There's a bright new look on everything.Today, at 8:07 p.m. EDT, spring officially tiptoes through the door. We've been waiting all winter for her arrival, and the last couple of weeks has seen the gardens gearing up for it. I am once again doing daily walk-throughs in search of new growth. Oh, and legend has it you can stand a raw egg on end today. It's true! You can! I've done it! (Psssst.....you can do it on the other 364 days of the year, too.)
I take my camera as I walk, and I am loving the macro feature on my Canon A710. It's the best digital camera I've ever owned as far as the wonderful detail it is capable of recording. Any blurriness you see in the pictures I post here are purely due to operator error, because it has proven time and again that it has the ability to capture the most minute details beautifully. I can only imagine the kinds of things it could do if I would bother to read the manual.
I was surprised to wake up to freezing rain yesterday. I thought we were done with that nonsense. By day's end, however, we had reached 50° and we've been promised it will continue to warm as the week goes on.
Did you know there were 5000 species of ladybugs? This baby one, whose picture I took on Sunday, is Coleomegilla maculata. Who comes up with these names anyway?
I planted 'Dragon's Blood' sedum (Sedum spurium) in the fall of 2005. It is never as bloody red as it is when the temperatures are cooler. It will take on a more greenish cast in the heat of summer.
My mom gave me this Japanese Fantail Willow (Salix sachalinensis). I didn't pay really close attention to it last summer, but when fall came and it lost its leaves, it demanded that I take a closer look. Florists love this bush for its fused and twisted branches, although I've heard more than one person call it ugly. I happen to be drawn to the unusual, so I like it. I have it underplanted with 'Limelight' Artemisia and it's one of my favorite pairings.
I'm a sucker for variegated foliage and this Arum italicum, also known as Lords and Ladies, is just getting started in my shade garden. I'm hoping it blooms this year and goes on to get the beautiful orange berry clusters I've seen in the nursery catalogs.
In the little semi-circular area near the entrance to our house, I have tried many different plantings over the years, with little success against the hot west summer sun and winds. Then two years ago, I noticed that the sedum I'd planted there not only survived, but was thriving. I figured "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and now that entire area is 80% planted with sedum. Sometimes you learn from experience.
Last year was the first year for my 'Replete' daffodils (Narcissus). I was not pleased with them. The color and form were both less than desirable, and they definitely didn't look like the pictures in the catalogs. I'm amazed that this one was named 1995 Daffodil of the Year. Maybe it's my soil, maybe it's the location, or maybe it takes a few years before it reaches true maturity. If it is as ugly this year as it was last year, I think I'll dig them up and relegate them to the 'Orphan Garden.'
There's nothing here that gives perspective to show how tiny these new Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) leaves are. The largest leaf is no more than half an inch across. They're so cute when they're little.
Last year, Jenna told me about a tree she saw near her apartment that she loved and that I must buy one. She didn't know the name of it, but after some back-and-forth discussion, she finally remembered she'd seen one where I work. I knew then that she was referring to the tulip Magnolia tree outside the lab window. I did buy one (Magnolia 'Jane'), just because Jenna wanted me to, and I made her promise to come home every year while it was in bloom. Yesterday, I noticed that the fuzzy buds set last fall are starting to break open. In a few weeks, we should see some beautiful mauve pink blossoms. And Jenna.
I splurged last spring and bought a beautiful Zen water fountain at Menard's. Around the base, I planted Creeping Wire Vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris). It's a 'steppable,' meaning it's a pretty tough little plant that will take light foot traffic. It's also hardy to zone 5, so even though it's looking pretty bronzey right now, I expect it to start growing green from the crown when the weather warms enough.
I'll let the silhouette of our large Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) against last night's setting sun speak for itself...