Gotta Garden

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Random Thoughts

It came! The mega quantity of Fox/Bobcat stuff is here! It's heavier than I realized and....stinks. Hmmm. I didn't recall the smaller quantities having an odor. It also didn't cover as much ground as I anticipated, but perhaps I was more generous in quantity than I needed to be. Anyway, my husband walks outside, sniffs the air, and announces "We have a skunk." Looking up from my perch where I am inspecting vole holes, I smartly reply, "It's fox/bobcat, of course." As if anyone could tell.


The other day I went shopping with perfectly good intentions of buying shoes. A general mundane sort of task that is necessary. So, I ask myself, how did I end up in the department with ceramic pots and garden gewgaws? It's as if gardening is so ingrained in me that even the simpliest of tasks changes without any stream of consciousness. The pots were rather nice and reasonably priced. (I bought two. Shoes, I can buy any day, right?)


Seed starting. I mean to. Well, I mean I have, actually. Lots and lots of daylilies are growing in my dining room. Hundreds, in fact. It's kind of like the lottery. Out of all these daylilies just may come something so spectacular as to turn the daylily world on its head. I won't find out for two years, the usual time frame for bloom for daylilies started from seed.

I've set aside a tray for planting other things. Tomatoes and peppers, some annuals, and a few herbs, the usual suspects. It's just that the daylilies have filled my head this year. Maybe I will just buy these things, these ordinary backbone-of-the-summer-garden plants. Maybe not. There's still time.

Last year, I wintered sowed many things. More than I got around to planting, I'm ashamed to say. The past two years, I enjoyed putting my seeds for all kinds of things into milk jugs and other containers and letting them do it all themselves on my deck. It's easy (lots of information on gardenweb in the winter sowing forum).

This year, you may have guessed it...the only seeds I've winter sown are...daylilies. Daylilies on shelves with lights (the more pampered ones) and daylilies in windows are the indoor cousins of the poor ones outside. I was informed by my family that the lights on the daylilies in the dining room can be seen from the road outside and clearly are lighting the way for aliens from outer space. Well, maybe daylily loving ones.


One of my favorite things to do before going to sleep is to read. While I love a good murder mystery, I don't like to read them then (because I will stay up all night reading, for one, and second, because I like pleasant dreams, not who-done-it worries). My favorite reads at bedtime are garden books. Or garden magazines, if I'm really tired, as I can just enjoy the pictures. I truly do dream of flowers and gardening. I'm considering writing about some of my favorite garden books here. For a while, I did little garden book reviews for our local master gardener association newsletter. It began to feel like a chore or a school assignment that was due. Pretty silly as it was strictly voluntary. I'll think about it some more.


Reminder to myself to work on posting pictures. I gave it one little unsuccesful try. I have a few pictures of the early crocus, the snowdrops and the hellebores. Oh, and the snow from that other weekend. It seems I can only post one picture at a time? There must be a way to post them all. Gotta get in picture taking shape! Spring will be bursting out here before I'm ready (with the camera).

Sam (the cat) is sitting here. He reminds me that other things and events demand my attention. The daylilies in the dining room haven't been checked for at least...what...a couple hours? Okay....until later....I gotta garden (even if it is in the dining room).

Friday, February 17, 2006

Can It Be Saved?

My last rhododendron is on the critical list. Full of buds, it is preparing for another glorious season. However, the voles have other ideas. Since they first appeared several years ago, voles have become my gardening nightmare. Last year, I used a product that was powdered/dehydrated fox/bobcat urine and it seemed to keep them on the move. The dirty secret is that voles return. Mr. Fox/Bobcat must be applied fairly regularly to keep them on the move. I noticed the first holes several days ago. Only this morning did I order a large quantity of my weapon...shoulda, woulda, coulda that I had done it immediately upon seeing the holes.

Now, I have more holes and their racetracks. Worse of all, this rhodo is leaning out over the walkway, something it has never done. Attempting to push it back, I could feel the give. Sigh. Last year, they destroyed a Carol Mackie daphne. Daphnes are notorious for not liking their feet disturbed. Having their roots eaten combined with the rodents' tunneling was more than it could take. Sadly. The fothergillia that struggled until I finally decided to put it out of its misery showed terrible damage when I dug it up. Nasty, nasty voles.

My two cats, Sam and Leo, are good hunters. Their first year, they alone were enough to send the voles scurrying. Now, either the voles are in larger quantity or they are distracted by other critters to hunt or...who knows...maybe sleeping inside in the warmth and a full belly has made hunting less attractive. At any rate, as of today, the voles are winning.

Rabbits are still a problem, but not nearly to the extent they were before the arrival of Sam and Leo. In my yard, the rabbits have radar for the saffron crocus. It must be especially delicious and they had no trouble finding the new patch clear across the yard. One of my small Japanese maples has had the ends nibbled on and a new dianthus from Heronswood (more on that in another post) that was doing fantastic, now has been nibbled almost to the ground. Will they survive? The Japanese maple most certainly will but it needs to get some height on it to keep it out of their range. Grow, grow, grow. The dianthus, only time will tell if it can come back from the severe munching it has endured.

So, on this day when spring is attempting to break out, I am reminded that gardening is about more than just the beauty and delight it brings. It's also warfare.

Did I mention that I saw my first daffodil blooming? It was yesterday at the MWH where things are always a bit of ahead of my garden. It was a single solid yellow bloom. As you might imagine, it stood out like a beacon.

The daffodil was a nice reminder. There is joy in the simple pleasures and delights of gardening. But for me, it's back to the war. The voles have issued a challenge.

Even with the voles, you know, I still just .... gotta garden.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Gotta Garden

So, I did it. And here it begins...a place to journal, discuss, exclaim and celebrate all that gardening brings to my life. A place to think aloud...scary, maybe, but I'm ready to try.

Today. A beautiful, glorious day to be outside. Perfect weather. Roses to be pruned and magnolia branches to clean up. Last weekend's storm was not as benign as it seemed. It turns out there's six bags full, four of magnolia and two of rose prunings.

Still, there's time to walk around and see what's popping up. The first of the crocus are blooming, a pale yellow variety that is always early. Surprisingly, a yellow-orange variety with dark stripes on the outside of the petals also has a couple buds open. I don't remember them and part of me wonders if they are the result of seedlings. They are in an area with mixed crocus, but the color is new this year.

The snowdrops continue to hang on. They've been out for a couple weeks. Three patches this year and it reminds me that I'd still like to add a couple more.

Some of the hellebores are blooming. A white with purple splotches and a deep burgundy are returns from last year. New this year are two grown at Pine Knot Farms. One is especially pretty and is from the Pine Knot Strain. I purchased them after hearing the owners give wonderful lectures at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden a couple weeks ago.

Sweet box, daphne odora, viburnum Pink Dawn are about to burst into bloom. The two witch hazels are blooming. The supposed-to-be yellow which is a rich orangey color and my fragrant yellow are not fazed by whatever weather nature brings.

Earlier, part of this perfect day was spent at Mary's House. Mary Washington's House, that is, in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. Volunteering in her garden is satisfying on so many levels. The other gardeners are enjoyable and interesting. Holly the Horticulturist is a wealth of information and makes everyone there feel they make a valuable contribution.

Okay. That's about it for today. This is a learning process and I guess there's nothing like getting started. My husband suggests the name of my blog should be Got Garden?, of course, Got Milk. Maybe. All I know is I just...gotta garden.
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