Certainly, every season I learn something new from experiences in my own garden, and as part of Beth at Plant Postings' season meme "Lessons Learned," I'd like to share a few things I have learned this last spring.
|"Tulip Hill" wasn't much of a hill this year--note the chewed off tulips in the center and to the far right.|
1. Rabbits and deer really are pests. For years, I've been bragging how these two critters leave my garden alone. I've empathized with fellow bloggers who have had to resort to all kinds of devices and techniques to keep them out of their gardens, often to no avail. But I sat smugly at my computer and commented that the dogs and maybe the cats kept the deer and rabbits from sticking around long enough to munch on my plants. Obviously, it doesn't pay to be too smug, because this spring they found my garden, too, and I was not a happy gardener!
|A gorgeous double tulip--'Sunlover.' You can see there should have been two blooms here, not one.|
|If I were a rabbit or deer, I'd go for something tasty-sounding, like this 'Sorbet.' But they're not choosy diners.|
2. Winter questions have been answered. In my spring post on "Lessons Learned," I was still wondering about a few experiments I had tried and whether they would be successful. I had babied two 'Encore' azaleas over the winter, encasing them in burlap cages in hopes they would survive what turned out to be one of the worst winters in twenty years. As of a couple of weeks ago, I would have sadly reported that they didn't make it. I was in a state of denial and refused to pull them out for a long time, despite their very corpse-like appearance. But so many plants were slow to emerge this spring, and one morning I looked out at the sidewalk garden, and my hopes began to rise. Could it be? No, those weren't little weeds popping up--there were leaves growing at the bottom of each azalea! I was so excited, I promptly took a photo with my phone and texted my best friend. Call it what you will, sometimes it pays to be a procrastinator or an idealist who refuses to see reality.
|A few small azalea leaves give me hope.|
My last question held over from spring wasn't really an experiment at all--the planting of a new little serviceberry last fall and wondering whether it would survive the winter . . . and Frank the pug's constant "watering" of it. I'm happy to report it had lots of sweet little white blooms this spring and is now covered in red berries that the birds are eating as fast as they can. I've wanted a serviceberry for a long time, so I'm so happy to see it doing well and eager to see it grow even larger in the coming years. And Frank is happy, too, that he's not in trouble:)
3. Spring is the shortest season of the year in Illinois. Or maybe it just seems that way. But this year it certainly was true--winter didn't want to give in, and our last snowfall was in mid-April. By early May temperatures soared, and it seemed as if we went straight into summer, giving us about two or three weeks of true spring. Spring is also the busiest time in the garden for me, making the days fly by even faster. Besides garden clean-up and planting containers and annuals in the garden, I finally got around to a small expansion of the shade garden that I've been wanting to do for some time. I wanted to thin out and divide many of the plants in the original crowded shade area, but between frequent rain showers and warmer temperatures that made everything grow a foot overnight, I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped.
Can you tell where I dug out hostas? Nope, I didn't think so. Oh well, there's always next year to finish this job.
4. Some plants are really happy in my garden, or Mother Nature knows best. While I have killed more plants than I care to remember and have babied others along, disappointed in their reluctance to thrive, there are a few plants that just love it here and continue to multiply.
One of those plants is salvia. I've had two 'May Night' Salvias in the sidewalk garden for nine years, and they have been faithful performers, if not especially eye-catching. But a few years ago I planted a division from our MG garden in the Arbor Bed, and it has not only thrived, but has re-seeded all over the place. I even dug up some stray plants this spring and gave some away to a friend and even (gasp!) threw a few others on the compost pile. I keep intending to dig them all up and transplant them at the back of the garden, because they weren't part of the original planting scheme, but so far haven't accomplished that. If I ever do transplant them all together, I could have my own Mini River of Salvia, ala the Lurie Garden:)
Another happy plant in my garden is the Purple Coneflower. I've had a lot of trouble growing some natives from seeds or even seedlings, but not this beauty! I'm not sure if purists would call Echinacea Purpurea a native plant, but it's close enough. It always re-seeds in my garden, but this year it has outdone itself, spreading to various flowerbeds where it was never planted and covering most of the sidewalk bed. Again, that wasn't part of the plan for the sidewalk bed, but I've given in to Nature's plan and leaving them alone, at least until after they have all finished blooming. In another week or two I should have a buffet feast for the butterflies, bees, and finches!
|Asiatic lily blooms and Salvia from the garden|
Besides linking in with Plant Postings, I'm also linking in with Donna at Gardens Eye View for her Seasonal Celebrations. You can visit both for more looks at the past season with an eye toward the months ahead.