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Two Gardens, Two Seasons: GBBD, March 2011

March 15, 2011
Snow covered back garden in March (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) For the past several days, I have been home in Maine during my college’s spring break. In traveling north, I also made a seasonal transition, from early spring in my zone 6b Gettysburg garden, to late winter in my zone 5a Maine garden.
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In Maine, the garden is still covered in more than a foot of slushy snow, and a small mountain of snow blocks access to the garden from the driveway. Large snow bank at end of driveway (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
There are some signs of new spring life, however. The rhododendron on the back slope peeks out from under its covering of snow and ice, and the rhododendron in the deck border sports fat buds as well as icicles.
Rhododendron peeking out from beneath snow and ice (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Buds and icicles on rhododendron (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Forsythia in bud (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) At the front of the house, a forsythia is covered with buds. (If I were going to be here longer, I would trudge through the snow to cut some of these for forcing indoors!)
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Although it will be several weeks before the snow completely melts and flowers bloom in Maine, spring is waiting for me back in my Gettysburg garden. There, the snow is gone; new growth and buds are appearing on many plants; and in the back yard, the forsythia has begun to bloom.

New spring growth (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Forsythia in bloom (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
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Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what’s in bloom this month in gardens around the world.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2011 1:15 am

    It’s striking to see the difference latitude makes, and it looks like you’re getting fairly expert at the effects! Glad to see that you were able to celebrate Bloomday with the thought of seeing some real-live outdoor flowers once you head back south.

    • March 16, 2011 10:33 pm

      James, We don’t get much of a winter in southern Pennsylvania (although you might have thought otherwise during your visit to Philadelphia!), so my March trip to Maine gives me a chance to say farewell to a season I love. And, then, I get to head back to spring! I’ll get back to Maine in a month when it will truly be spring here.

  2. March 16, 2011 7:13 am

    It must be fun to see the changes from Maine (where I assume you are on vacation) and your milder climate. The warmer temps will melt that snow away soon.

    • March 16, 2011 10:34 pm

      It is fun, Carol. When I’m in Maine fulltime, I get pretty sick of winter in late March and often plan a getaway to visit spring. And I really am on vacation. For once, I haven’t come away on a school break with a 40-hour week’s worth of papers to grade! 🙂

  3. March 16, 2011 8:02 am

    What a contrast. The thought of buds and icicles on the same plant seems oddly appropriate, defiantly hopeful in the face of adversity! If you had to choose to live with just one of your two contrasting gardens, which would it be?

    • March 16, 2011 10:36 pm

      That’s an easy choice for me, Janet. Maine is really where my heart is, although I enjoy the spring in Pennsylvania. I’m looking forward to giving up my Pennsylvania townhouse and garden and settling into life in Maine full time in three years when I retire from teaching.

  4. March 16, 2011 9:05 am

    Hi Jean,

    It is amazing the differences between the zones. I am the same zone you are but for now our snow is gone and we are going to be in the 60’s tomorrow. Everything is still dormant but I am going to take a walk around today to see if anything is poking through.

    Eileen

    • March 16, 2011 10:44 pm

      Hi Eileen, The USDA zones really cover pretty broad swaths. I’m really on the border of zones 4b and 5a. When I first started gardening, I tried to stick to plants rated hardy at least to zone 4. But, over the years, I’ve learned that many plants rated for zone 5 (e.g., many varieties of hardy geraniums) thrive in my garden. Sometimes when I’m here in March, the snow melts away from the foundation of the house enough before I leave that I can start to see some plants poking up there — but I don’t think that’s going to happen this year. We were promised rain for today; but instead it mostly snowed, with just enough rain at the end to give us an inch of fresh slush!

  5. March 16, 2011 11:26 am

    What a major difference between the two gardens! Hope your driveway was ploughed for you on your return to Maine. Although we are melting quickly here it’ll still be some time before we see any blooms.

    • March 16, 2011 10:47 pm

      Marguerite, I do keep the driveway plowed all winter (that’s what created the small snow mountain at the end of the driveway), so that when I get here, I just have to dig a path from the driveway to the basement door to get in (a bigger job some years than others). Then I can shovel the back slope stairs and the paths to the main entrances to the house at my leisure over several days. This year, because the snow pack was so saturated and icy, that turned out to be a serious strength training workout.

  6. Lula (onbotanicalphotography.blogspot.com) permalink
    March 16, 2011 1:54 pm

    Wishing spring already, the images in your garden make me realized how high in latitud your garden is! But they show a beautiful landscape, the forsythias are lovely. Lula

    • March 16, 2011 10:51 pm

      Hi Lula, Actually, my latitude is considerably south of yours. (I know; hard to believe — I’m at the same latitude as the French riviera!) The difference is that Europe is warmed by the north flowing gulf current, while the climate here is cooled by the south-flowing Labrador current.

  7. March 16, 2011 6:40 pm

    Well at least your perennials are well insulated, right? I can’t believe how much snow we still have on the ground. Last year at this time I was digging in the dirt, weeding the garden, and adding compost to my raised beds.

    • March 16, 2011 10:53 pm

      The early spring last year was fun, but I think this is more normal. I just checked my posts from last year, and I did serious spring clean-up in my garden the second week in April. (And 5 days after that, we had a couple inches of spring snow.)

  8. March 16, 2011 8:41 pm

    It is very fun to see what’s going on in your Maine garden. I have to say I would rather be here in 6b. I have been meaning to tell you that the redbud branches that I brought in and put in a vase for forcing bloomed beautifully.

    • March 16, 2011 11:00 pm

      Carolyn, I’ll be happy to head back to zone 6b. (Although when the temperatures and humidity start to climb there in late May, I’ll also be happy to head back to Maine.) How nice to know that redbud branches can be forced successfully; I bet they were a feast for the eyes!

  9. March 16, 2011 11:50 pm

    My husband threatens at times that he wants to get a little weekend house somewhere but just imagining having two gardens makes me dizzy — still, the possibilities…

  10. patientgardener permalink
    March 17, 2011 2:40 pm

    Goodness I am impressed that you cope with two gardens – it must take some planning

  11. March 17, 2011 11:41 pm

    I just had to laugh at patientgardener’s comment… this is Jean we’re talking about here!! Of spreadsheet and plantmap fame 🙂

  12. March 18, 2011 5:53 am

    Hello Jean, thanks for sharing your contrasting gardens – I have trouble imagining the impact of the different climatic zones in the US, and this was a lovely way to illustrate the difference between the ones you are gardening in!

  13. March 18, 2011 3:53 pm

    Seems kinda neat to have gardens in such different seasons right now. You can enjoy the coming of spring two times.

  14. March 18, 2011 3:53 pm

    I’m amazed at how much snow you still have there piled up. It was nice to see the comparision between the 2 gardens. You certainly can extend the seasons Jean.

  15. March 18, 2011 10:42 pm

    TM, It was the possibilities of extending the garden season that enticed me. I think the two-garden lifestyle works best when the secondary garden gets most of its attention at a time when the primary garden is mostly dormant.

    Helen, You have to remember that my garden season in Maine is much shorter than yours — 6 months at most. The second garden in Gettysburg is really very small, and it allows me to get a garden fix during times of the year (like now!) when my Maine garden is under snow. That being said, I do have a reputation (as Jess notes) for being a somewhat obsessive planner.

    LOL, Jess, I think you have my number.

    Heidi, The US really does encompass an amazing variety of climates, and the hardiness zones (which are just based on average minimum temp) range from zone 1 in the mountains of Alaska to zone 11 in Hawaii. So in the overall scheme of things, the differences represented by my two gardens are minuscule; I grow many of the same plants in both places.

    Catherine, Being able to enjoy spring twice is one of the advantages. Although spring in Maine can be a big tease — you wait for it and wait for it, and then it happens so fast you can miss it if you blink (or go away for a few days!).

    Rosie, the amount of snow I have in Maine is pretty typical — but this is definitely the time of year when (except for the most avid skiers and snowboarders) people tend to be sick of snow and ready for it to melt, which it is doing.

  16. March 19, 2011 10:04 am

    You get to watch spring open in two gardens and two zones. How wonderful.

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