Garden Report: March 31

As a fine layer of dust settles on the interior of the house, let us draw a curtain over that scene and take a look at the garden. We're going to have a lot of posts about the indoor work soon enough.

Normally the day after a huge effort like our demolition party, I would spend a few hours just sort of puttering in the garden recovering from the effort. But on Sunday I had so much energy left over from not working my butt off that I went out and turned a compost pile, cleaned out the chicken room bedding a bit, took down the plastic over their windows for the season, did a bunch of weeding, and so on. Crazy.

Things are going well in the garden, although lately I've been spending so much of my free time on indoor things that I've hardly gotten to spend much time in the garden at all.

We have a nice large tray of tomatoes, basil, alpine strawberries, and some rose seedlings I'm experimenting with. I got my seeds started late this year and I'm just not going to worry about that. Since we destroyed their little nursery in the dining room, they've been hardening off prematurely the last few days, and that doesn't seem to bother them too much (it's been pretty warm lately).

Tomato seedlings

Our camellia finally started blooming, just as I was wondering if it was ailing. Every other camellia on the island has been blooming for months, and I think of them as winter flowers rather than spring flowers. For some months of the year, they are one of the only things in bloom. I don't know why ours delayed, but perhaps it's still dealing with the stress of being planted.

Camellia blooms

Over in the orchard, the lavender breadseed poppies under the dwarf apples are going gangbusters. Every year I sprinkle lots of poppy seeds around the garden and only a few poppies ever actually make it; I suspect we lose a lot to birds, or the ground doesn't stay consistently moist enough to support them. It took a few years for these guys to establish and seed themselves heavily enough to do a real display, but this year has made it worthwhile. Most days there are several blooms, and I love the seedheads. I also have a fantasy about making poppyseed bread from the seeds, but I'd need a lot more seeds than we've ever gotten to make that work.

None of the apples are doing much of anything yet (they have buds, but no leaves or flowers). It's been such a warm winter that I have to remind myself that this is the last day of March and it's a bit early to expect anything.

Apple trees and poppies

The sweet cherry trees are starting to bloom now; the Montmorency is lagging, as it always does. I'm looking forward to getting our annual handful of cherries in July.

Cherry blossoms

Likewise, there's a lot of blooming going on in the strawberry patch. I'm sort of puzzling over how to protect the strawberries from the combined ravages of chickens and sleeping dogs so I could maybe make a small batch of strawberry jam this year. I'm seeing a lot of fence work in my future.

Getting ready for strawberries

We have a few blooms on the Asian pears, but it'll be a week or so before they go completely nuts.

Asian pear blossom

And somebody asked me this winter whether Chaenomeles, flowering quince, would produce quince fruits. They will fruit, if they are planted near a regular quince tree, but I know nothing about the quality or edibility of the fruit. Since the flowering quince is about ten feet away from the Havran quince, we will find out this year. I think this qualifies as earliest fruit set ever in this garden.

Flowering quince fruit

(I know: did we really need more quince? Given that our neighbors with a quince tree happily give us all their fruit to add to the bushels we get from our own tree, the answer to that is a firm NO.)

I transplanted a lot of the Allium schubertii this year, and this is the only one that seems to be willing to bloom as a result. They are just such crazy plants.

Allium Schubertii

Just emerging around the garden are these little species daffodils I planted. Well, the greenery emerged a while ago; the buds are just appearing. Unfortunately, the snails eat them almost immediately. But they are still very pretty, and since the chickens started laying eggs every day, the snail population has taken a real hit. I'm starting to look for ways to live-trap snails to feed them as treats.

Little species daffodil

This is one of the couple of types of Brodeia I planted. Which one, I do not know, because the only real different is bloom colour (I planted pink and purple ones).

Some kind of brodeia

A nice little vignette: some of the alliums in bud, with the Felicia elongata in bloom. The felicia has the distressing habit of just sort of looking rumpled like this all the time. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Allium and felicias

My two patches of Babiana varieties are doing well. I have been telling myself I need to dig them up and divide them, and yet I do not. Much as the weeding that needs to happen around them has not been happening.


A consistent favourite of mine are the ranunculus. I have them in a few places, and they appear or not depending on how happy they are in their location. The ones under the quince are not happy (they are being strangled with Bermuda grass). These ones under the Asian pears are very happy.


We're starting to get to the season when we need to irrigate, and Noel and I need to get our butts in gear and attach the new pump to the tank system. The old pump died last year and we've just been moving the output hose from the sump around the garden ever since, a method that is not going to work well for much longer. So it'll be more plumbing for us in the near future, I foresee.

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posted by ayse on 03/31/09