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Spring Is Here

April 3, 2021

pickwick clumpSpring has arrived early in Maine. In the first week of April, the snow is already gone from the garden, and clumps of Crocus vernus ‘Pickwick’ have been blooming in the warm micro-climate along the foundation of the house since mid-March.

Crocus shoots are also poking up through the plant debris on the side slope. Some of them have even begun to bloom. At this time of year, I find myself peering carefully at that slope each day, looking for new clumps of crocus to appear. Eventually, there will be about sixty such clumps; today, I counted a dozen.

crocus shoots

Other spring bulbs have also begun to appear. In the back garden, I can see flower buds among the hyacinth shoots; and today, I spotted the first shoots of the 150 daffodil bulbs I planted last fall on the front slope.

The Xerxes Society recommends that, in order to protect pollinators overwintering in the plant debris, we should not begin spring cleanup in the garden until the evening temperatures are reliably above 50 F. For the most part, I try to honor that recommendation, despite the fact that I am eager to get out and work in the garden. So far, I have managed to confine my gardening activities to pruning that should be done before shrubs break dormancy. This week, however, I will make an exception to the rule and begin cleaning up the areas where crocuses are planted so that I can enjoy their colorful spring display.

Anticipatory Gardening: The Woodland Border

February 7, 2021

imageA snowy day in early February seemed like the perfect time to begin thinking about this year’s major garden project (and the last piece of my new front garden), the woodland border. This is a small flower bed (8’ x 16’) that will sit at the edge of the woods on the far side of the grassy path, filling a gap between the shrubbery at the front corner of my property and the rain garden near the corner of the house.

The impetus for thinking about the woodland border was discovering that Prairie Moon Nursery in Minnesota was now accepting orders for spring. I wanted to order the last three plants for last year’s front border from them, straight species Baptisia australis plants that are difficult to find at local nurseries. Last year, I had waited too long to order, only to find them already sold out. But, if I was going to place an order with Prairie Moon, I should first figure out what other plants I needed from them.

I began by making a list of plants that would work well in the mostly shady, sandy soil conditions of the woodland border. For this, I drew primarily on lists from the Maine Wild Seed Project and on plant information from the Prairie Moon catalog. Some were plants I already had on hand in my holding area, but most needed to be purchased and were added to my Prairie Moon order.

My next step was to distribute various sized circles representing the various plants around on a drawn-to-scale diagram of the planting area. I always enjoy this part of the process, as I play with various combinations of plants. I don’t use any fancy computer-assisted design software, just the basic drawing tools available in Microsoft Word. I discovered that I had some unfilled space left over after I distributed my list of plants, so I added some Siberian irises, spiderwort, and daylilies that are in my holding area and that can tolerate partly shady conditions. Here is what I ended up with:


This is a first draft and will undoubtedly be tweaked on paper in the months to come and on the ground when it is time to actually put in the plants.

Flowers and Foliage: GBBD, January 2021

January 17, 2021

Plant window jan 2021

My plant window in January boasts boldly colorful flowers on my no-fuss potted cyclamen and lots of foliage on my potted amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs.

pink cyclamen jan 2021 streaked cyclamen jan 2021

The amaryllis are much less reliable than the cyclamen in my cool Maine house. Normally, I do see the beginnings of some flower buds on the amaryllis by mid-January – but not this year. There are two potted amaryllis bulbs in my bedroom that have not yet put up any growth at all. I am keeping an eye on these because these late growers are often the first to put up flower buds. Fingers crossed to see some buds soon. Meanwhile, I will enjoy my cyclamen plants, especially the streaked flowers.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of every month by Carol J. Michel at her May Dreams Gardens blog. Visit her site to see what other gardeners have blooming this January.

Welcoming the New Year

January 1, 2021

Lulu cover 2021I know I’m not the only person this year who is particularly happy to welcome in a new year and say good riddance to the old one. The sentiment has made my gift calendars for friends and family, featuring images of my garden, especially welcome this year.

Once again, I used to design and order my calendars. The premium calendar size that I used in recent years has been discontinued, so I switched to a less expensive 8.5” x 11” spiral bound format.

Here are the images I chose to represent the best of 2020 while warmly welcoming 2021:

January 2021 February 2021



March 2021 April 2021



May 2021 June 2021



July 2021 August 2021



September 2021 October 2021



November 2021 December 2021