Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, April 2014

I so rarely post for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, mainly because of timing. The 15th of every month usually catches me by surprise, and I don't have time to collect bloom photos and put together a post. This year I want to be more bloom conscious though, so I'm making an extra effort to make GBBD posts happen.

Luckily there are actually some blooms to show this month. Everything is a few weeks behind where it has been the past few springs, but there is enough going on to be interesting I think. I tried to be as thorough as possible, but I may have missed one or two things.



Although it was 80ºF (27ºC) this weekend it's currently below freezing -- the water barrel out the front window confirms that. Still, it seems spring is finally here in St. Louis.

My first spring with peonies, so let's start with those!


Last look at seed pods

I really hate early spring cleanup, when I remove all of last year's growth, the remnants of what was a greener, warmer, happier time. It's true that I enjoy the often architectural stems and pods that remain sturdily standing after months of cold snows and winds, but the main reason I hate cutting them is that I'll have nothing to look at for several weeks. The new growth is so slow to emerge most years, cautiously peeking, wondering when it will be safely warm again.

The rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos) is probably the poster child of this -- I so hate removing its wonderful pods each spring! Let's take one last look at them before they go...




Grasses surprise

More grasses to cut, this time in front of the house, closest to the porch. Mexican feather grass so lovely even when quite possibly completely dead -- they don't reliably overwinter for me even in normal winters.

These supposedly do better when not sheared, so I pull out any loose blades and leave the rest long. Since I like the look of even the brown blades of this grass, I don't mind this. It will be a bit of a surprise if these actually green back up though, but they're usually slow to get going so maybe there's still a chance.


Springtime nemeses

I was originally going to write about my main springtime garden nemesis (violets), but as I started photographing I realized that there are more than one, and violets are probably not even at the top of the list.

So let's take a look at three of the worst, starting with what I just call "wild strawberries".


One loss

As you may know, I overwinter many plants indoors, always looking for ways to minimize the effort and care they require.

Unfortunately, I sometimes push these limits too far, and low-care crosses the line to neglect, and a plant pays the price. Take for instance my organ-pipe cactus.


Grasses, so easy

Grasses are one of my favorite plants to overwinter, as they're so simple and rewarding. They need minimal care, are tolerant of periods of neglect, and well, they're grasses -- so essential in any garden! This winter I made the typical Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' (purple fountain grass) divisions to grow indoors, but also a couple of experimental "Vertigo" Pennisetum.

Besides burning where the leaf tips touched the lights, every single one of these divisions has made it through the cold, dark tunnel that is winter and come out the other side into the light that is spring.


Question: What's better than compost?

Answer: Compost made from food waste! Sure, as gardeners we routinely save kitchen scraps and add them to our compost piles (you are doing this, right?) and if we're a little bit more motivated might even find a local business or two that can collect buckets of scraps for us.

If you've been reading INWIG for a while, you may remember that my wife is a baker and would often bring home heaps of banana peels and other nutrient-rich organics that were destined for the dumpster. How can this procedure be expanded though, as most bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores don't have employees willing to cart buckets of scraps home?


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