The following are ramblings from my garden. I would love to here the ramblings from other people's gardens. It's spring where I am, and I absolutely love spring! The last full moon (the one in...
The following are ramblings from my garden. I would love to here the ramblings from other people's gardens.
It's spring where I am, and I absolutely love spring! The last full moon (the one in February) I call the Angry Goose Moon, because it's around that time that my male goose turns into a monster, and I need to pull out my shield (a garbage bin lid) to move around the yard while warding off his attacks. His change in demeanor signifies the onset of spring for me.
Some people divide spring into early spring and late spring, but I live in a cool, wet environment that has a very long spring which is why I prefer thinking about the garden in terms of the moon cycle. The beginning of spring is Angry Goose Moon. During this phase, the hummingbirds start visiting, waiting for our native red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) to bloom. Everyday it gets closer and closer (I expect it to be in full bloom any day now). My hated Burkwood Osmanthus (Osmanthus × burkwoodii) begins rapidly trying to turn into a tree, and I'm reminded that I still haven't figured out what to plant in its place as I trim it back down a manageable level. And OMG the freaking cranesbill geranium (Geranium sanguineum) has once again gotten into everything, but I loathe to get rid of it all because the bees love it so much. This year I am being way more ruthless than years pass and have filled several bins of it for the yard waste collectors.
Usually this is also when I start seeds, but I'll be leaving for six weeks, so the seed catalogues will be collecting dust this year. Instead I'm checking out my propagation efforts from last year. I need to move a beautiful hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) that gets way to big for the area it's in, but I've been afraid to move it case it dies, so last year I took 30 cuttings, which all rooted. It looks like 29 of those made it through the winter. I have no need for 29 more hydrangeas, but I now know I can move the mother plant, and if it dies, I'll have something to replace it with. In the mean time I'll plant the new ones in bigger pots to give away next year when they are more established.
Last fall I divided up some of the lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) I planted last year, plopped them into 10 pots, and brought them indoors to winter over. It looks like five of them made it. It won't be late enough for me to get them in the ground before I leave, but I will put them into bigger pots and get them under artificial light. Hopefully they will still be alive when I get back.
I'm not much of a rose fan, but outside my back window is a shrub rose (Rosa glauca) that has beautiful red tinged foliage and purple stems. It only flowers for a short time, and the flowers aren't anything to write home about, but they are followed by nice plump rose hips that I harvest for tea. It is absolutely in the wrong spot with its large growth and overly thorny stems. Last year I took a lot of cuttings of it and some natives roses that inhabit the same area, and it looks like most of them made it. Once they are large enough (another year or two) I'll plant them in a spot where their flesh ripping thorns won't be bothersome, remove all the large specimens, and replant the area with berries (I'm thinking about a mix of blueberry and honeyberry (Lonicera caerulea). Another potting up project before I go.
I enjoy plant medicine and started quite a few medicinal plants from seed last year. I started a bit late so nothing got in the ground, but it looks like most of them were able to winter over in the potting shed, but not all of them. I sowed 30 seeds of skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) of which only 6 germinated. I was going to move those six into the house to winter over, but I ended up with a spider mite problem in the house from having earlier brought in my toothache plants (Acmella oleraceae) and didn't want them to get infected. Unfortunately none of the skullcap survived. The toothache plants in the house didn't survive either, and I wish I had extracted their medicinal properties before their death, they were certainly large enough. But this paragraph started like it was going to be about wins. The biggest win, the one I'm most excited about, is that all of my
mountain meadow arnica (Arnica chamissonis) made it! Their first leaves of spring are pushing through the soil, and their roots are pushing out of the holes of their pots. I don't believe there is a better plant for muscular aches and pains than arnica, and I am looking forward to harvesting it to make salves. I did seed way too many than my garden can hold, so as soon as I determine whether or not they they also are infested with spider mites, I will offer them up for other people to add to their gardens. I'm also excited that all the elecampane (Inula helenium) made it through the winter, though once again I seeded way too many. The added bonus is this plant can tend to be weedy in my locale, so I will only plant a couple down in the weedy medicinal area to let them compete with each other.
Side talk about garden pests. Besides slugs, which if I allow the ducks to move through the garden, don't damage too much of my garden, my gardens are fairly pest resistant. I spent a lot of time last year moving through it with a magnifier taking pictures and videos of the smaller insects that live among the plants. It's a whole other world living just out of reach of my normal vision! Of particular interest to me were a few of my phlox plants (Phlox paniculata) that had deformed leaves. On closer inspection I saw what I assume is spider mites. A few weeks later, taking video again, I saw what I assume are predatory spider mites, and a few weeks after that the phlox started growing correctly. There are so many predators out there doing "gods" work, and if any of you gardeners are ever bored, I suggest rabbit holing into garden predators.
I'm rambling, where was I?
I also use this time to severely prune stuff back that missed my list the year prior. In my culinary herb garden there is a bay tree (whether it's Laurus nobilis or Umbellularia californica I do not know). It's a monster that should not be planted where it is. I know I could hack it it back almost to the ground and it would come back, except that its branches cover my bathroom window in a way that gives me privacy from the cabin on the other side of the creek, while letting light in. It's this constant battle between keeping it small enough that wildlife can't use to get to the roof, yet large enough to afford me bathroom privacy. I just hacked a bunch of it off and I suspect I'll be doing the same again in the fall.
This place has a lot of problems, and I have to remain vigilant in celebrating the successes and not getting lost in lists of things to do. But there's a lot of beauty in our property, and I do enjoy experiencing it. Angry Goose Moon is the time of year when I am filled with the most hope for the future.