"April is the cruellest month..."
I'm not quite sure what the great Mr. Eliot meant by this; personally, I never liked February. For gardeners, though, especially this year, I think March probably has to be the cruellest month of all--teasing us with a little sunshine, a day of warmth here and there, and then laughing at us with a downpour, a hailstorm, or even one more snowstorm.
My friend Beckie of Dragonfly Corner and I have found the cure for this year's spring blues, though. We attended an open house and series of workshops at a local garden center today. What fun! We were greeted as we walked in by trays and trays of bright pansies in all colors .
Our first session was on adding whimsy in the garden, taught by a professor of horticulture at the University of Illinois. She entertained us as well as informed us, demonstrating her ideas with various plants selected from the center. I especially liked the idea that you don't have to plant masses of the same plant, as long as you repeat a color or mound shape. That reassured me because I tend to plant a variety of plants, because I'm always finding something new I want to try.
The second session was on "Shady Characters," a topic I'm particularly interested in since I added more space to my tiny shade garden last fall. Besides the usual hostas, she showed a variety of perennials and even a few annuals for shady spots. My favorites of the annuals had to be the primulas, which I assume have to be related to the primrose. Just look at this candy-pink flower! My camera doesn't do it justice; Beckie and I both commented that it looked as if someone had painted it.
And if you don't like pink, they come in nearly every color. Wouldn't these really catch your eye in the shade? I am going to buy a whole flat of these as soon as the weather gets a little warmer.
We attended two more sessions: one on caring for roses and one on annuals. I'll let Beckie discuss the roses--I'm too intimidated by them. The annual talk was great, though. The speaker, a Master Gardener, brought in photos from last year of her garden as well as the Idea Garden on the U of I campus, since the annuals in the greenhouse are still very small. I wish I had taken pictures of her photos! I came away with lots of new ideas I can't wait to try this year. Two annuals she specifically recommended were Euphorbia "Diamond Blast," which she called a "froth of white" in containers, and "Raspberry Blast" supertunia. The small specimen of euphorbia she had gave no indication of how beautiful it can be as we later saw in the photos. This is one annual I am definitely going to include in containers this year. The raspberry supertunia is one I actually planted last year, and I agree it's a beauty.
By 2:00 Beckie and I were suffering from low blood sugar or just plain starvation, so we didn't stay for the next session on hypertufa pots. Too bad; I'm going to lie awake all night wondering what hypertufa is. After a much-needed lunch, we capped the day by stopping at the Master Gardeners Idea Garden on campus. Nothing is blooming yet (now I don't feel so bad about my lack of blooms), but we intend to make it a frequent stop during the summer to see how their garden grows. Look for it on later posts.
All in all, a great way to lift our moods after this long, hard winter.
(Check out Dragonflycorner, too, for another view of our day.)