I spent last week’s daylight hours almost exclusively outside. I drank my morning coffee indoors, then put on my gardening gloves and hat and spent the days digging, carting, planting, and shoveling. I calculated on my gardening blog that I spread more than 2 tons of mulch in about 3 days. I was exhausted by the end of the week, but now everything is so pretty I can’t help but just stand at the windows (it’s raining) and admire all the plants that are about to burst into bloom. I ventured out into the drizzle today to capture these early buds and blossoms.
These tulips will open any second now.
The lilac will smell delicious when these blossoms open
The dogwood remains a favorite. I take this same photo every year 😛
Everything hurts. My hands are blistered and cramped, as are my feet. My forearms could use a massage, and my whole body feels like it’s vibrating after two 8-hour days of shoveling, carting, dumping, and spreading mulch. But the front and back beds are done! All that’s left are a couple of small beds on the side of the house. I’m too pooped to do them today. Tomorrow.
Out of curiosity yesterday, I wondered if it were possible that I had moved a ton of mulch. I googled “how much does a cubic yard of mulch weigh” and got an estimate of 400-800 pounds depending on whether the mulch is wet. We bought 12 cubic yards in two dumptruck loads, and I’ve probably moved 10 yards in the past two days, so 4000 lbs. The mulch got drenched by heavy rain after it was delivered, so it was wet and on the heavier side, but I never know how much to trust the googles, so I’m just going to go really conservative and say it’s safe to say that yes, I moved a ton of mulch per day.
Pile 1 at beginning of Tuesday
Front bed mulching in progress
Back bed in progress on Tuesday
Pile 1 is shrinking
Back bed in progress
Pile 1 is almost gone
Pile 2 at beginning of Wednesday
Back bed in progress Wednesday
Pile 2 at end of day Wednesday
Everything looks so pretty 😍.
Before: front bed
After: front bed
Before: back bed
After: back bed
And nearly as exciting as the mulch? After three years of searching for a spicebush, I saw one at Crow’s Nest, my local nursery this week. By Monday, I had already been to the nursery nearly every day since I returned from my trip to Belgrade. When I plopped my plants on the counter at the cash register, the woman who always rings me up saw me, laughed, and said, “Maybe you should get a job here!” I told her I’d probably see her tomorrow, thinking “I won’t see her tomorrow, I’ve gotten everything I need.”
The shortest path to my car was through the shrub section, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tiny yellow flowers of Lindera benzoin, the spicebush: host plant of the spicebush swallowtail and native shrub to our region. I didn’t buy it Monday but did go back on Tuesday, and was embarrassed to be there again for the fourth time in five days.
But now I have a spicebush! I’ve never seen one at the nursery before, and even asked about them the first year I was planning the garden. I thought I’d just not be able to get one and I gave up. And now I’ve got one! I’m so happy 🙂
Every year I forget to fertilize until after I spread mulch, and then I have to move the mulch out of the way around every single plant, sprinkle fertilizer, then cover it back again. At this point we probably have 100 plants, and the thought of fertilizing that way makes me want to cry.
This year I did not repeat that mistake. I spent this morning fertilizing all the beds, and I was just putting the bag away when the first load of mulch arrived. I also edged the back bed, divided the hostas, planted a vervain, and stopped to admire our rhodedendrons and the violets that pop up out back every spring.
Edging back bed
Once the mulch arrived, I procrastinated by eating a snack. It’s a lot of mulch.
First load of mulch
Second load of mulch
Untouched pile 1
After spreading 10 wheelbarrows full, it doesn’t look like I’ve done a thing.
Good thing I’m taking the whole week off to do this 😬.
I returned from a work trip to Belgrade, Serbia on Friday. Spring had arrived there — with pears, cherries, and tulips in bloom — and I could not wait to get home after a successful conference to take a week off for my annual gardening vacation.
Today was warm and sunny, and I drove to the nursery with the car windows open. Katy Perry came on the radio and I turned it up and roared Roar. I was one of those people that make me happy when I see them, singing full-throated like a pop star on a stage when really they’re all alone in their car.
I worked on the bed below the front door, moving a yarrow and the Little Bluestem grasses I grew from seed. I loved the bed in the summer, but in winter it was pretty bleak. I’m grouping the grasses in hopes that their dry golden blades will become more attractive when clumped as a focal point and covered in frost.
While I was working from the garden today, the next door neighboor bunnies were holding a convention. I tried to get a photograph of all 3 or 4 of them together, but they were too quick. I just got this one.
Deer munched all my New England asters and the blue wheat I was growing in the bed in front of our house. It’s the most important bed, being the one that leads up to our front door.
This weekend I bought a bunch of stuff to re-do it. I moved the asters into the middle of the bed, behind a barrier of lavender and nepeta (catmint), which I hear deer don’t like the smell of. I’m sure they’ll just step all over everything and eat the asters anyway, so I took some photos in case this is the one day it looks okay. Although, if it survives our neighborhood herd of deer, it will look much better when everything fills in.
Newly planted front bed
Sunflower with yarrow in foreground
Waiting for flowers
I’ve also gone crazy for ornamental grasses this year. Look how pretty!
On Saturday, while our daughter was at swim practice, I went to Lowe’s to find the Eragrostis elliotti ‘Wind Dancer Lovegrass’ that I had seen last weekend, before my June garden budget was funded. At the time it was still May, and I saw these gorgeous, graceful grasses shoved on the bottom shelf of a rolling rack. They looked like they were waiting to be put out on the ornamental grasses display. I had never seen them or heard of them before, and a quick search told me not only are they not invasive, they’re native. I took pictures of the tags so I could come back for them on June 1.
When I went to Lowe’s on Saturday, the rack was gone, and the grasses were not on display. My heart fell because these grasses were exactly what I wanted. They’d go in a windy spot, and they’d dance in the breeze that is constantly blowing. I walked every aisle three times before I gave up.
Since I had nothing to purchase, I checked the discount rack — all the plants they forgot to water or that look too imperfect to get full price for. And on the $5 rack, there were my grasses! At full price I would have only been able to buy two.
I bought four.
I sit on the back deck now and watch them wave in the wind. Hopefully I can save them from the near death they were experiencing at Lowes in their too-small pots.
I’m really happy with how the back hill is coming along.
One of my favorite parts of working from home is that on nice days, I can take my laptop under the shade of the dogwood tree and work from the garden. For Mother’s Day, our daughter gave me a cushion for my garden chair, so now I can work for longer outside.