Thinking of Spring

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

During the first ten days of January, the weather has been mild. Colder and more “normal” weather is in store, but spring is ever on my mind.

The seed catalogs continue to arrive, and I continue to enjoy them. The DUTCH GARDENS spring planting 2012 catalog arrived the other day, and although my order is not complete, I have a list already started. There are several new oriental lilies that look promising. With some space remaining in the “apple tree garden” and a little space left in the “pine tree garden,” there will be room for all. BLUESTONE PERENNIALS has been read, the list has been Brailled, and an order has been submitted. Those plants are scheduled to arrive in mid-May, which will be just perfect. They will mostly replace perennials that have died off in the old perennial garden.

It is always fun to try something new. Last June, at the Master Gardner’s Polk County Garden Tour, I saw some impressive ligularias growing in the shade. They had large leaves, and yellow flower spikes. Not knowing which one to order from BLUESTONE, I ordered them both! There is plenty of room for them under the viburnum bush in the southwest corner of the garden. Beth is trying some Anchusa and some thermopsis, whatever they are. The Anchusa are supposed to grow four feet tall with blue flowers. I like big plants, so I’ll enjoy watching them grow. The thermopsis bloom yellow, but that is all I know.

The early forced bulbs have been a disappointment. I gave the paperwhite narcissus until January 1 to bloom. They failed to do so, so they went out into the trash. I thought that perhaps the bulbs had been damaged, but they were large and firm. Their leaf growth was prolific and healthy. I called GARDENING TODAY on W.H.O. on Sunday morning, seeking answers. The bulbs may have been defective, or I may have indeed given them too much of a chilling period outdoors, resulting in cold weather damage to the flower buds. I’ll try again next year.

My iris reticulata are also doing poorly. The leaf growth looks good, but I haven’t given up on them blooming yet. I won’t wait forever, and soon they will have a “bloom or die” date.

There is better news on the current forced bulbs I’ve brought in for a bloom show. The Dutch Master, or King Alfred daffodils I brought in, are showing buds. The delph blue hyacinths are also showing bud spikes. My goal is to have the daffodils bloom by Beth’s birthday, January 25. If they don’t make it, it’ll be close.

Out in the sun room, on the south table, other pots of forced bulbs are forging ahead. The purple crocus will be budding soon. Several pots of hyacinths are already showing their bud spikes. The tulips have also broken ground, and should bloom in March.

And while we’re out in the sun room, the Christmas cactus is quickly losing its luster. It’ll rest until spring, when hopefully it’ll exhibit some new growth outdoors. The scented geraniums are tall, leggy and ugly. They will get a severe trim outdoors this May. My two “Springfield violet” zonal geraniums are doing well, and showing some new growth and blooms. They are getting tall and leggy as well, and will be severely cut back in May.

I have already completed the Braille labels for the BLUESTONE order, and they’ve been affixed to markers. The same will occur with my DUTCH GARDENS order, once it is complete.

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