Catching Up ….

Spring came early this year and was a welcome relief from the winter, especially the late blizzard that buried us under two feet of snow. In March, I had surgery to remove a bone spur in my shoulder that was causing me a great deal of pain. Needless to say, the surgery resulted in — a great deal of pain. So, having plants waking up in the garden and having flowers around was a great morale booster and I’m glad they showed up earlier rather than later this year.

As always, the crocus came up first, fewer in number than in years past but very welcome. They were followed very quickly by the first of the hyacinths and the daffodils. The hyacinths have multiplied nicely over the years. Those daffodils that remain have multiplied but the variety of daffodils has decreased over the eight years that the bulbs have been in the ground. Within a few weeks of these bulbs blooming, everything seemed to wake up all at once: hosta started to emerge, the scilla and anemones bloomed, the lilac leafed out and began to form flower buds, and the forsythia erupted into their mass of yellow flowers. Around this time, the landscaper came and worked on the lawn as previously described. I also had him, under my direct supervision, prune the roses as I couldn’t do it myself due to the surgery. It’s a good thing that we did as they woke up quite early this year.

In the weeks that followed, just about everything in the garden woke up, leafed out, and bloomed with a few exceptions. On the azalea front, the purple azalea in the side yard garden is being crowded out by the dwarf blue spruce on its left and the dwarf arborvitae on the right and did not have any blooms this year. I expect that it will just not be there next year. For some reason, more than half the growth on the Delaware Valley White azalea died off. Half of it is still fine and bloomed, so I pruned off the deal half and hope for the best for the rest. Even the very old red azalea had a portion of its growth die off this winter, a very mild one compared to the past few years, but still produced a beautiful show, so I just pruned off the dead wood and hope it will grow back.

When the roses awakened from their winter slumber, just about three weeks earlier than last year, I was saddened to find that the Peace shrub that I planted last year didn’t survive even the mild winter. Mea culpa — I had left the pot next to the hole vacated by the death of the Peace standard, intending to dig a new home for it nearby and my landscaper went ahead and, unbidden, planted it in the old hole, something I never do. I was afraid it wouldn’t do well and it didn’t. The Double Delight standard, the last of my old rose standards, started to put out some growth but a light frost killed that and that appears to have been its death knell as it put out no more growth. With those two casualties, I called Jackson & Perkins (my preferred rose supplier) and ordered new standards of Peace and Double Delight as I consider those roses “special” and don’t care to be without them in the garden. As J&P was very insistent upon giving me an additional 20% off anything else, I also ordered Abraham Darby, a David Austin English rose that has gotten very good reviews. After they arrived and I conditioned them, I planted the Double Delight standard in a new hole near where the old one stood and the Peace standard in a new hole near also near where the old one stood. Abraham Darby went into a gap in the backyard rose garden, in a spot near where L.D. Braithwaite lived before it was shadowed away by Golden Showers and Pierre de Ronsard. Golden Showers having passed on and Pierre de Ronsard much reduced from what it was a few years ago by the severe winters of years past, that spot now gets enough light that I think Abraham Darby will do well.

The buds on the roses came quickly, with both Louise Odier and Zephirine Drouhin, my two old garden roses, being the first to show them as always. During the first week of May, Zephirine Drouhin opened the first of many buds to reveal a beautiful pink bloom with an intoxicating old rose scent. More blooms followed quickly. Louise Odier began opening the first of many large fat buds soon thereafter and the garden began to pick up that classic old rose fragrance. Within a week or so, it will be a riotous mass of hundreds of blooms whose fragrance will knock you off your feet at a dozen paces. Winchester Cathedral opened up a flower to become the third to bloom, and today I noticed that both Pat Austin and Red Ribbons had opened blooms to tie for fourth. All of the other roses have large buds on them and the garden should soon be awash in color and fragrance. I checked today and all three of the newly planted roses are started to break bud, so I have high hopes that they will do well.

I sprayed all of the roses today with Banner Maxx. We do get blackspot here in New Jersey and if left uncontrolled it can easily defoliate some of the more susceptible roses. My spraying program is pretty simple but has always been very effective. In week 1 I use Banner Maxx, in week 2 I use Immunox, and in week 3 I use Funginex. In week 4 I go back to Banner Maxx and the cycle repeats. Should I see any blackspot infection despite this spraying regimen, I will mix Mancozeb with whichever fungicide I’m going to spray with. Usually, two or three weeks of Mancozeb added to the other fungicides is enough to get rid of the blackspot.

The weigela is now in full bloom and, along with the continuing bloom of the deciduous azalea, is once again stopping traffic on the street. 🙂 The mock orange in the front yard is also getting ready to bloom. Once it has bloomed and past, it, the weigela, and the two forsythias will get a very hard pruning — as in, to the ground, to allow them to regenerate as it’s been quite a few years since they were renewed. I will also have the lilac hard pruned as some of the stems have become quite thick and the whole thing has gotten leggy to the point that it almost looks like a tree instead of a shrub. It has very good new growth coming up from the ground already so it will be in fine shape for next year’s bloom.

I will post some new photos later this evening on the main web site.

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