Friday, March 30, 2012

It's Still March=Frost Damage

Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'
So after work yesterday I was taking my walkabout around the yard, and noticed that several plants in the garden were affected by the frost we had earlier in the week. The anemones were what I noticed first, lots of tender new growth was browned and wilted, and then I saw the hydrangeas--the Endless Summer hydrangea, 'Nikko Blue', 'Limelight', and various lacecaps all have frost damage on the new baby growth. I know they will recover but I wonder how it will affect the blooms?

Droopy anemone
But happily the new daffodils ('Flower Record') that I planted last fall are blooming, and most important of all, the tree peony buds are fine. It's hard to remember that it's not even April yet when we have had 70+ degree weather during the days, and when the nurseries are selling annuals already. The last frost date for our area is April 30 and I usually abide by that, waiting until May 1 (or late April) to plant tender annuals. But another month! Another month!

Narcissus 'Flower Record'
Red tree peony

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Garden This Morning


Iris pallida



Variegated Solomon's Seal


Cherry Tree

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Miss Rumphius

Last week a patron in the library asked me for a children's book about flowers, and I was so excited to realize that it was an old favorite of mine, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. It is a book that brings back so many memories for me, as it was a favorite book of Julia's when she was little and for awhile there we were kind of obsessed with all things lupine. I wish I could tell you how many lupine plants I have planted. They are a biennial, and not really suited to the hot and humid weather here in Virginia, but I have certainly given them my best shot. Even when Julia was in high school and college, I would buy lupine plants when she came home in the spring and put them in the garden. My friend JoAnn still calls Julia "Little Lupine" to this day.

Miss Rumphius is the story of an old woman, Alice Rumphius, who lives by the sea and is called the Lupine Lady. At the beginning of the book we see Alice as a little girl sitting with her grandfather, talking to him about how she wants to travel the world when she grows up, and then go live by the sea. Her grandfather tells her that she must do one more thing--do something to make the world more beautiful. And so in the book we see Alice grow up, become a librarian, travel through jungles and across deserts, to tropical islands, and to the tops of mountains. And when she is older, she finds a place to live by the sea. And then she realizes that she has one more thing that she must do: she must do something to make the world more beautiful. "Lupines," said Miss Rumphius with satisfaction, "I have always loved lupines the best." And so she decides to scatter lupine seeds "along the highways and down the country lanes. She flung handfuls of them around the school house and back of the church. The next spring there were lupines everywhere. Fields and hillsides were covered with blue and purple and rose-colored flowers." It is a sweet little book with a nice message, and the illustrations (also by Barbara Cooney) are wonderful.

Maine lupines,  by Eileen

Now I plant larkspur, which while not quite the same as lupines,  have the same blues, purples, and rose colors and they self sow throughout the garden so you get that mass effect of color every year. Eileen has been to Maine in the spring when the lupines are blooming and she took these pictures. They are straight out of Miss Rumphius.  Now I just have to get to Maine in the spring someday...And in the meantime, maybe I'll plant some lupines this spring!

Maine lupines, by Eileen 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Family Weekend

Walt, Pat, Jack

It was great to have some of our family from Ohio visiting the DC area this weekend.  Pat and Jack came to DC on Saturday as Jack is beginning an internship this morning at an architectural firm on Capitol Hill. So on Sunday morning we met up with them in DC to have brunch at Matchbox on Capitol Hill. Jack seems excited about starting his job and about living in DC--I'm sure he will have a great experience here. After a brunch of banana bread french toast and waffles--and bacon of course-- for us,  and pizza for Jack, we walked around Eastern Market for a while and then they were off to see the cherry blossoms and Walt and I headed home. Luckily it turned out to be a pretty nice day for them to walk around the city.

 In the afternoon we went to Bob and Carol's to celebrate Keenan's 11th birthday. Aunt Peg and Uncle Tom had come to town on Friday with Kenny and Diane, so it was great to see them and all be together.  Rick and Victoria and their kids were there too, and we all watched the Kansas-UNC game and everyone but me and Walt seemed happy that Kansas won. We had a great dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs along with potato salad, black bean salad, and fruit, and an ice cream cake for dessert. We have such a good time with the Langes, and always have lots of laughs!
Carol at the grill
Rick and Bob

Keenan opening presents
When we got home we watched the first half of Mad Men, and we were both a little disappointed. Seemed a little flat, I hope the action picks up for Don Draper and crew.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Fleurs

Daffodil 'Acropolis'
This daffodil reminds me of heavy cream. Isn't it a beauty? So pure and creamy. And the snowdrops are up this week--they are spectacular right now. They are the tall Galanthus, which are not so easy to find, mostly you see the small snowdrops, but these are really showy and spread easily so now I have several large clumps throughout my front perennial bed. I ordered these many years ago from the Dutch Gardens catalog.

Peg and Tom are driving to Maryland today with Kenny and Diane for Keenan's 11th birthday. We were planning to go there for dinner tonight to celebrate Keenan's birthday, but Carol called this morning and Keenan has a 102 temperature, so hopefully we will see them on Sunday if Keenan is feeling better. Happy Birthday, Keenan! 

Tall snowdrops (Galanthus)

Dogwood leafing out

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Remember how I said yesterday that my viburnum carlesii would be blooming later this week? Well it was blooming later last night. I swear, everything is in super time this spring, things blooming so fast it's hard to keep up, as we're just not ready for it.  What will it be like in June, will everything have already bloomed? But my virburnum is heavenly right now, the fragrance is overwhelming and I wish you could push your nose right into one of these pictures and smell the sweet, spicy scent.

Even the birds want to live within

The flowers start pink and open into white florets

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Early Morning Walk

Viburnum 'Carlesii'
My viburnum 'carlesii' is getting ready to bloom! Also called the koreanspice viburnum, it has the most amazing fragrance, and because it is right next to the sidewalk in front of my house, people walking by always comment about it. When it is blooming, I can smell it when I walk out of the house. It is covered in buds like these and it should bloom later this week.  I love walking around town and seeing what is happening in other people's yards. After nine months of taking pictures almost every day, it is even more of a miracle this year to see the colors of spring appearing. Even though it hasn't been much of a winter, it was gray and colorless nonetheless and when I see anything starting to show color, I am so excited and I am taking pictures!

Weeping cherry

Pretty daffs

Gillian's yard

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lovely Cherry Blossoms

At the last minute I decided to take the metro downtown yesterday afternoon and meet Walt after work so that we could see the cherry blossoms. It was kind of cloudy and overcast when we first got there, but as we started the walk around the Tidal Basin the sun came out and it was absolutely beautiful. It is so fun to see so many different people enjoying the blooms--tourists, families, people getting off work, reporters from the local stations. Everyone is in a good mood under the cherry blossoms. We walked the entire loop around the Tidal  Basin and I'm glad we did because there is a certain stretch which definitely has the "money views," because that's where all the tv cameras and the professional photographers are set up.

Cherry Blossom time is a major event here in DC. We hear forecasts weeks in advance and every night on the news and in the morning paper there is a cherry blossom report.  Well, it's officially cherry blossom time, with the peak bloom expected today, three weeks earlier than usual. The cherry trees as you all know were a gift from the people of Japan and 3,020 trees of different varieties were planted in 1912. Today, about 125 of the original trees survive, and most are of 2 varieties, 'Yoshino' and 'Kwansan.' Here you can see some of the oldest trees. I love the shapes and twisted textures of these old trees, and the way they lean way out over the water. In some spots you have to duck under the branches.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cherry Blossom Time

The cherry blossoms in DC and in Herndon are blooming! That is my cherry tree above, but we hope to get downtown this week to see the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. They are supposed to be at peak bloom tomorrow, and rain is coming later in the week, so I need to get down there in the next few days. They are blooming 3 weeks early this year, more evidence of the bizarro winter we have had.

I got some things done in the garden yesterday, mostly weeding in the front garden--there seem to be so many more weeds this year. I guess a lot of them never died off.  It is painstaking weeding around all the emerging perennials. One clump of lychnis had so much grass growing through it that I had to dig up the whole clump and pull it apart to get out the grass. I also trimmed up my lavenders, something every book tells you not to do in the spring (you're supposed to do it in the fall), but I always cut mine back and they bloom just fine.  I planted this row of lavenders ('Munstead') when I first made this garden back in 1990, and most of them still survive. I think I have had to replace one.

I also put one peony ring in place. Last year was the first year I used these peony rings and they work great, keeping the peonies from flopping over with their heavy blooms.

Golden oregano
Daffodil 'Thalia'

Brooks came over for corned beef and cabbage last night, which we had a day late for St. Patrick's Day. Then we watched Ohio University beat South Florida in an exciting game, and it is the first time OU has made it to the Sweet Sixteen since 1964--the year my brother played on their team and they went on to the Final Eight! I was telling Walt  that I can remember how excited everyone was at the time (especially my parents) and I didn't really understand what the big deal was (I was 12)! Now they will play UNC on Friday, which will be fun, as Julia will be rooting for UNC of course.