Fabulous Friday: The Urgency of Spring

Narcissus ‘Cragford’

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It’s warm enough again to spend a little time in the garden again.  It didn’t freeze last night, for the first night in several, and I spent a happy hour planting a few more perennials, cleaning up around the Siberian Iris, and generally tidying up in the front garden yesterday afternoon.

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Narcissus ‘Thalia’

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We feel very content as we watch the garden spring back to life.  Fiddleheads and perennials push through the soil, announcing their presence once again.  Like out of state relatives you rarely see, unless they want to vacation in your area; these beautiful bits of plant life fill our hearts with happiness at their arrival.

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A seedling Columbine, grows in the driveway.

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Of course, the spring clean up presses now with even more urgency as we try to pluck the early weeds and drying leaves out of the way.   Branches, fallen in the wind; almost forgotten perennial stems left in autumn; and a few winter casualties must all be cleared away.

And this is the time to do it, while it is comfortably cool and relatively bug free!

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Helleborus

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There is another job needing attention now which might surprise you:  deadheading.  While your garden may be still covered with snow, ours has been re-energized long enough now that the earliest daffies have faded.  And so my last several tours around the garden have included both deadheading faded blossoms, and plucking those still vibrant flowers knocked over by the wind.

There is something immensely sad about these elegant flowers lying face down on the ground, and so I rescue them to a vase.  My vase, a friend’s vase; either is good.

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Now, there is a running debate over whether to deadhead daffodils.  And so I turned to the experts, Brent and Becky Heath, of Gloucester daffodil fame, for an informed opinion.  I’ve been reading their book, Daffodils for North American Gardens, this week.

As with so many gardening questions, the answer is complicated.  First, they advise that most hybrid daffodils can’t set seed.  Therefore, there is no reason to leave the spent blossoms and they advise removing them for neatness sake.  Emerging daffies just look more beautiful if those spent ones near them aren’t crumpled and brown.

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Some of the older varieties, and certainly the species daffodils which can set seed, will pour energy into those seeds at the expense of storing energy in their bulb for next year’s blossoms.  So one must consider whether it is more important to produce seeds at the expense of bloom size or quantity next spring, or whether one can skip the chance of the daffies reseeding in the interest of neatness and next year’s crop.

With that guidance in mind, I’ve been more attentive to deadheading the spent daffies this spring than ever before.  It’s easy enough to snip them off with scissors, but I’m usually equipped with little more than a thumbnail when I notice them….

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A further bit of advice from the Heaths is to snip the fading flower, but leave the stems.  The stems will stay green, like the leaves, for many weeks to come;  making food each day and building up the bulbs for the coming season.

After the blossoms die back, each bulb calves new bulbs from its basal plate.  So the single bulb you planted last fall may have morphed into a small cluster of bulbs by early summer.

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That is why patches of daffodils grow and spread over the years.  After four or five years, you might decide to dig your clump, then divide and replant the bulbs to spread them around a bit.

Do this after the flowers fade, and as the leaves are browning in early summer.

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Even the very small bulbs, known as ‘chips,’ will grow leaves next year.  It may take a year or two of growth before they flower, but a single bulb may grow into thousands when given good care and enough time.

That is pretty fabulous, when you think about it!

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I’ve  set an intention to find some wonderful, beautiful, and happiness inducing thing to write about each Friday. 

Now that the Weekly Photo Challenge has moved to Wednesdays, I am starting  “Fabulous Friday” on Forest Garden. 

If you’re moved to find something Fabulous to share on Fridays as well, please tag your post “Fabulous Friday” and link your post back to mine. 

Happiness is contagious!  Let’s infect one another!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Narcissus, ‘Katie Heath’

 

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Sunday Dinner: Resilient

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“Morning will come, it has no choice.”

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Marty Rubin

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“The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour  are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.”

.

Arnold Bennett

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“But there’s a beginning in an end, you know?

It’s true that you can’t reclaim what you had,

but you can lock it up behind you.

Start fresh.”

.

Alexandra Bracken

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“Perhaps that is where our choice lies –

– in determining how we will meet

the inevitable end of things,

and how we will greet each new beginning.”

.
  Elana K. Arnold

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“We grow up with such an idealistic view

on how our life should be; love, friendships,

a career or even the place we will live ~

only to age and realize none of it is what you expected

and reality is a little disheartening,

when you’ve reached that realization;

you have learnt the gift of all,

any new beginning can start now

and if you want anything bad enough

you’ll find the courage to pursue it with all you have.

The past doesn’t have to be the future,

stop making it so.”

.

Nikki Rowe

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“New Year – a new chapter, new verse,

or just the same old story ?

Ultimately we write it.

The choice is ours.”

.
Alex Morritt

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“The more you know yourself,

the less judgemental you become”

.

Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Resilient

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Happy New Year!

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016-2017

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The Robins’ Promise

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I stepped outside late this afternoon to check the mail, and found the front garden aflutter with a flock of robins;

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happily hopping around in search of food, their happy society was startled by my unexpected presence.

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They thought they had the garden to themselves on this uncomfortably cold day.  Thank goodness for day long golden sunshine.  This last day of February has been our coldest day for several weeks.  Bundled in hat and coat, I still shivered while walking briskly up the drive to collect the mail.  And the robins scattered, looking for cover as I passed.

Edgeworthia blossoms have begun to open.

Edgeworthia blossoms have begun to open.

Bright sun has been pouring in through the windows all day; the sky clear and deeply blue.  A lovely day, but seeing the wind, and knowing the temperature, had kept me indoors.  But out I went to the mailbox, enjoying the happy robins, and looking for any little change to show the progress of spring.

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The bulbs are still shivering, petals closed tightly against the cold.  It is as if the whole world is still waiting for warmth before daring to progress any further into the season.

Mahonia

Mahonia

But I wanted to show you these happy robins, their very presence evidence that the season is turning, despite the frigid air.

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So the mail came in, and I headed back out, camera in hand, to take portraits of the robins.  Crafty little ones, they are so fast!  Several flew off just before I clicked the photo.  The ones on the ground were a little more patient, perhaps distracted by listening for worms below their feet.

Where the robin was.... only a second before....

Where the robin was…. only a second before….

I wandered the garden in search of them, and in search of an opening daffodil, or some new sign of spring’s unfolding.  My fingers went from cold to numb, and the chill wind became more persistent in seeking its way in past my jacket.

A Columbine beginning to emerge from the frozen Earth.

A Columbine beginning to emerge from the frozen Earth.

But looking to the trees, glowing in the afternoon sunlight, I saw the sign I sought. 

Look closely at the tips of the branches… the reddening tips.

Buds on our trees are swelling, finally; and preparing to open with their early flowers and leaves.  That misty red glow around the trees’ crown is as much a promise of spring as the flock of robins gathering in the garden this afternoon.

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The robins seem impervious to the cold.  This stoicism in the face of wind, rain, sleet, snow and ice commands my respect for these fragile beings. 

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They carry on, chattering to one another, from early until late.  They know, even when I doubt, that spring will follow, and provide perfectly for their every need.

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Their chirping and hopping, shy flights from shrub to shrub, and determined hunting for food warms my heart; even as my fingers stiffen in the cold afternoon wind.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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