May 23: first caterpillar of the season

I’ve been checking the rue for swallowtail caterpillars, and I saw my first one of 2022 this morning.

Swallowtail caterpillar on rue

I’ve been checking the swamp milkweeds to see if they’d come back. I was getting nervous because they seemed to take longer this year than in previous years. Three of the five have finally re-emerged; I’ll need to replace the other two so the monarch caterpillars don’t run out of food.

The fescue and scabiosa are blooming, and as is the norm these days, I saw a bunny in the bed, nibbling away at the goldenrod.

Fescue in bloom
Hello bunny

May 8: garden status

Everything’s a lot greener than it was a month ago. The trees have leaves, and the perennials are starting to fill in.

Back hill, raised bed, and trees with leaves
Front lobe still filling in, but the dogwood and gum trees have leaves
The roses are filling in with leaves, and the lilac, nepeta, and salvia are blooming
The salvia by the mailbox is in its glory

May 6: new plantings – annuals and herbs

The forecast called for thunderstorms today, but lucky for me, since I took a day off, the rain didn’t come until late in the day. I took the chance to put some annuals in the ground (and some herbs in the raised bed) so they can get watered in naturally.

The back garden and raised bed

Apr 17: garden status — blooming trees, salvia, and tulips

The grass is greening, more perennials are starting to push up leaves, and the dogwood, redbud, and first tulips and salvias are blooming.

Dogwood starting to bloom
Back hill

Mar 23: rain and rest

I always take a lot of photos this time of year because I’m eager for every bit of new growth each day. It’s easy to see progress when everything is starting fresh; I walk the garden multiple times a day to see if anything new has emerged.

Today it rained most of the day, which is excellent for the garden, and also for me since I need a break. I took my camera out in the drizzle to record some of the stuff going on.

Mar 22: mulching done

I finished spreading the second pile of mulch today. This year I didn’t need to spread it as thickly as last year when I needed to start the new bed; 15 yards covered all the beds, including along the side of the house, gave me enough to spread a little at the base of the oak tree, and I have about 4 wheelbarrows full to touch up areas where I dig throughout the summer and need to re-mulch around new plantings.

All in all, it took me 4 days to spread all the mulch.

Mar 21: first mulch pile done, plus Oriental Poppy

I finished spreading the first pile of mulch. It covered all the front beds and most of the new back bed I built last year.

But before I started spreading, I made one more trip to the nursery to get another bag of fertilizer, and I also came home with an Oriental Poppy. I saw some in bloom last year on my walks around town, and they were stunning, and I wanted my own. So when I saw some at the nursery, I grabbed one. I’m not sure how it will do, but it’s worth a shot.

Here’s what the first pile of mulch covered:

March 6: Garden cleanup; lots of things emerging

I want to believe the warm weather is here to stay, though I know from the forecast that it’s not. Still, it was warm here this weekend, and I took full advantage of it to get the garden cleaned up. I pruned roses, cut back ornamental grasses, raked leaves out of flower beds, moved lavenders, transplanted hydrangea, and kicked poor performers to the curb.

As I worked, I smelled fresh mint in the mint patch. I listened to birds chirp and leaves rustle in a warm breeze. I was surprised by the first forsythia blossom. When I pulled away dead debris and raked out leaves that have insulated the ground these last 5 months, I found leaves emerging underneath – sedum, tulips, columbine, goldenrod.

Feb 13: Plans for the back hill

To do

I finally figured out a way to plot out plants in a way that I can visualize how they’ll look in the space. I photographed the back beds, then annotated the photos using Preview on my mac. I had to combine two pictures to get a full panorama of the back hill, but I think I’ve finally (mostly) gotten to a point where next time it’s warm enough to work in the garden, I know which plants to move and where. I’m hopeful I can get most everything moved before my gardening vacation in March, when I’ll mulch.

I want to rearrange everything: every circle shown here is a plant I need to move 😬

Already done

These are the plants I’ve already moved; I shifted my work day earlier Friday so I could take advantage of warm temperatures to work in the garden.

This is the bed I created in February of 2021. In its first season, I sowed seeds for annuals (zinnias, dill, and Mexican sunflowers), but they took too long to come in, and I am not patient. Then, once they exploded in bloom, they were messy and too tall. So this year I’ll try something different. I’ve moved a bunch of perennials, some of which are early bloomers and some are later. I also plotted a little path through them so that it’s not just a giant rectangle and it has a little more organic shape.

I’m excited for the next warm day so I can start working on the rest of the hill.

May 2: buds and early bloomers

The oak tree suddenly has leaves, and the salvia are blooming. The blossoms of tulips, dogwoods, and redbud begin to fade, but the yarrow, dwarf lilac, roses, rue, and scabiosa all have flower buds. The orlaya came back and its buds are opening, too. I see the beginnings of flower buds on a few echinacea, and a nepetas’ blue blossoms sprinkle the air above their silvery green leaves.

I put in a passionflower today, along with 3 blanket flowers and 2 scarlet and orange milkweeds. I’ve got my fingers crossed for the passionflower. I hope it will last.

Tulips in morning sun
Salvia in bloom
Ladybug and rose bud
Scabiosa buds
The summer bloomers are putting out leaves, and the back bed is starting to fill in

Apr 18: redbuds and dogwoods in bloom

I went for a walk around the neighborhood today. Pink and magenta redbuds contrast with the chartreuses of fresh leaves. The earth is lush and coming back to life.

Redbud blossoms on our tree
Creeping phlox on my walk
Dogwood flower on our tree
Maple seeds on my walk
Garden at the UU church around the corner
My outdoor office
The back bed; it will flower in summer.
Redbud blossoms at the site of a missing branch
This is the greenest the grass will be all year