Saturday, March 17, 2012

Way Ahead & Far Behind

It's madness.  Complete and undisguised madness.  My garden, and its gardener, are a full two weeks ahead of the normal cycle here.  In most years, I avoid starting the Spring cleanup of my garden beds until "Spring Break" here in the Little Apple.  The appearance of small green sprouts at that time often coincides with a little time off work and allows me some uninterrupted efforts at making my muscles sore and my garden tidy.  Often, at this date, the crocus and daffodils will just be poking up and I'll be noticing the first early weed children.  And the beginning of vegetable garden planting?  I'm normally a traditional Saint Patrick's Day planter, looking forward each year to the 17th not for drinking spirits, but for immersing my soul in the soil and thenceforth communing with the peas and seed potatoes.

This year the garden is pushing me out into the fast lane against my will.  Because the roses are leafing out and most of the Spring bulbs are blooming, I've been forced to begin cleanup earlier than ever.  I hate, I really hate, trimming off baby rose leaves once they've opened.  It does not bother me to trim the roses when the leaf buds are still tightly bound, but chopping off that shiny, unblackspotted green infant foliage is more than I can bear.  On Tuesday this week, I panicked and decided it all had to be done at once before my cleanup efforts resulting in trampling all the bulbs underfoot. So, I cleaned, and trimmed roses, and moved roses, and trimmed irises, and just generally gussied up the garden.

I moved, at last, a large 'Josee' lilac that was in the wrong place by first yanking it out by the roots with a rope and my Jeep, and then placing it into a distant site vacated inexplicably by a black currant bush.  The black currant had done well for several years, but this Spring it was not just suddenly and nearly dead, it was really most sincerely dead.  I cut off my coy, non-fruiting bittersweet couple ('Hercules' and 'Diana') in hopes of replacing them with a vine that would add another dimension to the garden beyond merely being a tall green tower.  I'm thinking perhaps of a clematis for the site.  And vegetable planting?  Oh yes, I admit, I planted peas and bib lettuce and broccoli and potatoes and onions a full 10 days before my normal planting time.  I blame the latter impatiences on my fellow Master Gardeners, all of whom were boasting about planting peas at our bimonthly meeting last week.

The forsythia watched all this activity while in full bloom, and the daffodils were already entering their twilight period, and we all knew it had to be done.  According to my historical notes going back to 2004, this early warmth is not unprecedented (2009 and 2005 were similarly early), but this is certainly earlier than the median year. I'm caught up, for now, on these garden chores, yet still far behind readying the Martin houses and spreading mulch and a multitude of other duties.  For now, however, I'm left hoping that Winter does not amuse itself by returning with a late fit of sadistic snow. 


  1. It's interesting to watch how the garden is reacting to the unseasonably warm spell we are experiencing. Forsythia is a little ahead of schedule ... daffodils are early, too. Most of my 'modern' roses are laughing at the calendar and leafing out at a frightening pace. The once-blooming OGRs, though, are not to be fooled by the weather anomoly. They are just now breaking bud, right on schedule. It's going to be a very weird year.

  2. The title post sums it all up, doesn't it?

  3. I have just found you via the world wide web and I too am in Kansas. I need HELP! and I think you are the guy to give me some great advice. I have a long fence in front of my house and I want to plant roses all along it. The problem is...I am not a rosarian. I am a wannabe who doesn't want to do a lot of work on them. Lazy? no...I just have 4 kids and no time to keep a close eye on rust or black spot. So, with all of that being said....can you recomment a white or pink rose that will fill in nicely and do the job? Am I asking for too much? Thank you! Kristine


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