It’s Time to Order Seeds

There was a time, not so long ago, when printed seed catalogs would start to arrive shortly after Thanksgiving and continue to arrive into March at my house.

These days, between the mail slowdown because of the pandemic and sustainability policies that many garden catalog companies have put in place, printed catalogs are few and far between. And that’s just fine. I don’t know many gardeners that don’t go online–or have the ability to have someone help them with that.

But without the annual reminder of the flood of seed catalogs, it may not be the first thing in some people’s minds that now is when to order for best selection–especially if, like me, you live in a cold place with frozen ground. Putting seeds in that ground–which might not thaw for months yet–isn’t foremost in my mind either.

I do remember last year though. Many varieties of seeds sold out early because of the pandemic. They are likely to do so again this year. So if you have your heart set on something, order now, even if you can’t plant for months.

Once the weather warms up, you’ll be so glad that you did!

Imperfect Chilling

Forced Hyacinth

If you knew me, you could think that the title of this post refers to this winter and me! Even though it has been abnormally mild, I am still constantly cold. My running commentary is that I own a coat that’s supposed to keep me warm down to minus 7 (Fahrenheit) and I am still frozen in that!

Needless to say, I don’t buy the idea that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. If I don’t own enough layers for my very temperate climate, I have no idea how people fare in really cold places.

But what this post is actually about is the hyacinth, above. It’s blooming–in fact, I am not sure if you can tell, but there’s 2 flowers in bloom there. And I am reaping all the benefits of the forcing like the scent. But it’s not the most attractive thing I have ever seen.

What’s happened is that the bulb didn’t get a decent period of chill. I am not quite sure why it decided to bloom anyway. None of the other bulbs are showing signs of blooming yet.

But just to be sure, I have moved them to a cooler spot so that they stay cool a while longer. It’s only been 6-7 weeks. That’s a little early for bloom, as you can see.

But this was a nice surprise!

Inside and Outside

Oxalis regenellii Irish Mist

This lovely bulb spent the summer outside on my slate steps. It’s an eastern area where I stage a lot of my house plants for the summer. I received the bulbs last February, probably started them in April and have been enjoying them ever since.

The common “weed” oxalis

Normally I shy away from plants that look like weeds, particularly weeds that I struggle with– and the common weed oxalis, also known as wood sorrel, is a huge problem for me. You can see it here in one of my pots. I wish I could say it was just in one of my pots. It’s in almost all of them.

The problem with the weedy version of this plant is that it can produce as many as 60,000 seeds (no, that is not a typo–I meant 60K) per plant. You can see 2 plants alone in this container so do the math. Suffice it to say weedy is an understatement.

The cultivated bulbs have no such issues. The biggest issue is below.

Two oxalis started from bulbs in November

These bulbs arrived in the fall and were started immediately. You can see the difference between them and the spring started bulbs. To say I am disappointed is an understatement but I am not surprised.

Unfortunately these bulbs were only available in the fall so this was my only choice. But if I can nurse them through the winter, perhaps getting them outside where air circulation and some strong sun will strengthen their stems (gradually of course) will salvage these. Time will tell. I hope so,though. One of these varieties is supposed to have stunning flowers. Stay tuned….

Lingering Sadness

It’s January. The Christmas tree is down–in fact it is down by the road awaiting pickup and recycling by the town.

All the extra lights–and light–from the holiday are put away so the house seems darker now. And while we are past the winter solstice, so sunsets are very gradually getting later, at this moment, it is still difficult to tell. The one pleasure is that winter sunrises and sunsets tend to be lovely.

But this very cold and dark time of year is always a time of sadness when it is difficult to look forward to the coming spring and the gardens. This year it even more difficult with the news of each day and the pandemic. I try to keep my consumption of that to a minimum and even then, the sadness is sometimes almost unbearable.

Still, I have a lovely crop of forced hyacinths coming along, as well as some new amaryllis. These days, that may be the best I can hope for until warmer weather (which of course could be any day now–we have had some crazy warmth in between the snow and ice).

And before I know it, it will be time to get back out and do a little pruning and weeding–true balm for my soul.

Until then, I will keep my news consumption to a minimum and take walks with the dog. And maybe even start a few more bulbs.

Welcome 2021!

I usually do a post about my “gardening resolutions” for the new year but this year just having survived 2020 may be all that I need to say–and be extremely grateful for.

It’s a little difficult to know quite what to decide about this year’s garden. I suspect that this gardening year will be much like last, with restrictions and limitations still in place because of the pandemic. So perhaps I will resolve the following:

I have much to focus on without leaving my property. I need to attend more to maintenance;

Any new projects and planting that I do, I will attempt to make as few trips as possible (good practice even during normal times);

And I will continue to reduce my containers and group them to conserve water. Last year, we had quite a drought. Fortunately, I had already begun this practice, but I still spent too much time watering containers. It’s not fun. Some of those are my house plants and it’s still easier to water those with a hose than indoors with watering cans–but still.

So let us look forward to better things in 2021. Here’s to a happy, healthy new year and a fabulous garden!

The Saga of the White Amaryllis Continues

Amaryllis White Nymph

Okay, I shouldn’t be complaining–and really, I am not. I bought a white amaryllis and it’s blooming white. So already I am so far ahead of last year when my white amaryllis was some funky red bicolor.

Further, it appears that this bulb will have 3 blooms–2 of the usual sort and then this creative thing coming out of its base. So I am way ahead of the game.

If I actually look at it artistically, it appears as if someone–not me, because I never could have come up with this idea–creatively draped this bloom in the pot. But no! It’s actually attached to the bulb, and blooming sideways out of the base. Very strange.

This is what makes gardening great. Plants just never lose the ability to surprise and delight. This is way better than I ever planned!