As we launch into summer here, there’s only one plant I can think of so far this year that reached its peak on schedule: the Peonies. There are probably others, but the vast majority of plants in my garden have emerged, matured, bloomed, and faded weeks ahead of their normal schedules.
To celebrate the reliable end-of-May blooms of my Peonies, I’m featuring them in this “Lessons Learned” post. I have three hybrid Peony bushes in my garden: ‘Edulis Superba,’ ‘Sarah Bernhardt,’ and ‘Kelway’s Gorgeous.’ Even they were abnormal in one way—fewer blooms, because the Oak trees leafed out several weeks early, cutting off the supply of sunshine.
The biggest lesson I learned this season was a fascination with abnormality. We had a solid two weeks or more of summer-like temperatures in March, which set springtime in motion with a vengeance. Now I know what it’s like to experience a three-month-long spring season. Usually, March is quite wintry here, April is variable, and May is almost always mild and spectacular.
So, on with other lessons learned this season:
1. Do your homework before you select a new plant. In my last post, I shared how I learned late that rabbits really like the taste of Hyacinth Bean plants. I don’t know what I was thinking! Of course legumes must be protected from the jaws of the evil big-eared creatures (I say this in jest—I never kill rabbits, I just get mad at them and try to repel them with appropriate plant selections as much as possible.)
2. Plant more Daffodils, and no more Tulips. Rabbits eat Tulips down to the base, but they don’t touch Daffodils. All the Daffodils I planted in the fall emerged and bloomed in March—and their bright yellow faces lasted into April! On the other hand, I gave up on Tulips several years ago. Maybe I’ll try again if I ever get a dog to chase away the rabbits.
3. When plants are beautiful, appreciate them in their full glory. It’s appropriate to shake your head and say, “That’s not normal,” when Magnolias and Dicentras bloom in March. But then pause to appreciate their splendor. Even when a plant is off its “normal” schedule, take time to enjoy it. Spring ephemerals, especially, fade fast on warm days.
4. Determined chipmunks are
almost as pesky as hungry
rabbits. I tried every trick under the sun to keep chipmunks out of my potted
annuals on the front porch this spring. Cayenne Pepper, cat litter, baby
powder, chili powder, spiky evergreen clippings, lava rocks, and onion
sets—none of them, alone, did the trick. In the end, a combination of these
methods has finally started to keep the chipmunks at bay.
5. Honey Locust leaves might be good mulch for a kitchen garden. The jury’s still out on this one. I raked up the Honey Locust leaves last fall, and top-dressed my veggie/cut flower garden for the winter. One benefit was a sure thing: There were fewer weeds. But the Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Zinnias, Cosmos, and Snapdragons I planted two weeks ago aren’t growing very fast. I’ve been watering them thoroughly, and they’ve had plenty of warmth and sun. I think I’ll supplement with some of my customary mulch—Marsh Hay.
6. Photograph more foliage. I’ve always appreciated unique and varied foliage in the garden, but I don’t spend enough time capturing it. My lens tends to gravitate toward showy blooms. One goal for the summer is to dedicate more time and memory card space to foliage.
Those are the biggest lessons I learned during this unusually early and warm spring. Part of me hopes for a more normal spring next year, and part of me secretly wishes every spring would be this glorious.
Now it’s almost “summer” here—time to enjoy long days, lemonade, water sports, and fireworks. What lessons did you learn this spring (or fall for friends in the Southern Hemisphere)? And what seasonal celebrations are you looking forward to in the weeks ahead?
Please join in the “Lessons Learned” meme by including a link to your post in the comments. Or, you can click on the “Lessons Learned” tab at the top of this page. The Mr. Linky widget will be live until the solstice—when I’ll do a wrap-up post about all our lessons. And join Donna at Garden's Eye View for “Seasonal Celebrations.” You can combine the two in one post, or link to them separately.
Thanks, in advance, for sharing in these memes! The wrap-ups at the end provide a fascinating glimpse into garden lessons and celebrations around the globe.
Note: Here's the code to add the Lessons Learned widget to your blog:
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