Busy, busy, busy March. So much busier than it should have been. The matted lawn in back can attest to that. I’ve had to go around jabbing the heavily trafficked passages with the broad fork and scraping at it with the thatch rake. But it has been so warm, I couldn’t help but get out there and tromp around. We’re still mired in dryness by La Niña, a weather pattern caused by temperature fluctuation in Pacific waters that result in abnormally dry winters, and, in this year’s case, early springs. It is incredibly ironic that this year should be so dry when last year was one of our wettest on record.
The Subalpine fir I put in the fall is a casualty to the dry winter. Technically it is still alive but the bottom half is dead and the top half is so desiccated it looks like it should be. My arborist wants to give it a chance, but that’s his job, not mine. I don’t have the patience to nurse it back to health for the next ten years. That makes two dead firs in two years. Lesson learned. Do not transplant Subalpine firs in the autumn; wait until spring, and water, water, water.
Good news is the Pulsatilla praetensis ssp. nigricans transplants pulled through. Scanning Jelitto’s seed stock for Pulsatilla taught me that when sowing this variety, it likes a couple of weeks of warm temps at 70F before its cold period, so I’m hoping now that I’m armed with this extra knowledge and emboldened by success, we’ll have more on the property.
In the meantime, we’ve been quickly adding to the back’s plantings. I’m especially chuffed to finally have a Rosa nutkana, our showiest native rose, which will pump out 3” pink single blossoms in part shade. I know this because I’ve seen it do in situ in the mountains 6 miles from here. I’m also excited by Hydrangea ‘Brookside Littleleaf’, a climbing Hydrangea that grows to only 15 feet—much more manageable that the usual 30—and with smaller leaves. It sounds perfect for a suburban fence.
For the front and side yards, I also found I also found a way to recapture childhood memories of warm June apricots while avoiding those memories of early July that involved donning sandwich baggies to pull slimy fallen fruit from the lawn. The solution lies in ‘Garden Annie’, a dwarf Apricot. It grows only to 10 feet, so fruit is easier to reach, and, it will fit in the dry, south border, meaning all that fallen fruit can rot happily there. Win-win.
Studying pictures of Dan Hinkley’s garden at Windcliff has left me wanting a big Agapanthus in ground, which is hard doing here in winters that can dip down to 0F or below. I have some hardy whites, but I really long for a good blue. I found ‘Summer Skies’ which was developed from the Headbourne hybrids. We have claims of two foot tall leaf clumps and 3-foot-tall flowering stalks. We’ll see. It’s not in A. praecox territory, and the blue is a bit wan, but it’s a start.