We opened the pond and made a good start at the spring cleanup in the cottage garden. The pond opening, one of our biggest spring tasks, was sizeable this year because I repotted most of the water plants. Although you can't see all of them in the picture (many being under the water's surface) I have a dozen or more plants in there. We began the pond-opening procedure by emptying out some of the water, pulling the crates of plants up from the bottom where they spent the winter, checking pumps and filters, skimming sludge from the bottom, then adding clean water and switching on the spitter and falls. I gave the newly potted plants some food before placing them on ledges at the appropriate depth. I added salt and bacteria to the pond but the water is rather muddy-looking still; I hope it clears soon. I'm adding bacteria weekly to jump start the process. A visiting American robin, however, didn't mind the dirty water. Soon after H.H. switched on the waterfall and came indoors, the bird arrived to check it out ...
|An American robin flies down to a rock near the waterfall.|
|He looks around to be sure it's safe.|
|Nimbly, he climbs down to the water's edge.|
|He launches himself into the water.|
|He paddles and splashes about for several minutes ...|
|... before returning to his rock to dry off.|
The pond requires quite a lot of maintenance, but the visiting wildlife, including birds, dragonflies and frogs, make it worthwhile. The frogs and toads, in good voice now, produced lots of eggs already and soon we'll have tadpoles. We didn't lose any koi fish this winter and can see some very pretty new ones, including a beautiful red one that I hope to photograph soon.
As well as opening the pond, I've checked off quite a few tasks on my spring to-do list:
- cut back ornamental grasses and the perennials left standing over the winter
- weeded, weeded, weeded
- removed dead wood and suckers from trees and shrubs
- divided perennials
- planted some new perennials including two dicentra and a David Austin rose -- all of which I received free from vendors at GWA in Pasadena last year (I'm trialing these and will report on their progress)
- prepared the kitchen garden for planting
- started annual and vegetable seeds indoors for planting after the last frost
- weeded (did I mention that?)
|Creeping phlox Phlox subulata|
|Primroses and violets|
|Primrose, Primula vulgaris. Yellow primroses remind me of my childhood in England|
|Found this little beauty in the Hydrangea Garden|
|My favorite violet, Viola Sororia 'Freckles'|
|A volunteer in the horseshoe garden ...|
|... so sweet.|
Actually, I always begin the spring cleanup in the shade garden because this is my view from my favorite chair in the garden room, so need to make it tidy ASAP. I find a shade garden less work than a full-sun garden, so I finished the cleanup there in a day.
|The shade garden is greening up. Hosta shoots make an appearance around the birdbath.|
|Lamium maculatum 'Shell Pink.' Lamium loves the shade.|
|The common name is Dead Nettle. I prefer Lamium.|
|Leaves swell on the climbing hydrangeas, Hydrangea anomala, along the fence.|
|Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' with its first 'forget-me-not' type blooms|
One task I didn't list above is to clean out the miniature gardens. When grandson, Jonathon, comes he will add more stone to the path and more glass marbles to the creek.
|Pink lamium blooms and miniature hostas make an appearance.|
|More common blue violets -- in the shade garden -- Viola sororia.|
The biggest spring task in the Woodland Walk is to continue the work of removing invasive multiflora rose. H.H. fights this endless battle every year.
I'm happy to see a few of the new plantings in the Woodland Walk survived the deer although many didn't. I chose deer-resistant plants, but no plant is truly resistant. They nibbled hellebore and brunera this winter.
|Hellebore Helleborus x hybridus untouched by the deer -- hurrah!|
When I gave the horse and goat their hay in the paddock this morning, I noticed the white birch tree has lots of catkins.
|You can see the beautiful bark of the white birch to the right of the paddock.|
|Catkins of the white birch.|
|Beyond the white birch -- blossoms of the old pear tree.|
Several jobs remain on the to-do list:
- Add a good layer of compost to each garden (H.H. has the first load on his truck -- will start spreading tomorrow)
- Clean out the potting shed and move into it the plants I started from seed
- Plant, or direct sow, vegetables in the kitchen garden after the last frost
- Add a new layer of mulch to all gardens
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