Hello Friends! Mid Spring is upon us. I love this time in my garden. It is one of the only times in the year when you can be outside without mosquitoes! They are around but they are not too hungry yet. I also love all the plants blooming right now. My Oriental poppies are beginning to bloom now, at the same time as the allium and columbine. I have located all of my milkweed too, I have 18 swamp milkweed plants and the common mw has spread in places I would never had expected. In one case it is about 20 feet from the original plant. This is the reason why I discourage common mw in the home garden. Out around your neighborhoods in ditches or vacant lots, that's ok. My theory is, the more mw around to attract the monarchs to your area, the better chance you have of them finding your garden. So my plan last year was to take a few seed pods of the common mw and make seed bombs for those spots around my neighborhood that can grow mw. Alas, not all of my time is my own and I did not get it done. I will try again this summer. If you want to make seed bombs and learn a little about guerrilla gardening, follow this link. http://www.guerrillagardening.org/ggseedbombs.html
I have noticed that this year in my garden plants just seem bigger. I suppose having a unnatural amount of rain makes plants more lush but I could do with a few more bright days. Other than preparing for the monarchs I have started cutting new edges in the garden and I finally started on replanting the front border of the house. I got a hold of 6 'Vanilla Strawberry' Hydrangeas and I bought some Hakonechloa macra aureola grass to round out the update of the front border. I don't just mean that I bought these grasses, it was fate. I rarely buy plants from the big box stores, I have worked in independent garden centers and I know how tough it is for them to be successful so I am pretty loyal. But yesterday HD was calling me. I NEEDED those grasses and I hadn't seen any in my regular haunts. As I drove up in the parking lot, a man was wheeling one entire rack of Hakonachloa macra aureola off a truck. It was fate.
I can't wait to see these new hydrangeas bloom too. Last year I was so excited about the new trend in pink smooth hydrangea (H. aborescens) that I tore out my beloved white 'Annabelle' hydrangeas that have faithfully bloomed big for me for six years. I thought the pink blooms against my yellow house would look charming. So I got on the pink ribbon bandwagon and bought six 'Invincebelle Spirit' hydrangeas. Well maybe I was just impatiens (get it??) but they just sat there and did nothing all last summer. Oh I know what you are saying to yourself, "Dolly shame on you! You know you never see the true potential of a plant until year three!" Actually, I felt like the lady in the Best Buy comerrcial that says "What the...." when she sees the new cell phone she bought is obsolete! hahahaha! I was lucky enough to be at a lecture last summer at the Bonk/ Bailey Nursery facility in Onarga, Il. I met the man who was directly responsible for bringing the 'Vanilla Strawberry' hydrangea to the US from France. He even tested that hydrangea in Minnesota for 5 or 6 years! Once I saw it I was in love and I lusted after that hydrangea all winter. When I got them, I have my ways- oh yes, I have ways of getting plants before official release, I came home one terrible cold Friday night and ripped out the old 'Invinceabelle' hydrangeas. I was in a foul mood because of lack of sunshine, I think so it did not take long. Now I await my beloved 'Vanilla Strawberry' blooms. I hope, not in vain. They are all in bud so I will update you later.
I have not seen any monarchs in my neighborhood yet, This has happened in years past also. Last year I didn't see any until the last week of June and I started finding eggs right away. So I am not worried. I almost have everything ready for the caterpillars.
Good Bye for Now! Happy Plantings! Dolly