolside. When we moved here, we quickly bought and planted 2 and they never had the same strong fragrance and need to be moved out of their / my misery as soon as time allows.

A close second is the Knock Out Rose we planted to test as a replacement for the J&P duds. If it continues as well as it has been, that is what we will replace them with. Paul James, the gardener guy on HGTV's Gardening by the Yard recommended them on a program I watched last Spring so I took his advice. That's such a great show. I highly recommend to the novice gardener through the professional. Our neighbor had also planted 2 knock outs and they are phenomenal.

I've been researching the red tip photina shrub. A few of the houses I see on Cardwell Road in Crozier have them as well as one in front of the Women's prison in Goochland. I have fallen in love with them and wanted one for our yard. When I checked at the Great Big Greenhouse, they told me that they don't even carry them anymore because they are so susceptible to disease. I saw the same issue repeated all over the Internet. I guess I'll forget about them for now. :-(
They looked best when paired with the other early spring blooming yellow and white shrubs.

Sunday afternoon 4/6 I gardened in between the raindrops. It pretty much misted the entire day but with hat, boots and layers I was just fine. I heavily pruned the hybrid poplar that we have. It probably should have been done earlier since it is already leafing out but this is the first chance I've had. It is very tall. The claims of it being a fast growing tree are absolutely true. It is quite thin though. Hopefully it will fill out this year now that I've pruned the 2 fuller low branches. It is one of 3 plants we purchased from Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards in the Spring of 2006. The Pink Cascade Weeping Peach is just blooming now. The American Redbud is alive but not budding yet. We had to fence it in last year because the deer found the leaves tasty.

I planted some more white creeping phlox, a bitterroot plant and an English daisy plant in the butterfly bush garden above the driveway. We planted that garden in August of 2004 so it was mostly late Summer flowering plants. We then added Iris and hellebores and I still saw it needed some Spring color. I need to remember to plant some bulbs in it in the Fall. Also need to find out why my tickseed / moonbeam coreopsis doesn't do better in that spot. It is certainly sunny.

I added some red, peach and pink geraniums to container pots around the pool and a hanging basket on the hook waiting for me to put the hummingbird feeders out. Which, by the way, need to get out by April 15.

I dug up alot of little volunteer evergreens / baby firs from the gardens and potted them up. If they keep going, I'll plant them in the yard.

Lastly, before I end for the day. Historic Garden Week in Virginia is coming up real soon - April 19 - 27. I've only been able to visit Tuckahoe Plantation in Goochland so far each year and plan to again this year. I look forward to their plantings and get may ideas from the beautiful setting. I toured the home once but highly recommend the gardens. It is kid friendly enough since you are outside and just wonderful. From formal vegetable gardens, to formal perennial gardens, to established trees, I can't get enough. I do need to go back one year when the peonies are blooming, maybe late May. As I recall the shrubs are so full but not blooming at this time of year and must be incredible. All of the pictures shown below are from Tuckahoe Plantation in April 2007. My December 15, 2007 entry has a few more photos.

We also have a trip planned to visit Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square,
Pennsylvania and Winterthur in Maryland this Spring. I've been to Longwood once while we lived in New Jersey and never Winterthur. The Dupont properties are amazing. I cannot wait. I'll need to take a lot of pictures and notes!

This week we will be up in Hadensville so I plan to check in on the 2 local Goochland County / Louisa County garden centers up there, the Herb Garden (formerly the Herb Barn) on the North side of 250 at 4390 Three Chopt 457-3318 and the Mustard Seed Farm on the South side of Broad at 4791 Three Chopt 937-1028. AS of 4/8 the Herb Garden's website was not up yet but should be real soon. I'm always on the lookout for garden centers and nurseries I haven't been to yet but do have a list of my favorites to check on once or twice a season.

Happy Gardening!

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