Christmas approached, and I meant to wish everyone a Merry Christmas . . . but I was busy shopping, cleaning, decorating, cleaning, wrapping, cleaning . . . that I missed posting again.
Now that the holidays are nearing an end, there is finally time to sit back and reflect on the year that has passed. Like the Facebook posting that so many of us participated in, 2014 really was a great year, especially in the garden.
2014 certainly didn't start off on a good note, however. We had one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, with snowplow drivers putting in hours of overtime and school officials worrying about the number of snow days adding up. There was plenty of time for completing indoor projects and poring through seed catalogs.
But as the weeks dragged on and winter showed no signs of leaving, gardeners in my part of the country started to get antsy. Not much to do but keeping the bird feeders filled and enjoy the birds visiting outside my window.
In late March I made a trip south to visit my daughter in Dallas. Thank goodness, spring had arrived there! I spent a day visiting the Dallas Arboretum during their annual Bulb Festival, where my longing for spring color was satisfied, temporarily.
Back at home in early April, the first signs of spring were beginning to emerge. Crocuses, blooming much later than other years, were the first to brave the cold, besides the snowdrops. But winter wasn't over yet--a snowshower in mid-April glazed the opening hyacinths and early daffodils, making me wonder if winter was ever going to end!
|April 30, 2014|
But the longest winter ever finally gave in to spring by the end of April, as the many tulips in my garden began to open alongside late daffodils.
Regular readers may remember that spring is my favorite season of the year, and that I absolutely love tulips!
I probably spend more time just wandering through the garden in the spring than any other time of the year, marveling at each new bloom that appears. In fact, my idea of heaven is an eternal spring--filled with tulips.
One downside this past year was that deer and/or rabbits also discovered my tulips. They destroyed only a small fraction of the tulip population here; still, I hope that next year they will find tasty treats somewhere other than my garden.
But, of course, it's not just tulips and other spring bulbs that attract attention this time of year. 'Jack Frost' Brunnera and other spring bloomers are favorites, too.
The shade garden in early May shows not only tulips, but the bleeding heart, Brunnera, and emerging foliage that took over the whole area by late June.
When summer arrived, it was time for the lilies to put on their display. Some of the newer lilies like this Oriental, 'Stargazer,' put on a growth spurt this year and were more prolific bloomers than in years past.
The older ones continued to multiply and reminded me that it is past time to divide them--a job that has been put on the to-do list for 2015.
Despite the already crowded conditions in the Lily Bed, my friend Beckie and I took a trip to our favorite daylily farm in August, and of course, I came home with several new beauties. I found temporary homes for each of them in any bare spot of soil I could find, but I realized the idea I had for a new garden bed was more than just a dream, but a necessity for next year.
The summer of 2014 was one of the best years for gardening in my memory. Plentiful rainfall throughout the season created ideal conditions for growing, and rarely did I have to drag out the hoses other than to water containers. There were only a few days of miserably hot weather--unlike the norm--so that I could enjoy working in the garden nearly every day. The only negative I can think of about this summer is that it wasn't a good year for butterflies. They were conspicuously absent for most of the summer, although the coneflowers, as always, brought out the few there were.
And speaking of coneflowers, it was a fantastic year for them, When I say I had a lot of coneflowers, I mean a plethora of coneflowers! No wonder it's one of my all-time favorite flowers--they make me look like I have a bright green thumb:)
I always enjoy pleasant surprises in the garden, and this past summer included several of them, including the surprise appearance of gray-headed coneflowers, Ratibida pinnata, which I have tried to grow for several years. Some variety of Helenium also appeared in the Butterfly Garden for the first time; I'm not sure if they were seedlings that took a long time to mature or seeds I scattered in a previous year and long-forgotten, but whatever their origin, I was so happy to see them.
One of the highlights of 2014 was definitely attending the Portland Fling in July. Three wonderful days of meeting new gardening friends and seeing so many fabulous gardens was an experience I will long remember. The only negative to the whole trip was the heat the first two days, but gardeners can be a little creative in finding ways to cool off:)
Another memorable road trip was much closer to home as Beckie and I travelled to Janesville, Wisconsin in September to meet up with Beth of Plant Postings for a tour of the Rotary Botanical Gardens. This is a botanical garden definitely worth visiting, and it was so much fun to meet Beth in person. In fact, we hope to do it again in 2015 and hope some other nearby bloggers might join us--we'll keep you posted! (And I promise I'm going to write a post on this garden very soon.)
Summer slowly morphed into autumn, and the 'Limelight' Hydrangea grew taller than ever before.
As summer perennials faded, annuals kept up the color. Different varieties of cosmos bloomed all summer long up until the first frost.
All the rainfall through the summer and into the fall meant a banner year for annuals, including one of my favorites, the 'Zowie Yellow Flame' zinnia, still blooming here in mid-October.
Fall also brought the butterflies at long last. Although my attempts at growing milkweed this year were a failure, the butterflies found the zinnias an attractive alternative.
The asters put on their usual show in September, sharing space with goldenrod as the two took over most of my Butterfly Garden.
In mid-October I had another surprise as two tall plants finally burst into bloom in the Butterfly Garden. Several readers confirmed my suspicion that these are Aster tataricus, a tall late aster, but I am still scratching my head over how they came to be here. I'll probably never know.
Not a surprise, but a plant that certainly made me happy--after years of waiting, the Japanese Anemones finally leapt this year and produced an abundance of blooms.
As if to make up for the awful winter, fall was a glorious time, full of beautiful color and mild weather that lasted longer than most years. There was ample to time to plant spring bulbs and complete fall chores, though I always seem to think of more I wish I had done.
But all good things must come to an end, and on October 30 we had our first killing frost.
Although the frost brought an end to the annuals and other blooms, there were a few vignettes of beauty that lasted awhile longer as this photo, one of my favorites from the past year, shows.
We haven't had any measurable snow this winter; the light covering above occurred a week before Thanksgiving. December has been more like a typical November, rainy and gloomy, though we had a beautiful sunny day on Christmas Day. The year is ending on a much milder note than it began.
Mild temperatures through the summer, an extended fall, and most of all, plentiful rain meant 2014 was a wonderful year to be in the garden.
Oh, and did I mention that we have a new grandson born just before Christmas? Yes, indeed, 2014 was a great year!
I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas,
and I wish you all health and happiness and, of course,
the best gardening season ever in the coming New Year!