Spring is definitely here although we still have an occasional evening near freezing. Looking back over my post from April 2021, plants are slower to show themselves this year. This winter has been colder than the last. I posted that one on April 18, 2021, so the dates are comparable, just one year apart. It’s interesting to look back over previous years and notice the changes in the garden.
I dug up 3 of my dahlias to divide and fertilize them (just bone meal and some steer manure) yesterday. None of them were showing any signs of growth yet, I think I will wait a few more weeks to dig the rest. They didn’t do very well last year (lack of water? Crowding? Gophers? Nutritional needs? Too much fog?). Hopefully I can remedy the problems this year.
Signs of impending spring include tulips,
and buds on the rose bushes, they are happy this year. I planted them in half barrels three years ago and they did poorly last year. Doing some detective work I found that the surrounding redwood trees had grown into the bottom of the barrels and were choking the poor things. I had to dig out the roots, put in some new soil, compost and epsom salts. They are looking much better. In future I will periodically have to lift the half barrels from the soil to break any wandering redwood roots.
The ceanothus is gorgeous! This one was planted about 3 years ago and is flourishing.
And to my delight it is doing so with no attention or very little summer water (although I will need to weed out that dandelion I notice in the corner of the picture…sorry about that). It so inspired me that I have planted an additional 3 bushes at the front of the house. They are still small and I will have to nurture them this year but hopefully not after that. The front of the house looks a bit like the prow of a boat and the ceanothus, when in bloom, should look like the ocean. I understand the original owner of the house (and builder) was a navy man.
I moved the half wine barrels of bearded iris’s to the front where there is more sun. It’s doubtful they will bloom this year (fingers crossed) as they were replanted so late. But I hope they will be happier in their current spot without any competition from redwood roots. There were quite a number of iris bulbs so I planted some of them in smaller containers and gave some away. To my surprise there are California poppies coming up in the pots as well.
There are some signs of snail and fungal damage, sigh. I have not used any pesticides in the past although I do bait for our native banana slugs.
April Bearded Iris 2022
You can see the small ceanothus bushes between the barrels. They should reach a height and size of 15′ by 15′ once fully grown.
At the first in-person meeting of the local (Noyo Chapter) Rhododendron club I won 3 new ones, a Rhododendron Pontiyak (5’x3′ light lavender color), Checkmate (2’x2.5′ lavender pink), and Emasculum (5′ pink).
The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (of which I am a board member) has a number of wonderfully scented ones in their collection and I picked up a bush of Coastal Spice (white and pink) in the plant nursery when I was there last. If you get a chance to visit the Northern California coast, don’t miss the Gardens.
Rhododendron Coastal Spice
All of the new Rhododendrons have been planted in an island bed near our pump house and garden shed.
There are several new ones in this bed and I keep it irrigated. The older established ones on the property are watered infrequently due to drought conditions.
You will notice the bird house in the center of the bed. We’ve placed four of them around the property but none have any resident families yet. There must not be a housing shortage for the birds here.
bird houses in the pollinator garden – rent free but no takers yet
Vegetables are a dilemma this year. Should I plant them or not? I worry about the water they will need. I brought up the subject with the gardener in the vegetable garden at the Botanical Gardens last week. He feels that home gardeners use a lot less water than the huge commercial farms. So, comforted, I planted two of our raised beds. Here you will see lettuce, chard, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. I was excited to find a mixed starter pack of the cruciferous vegetables. The two of us cannot usually eat 6 heads of cauliflower before they start to go to seed and I don’t really have the storage space. Two heads are more manageable.
I also direct seeded some radishes, arugula and a mesclun mix.
I am going to skip the tomatoes and cucumbers this year. We get good local ones from the farm down the road. Zucchini will definitely go into at least one, maybe two, beds. We adore them freshly picked and simply grilled.
Lastly, and new, are three small fig trees on the front deck. They were started a couple of years ago by a garden friend from scions. It turns out that her husband doesn’t really like figs so she gifted them to me. It’s easier to keep an eye on them on the deck and it’s a sunny place. I had a couple of trees in containers on my deck in Oakland but the squirrels usually got to them before they were ripe. The squirrels are more cautious here and the dogs very diligent.
My constant garden companions watch me as I putter about in the garden, it’s their happy place as well as mine.
Shanna and Quinn
Casey is happiest snoozing at my feet as I write this.
I hope you are in your happy place as well.