The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

The Optimist Song


By Lori


After a confusing winter…we appear to be experiencing an early spring.
This could be good…or not…but the snow continues to recede and the tenuous warmth is thawing the frozen soil. March came in like a lamb this year…just hope that it’s going out like a lion doesn’t involve five feet of snow …as it has in some years past. If this is truly spring…let’s not have any recidivism. PLEASE!

I’ve been watching the slow demise of my Alberta Spruce. This is an afterthought pic… I’ve just taken it down to a stump and I will be trying to extract the roots…and replace the spruce with something else…
It is part of a triumvirate in my front yard… A goldthread microbiota (false cypress), a teardrop shaped cypress and the dwarf Alberta Spruce formed a pretty group. But the march of time has seen the cypress shoot up…the microbiota thin out… and the little spruce which looked so full actually had two leaders and one is dead! Alas! I didn’t want to start pulling up shrubs and replanting at this point… they need rejeuvenation…but I fear it’s too late for the spruce.

The Red Maple, which was three small twigs when we moved here…is hanging over the sidewalk and brushing the eaves of the house… it needs to be taken in hand too. Last summer I bought a telescoping tree pruner. Besides being a tool that is effective at clearing inner branches (small) and thinning the dripline it is also a first rate shoulder disconnnector…and wrist strainer! Ouch! and I can’t forget the pain in the neck, and that reeling feeling of looking upwards for too long. I have done what I can and must admit that I need a professional with a saw to take out the top of the tree without destroying it’s fountain shape. That pruning is usually done in the late fall or the cold of winter so that the cuts can callus before the sap run which will be sooner this year because of the early warmth. I think I’ve boxed my self in on this one too!

The lavender and the old rose are still alive. I pruned the rose severely about 18 months ago and it was coming along nicely when the leaf roller and sawfly got to work on it…as well as a curculio type beetle that burrowed into the hips and caused the young buds to fall before ever opening! Since the insects only have one cycle, the rose was able to recoup and although it is not a repeater …it will rebloom if all the spent bloom of the first flush is removed. The downside of the pruning was that the blossom was smaller and added to the insect meant that last season my rose (R. Therese Bugnet) did not bloom as profusely as before…but the scent was heavy and the smell wafted as usual… There are so many lovely things about this rose but the one problem (if it can be seen as such) is that it has copious, viscious thorns. When pruning or dead heading gloves with gauntlets are needed… Once when I was clearing away some of the mess on the soil beneath it, I poked my finger with a thorn and bolted upright…the thorns on the overhanging branch grazed my scalp! From then on I dressed and prepared for work on that plant like I was going into surgery with a porcupine! lol. The lavender that grows beneath it is getting old…these plants are about 5 yrs. old and woody and gnarly…but every spring with a few clips it shapes up and blooms and scents at the same time as the rose. It’s like having a perfumery in my front garden… and when the blossoms are picked the leaves are resinous and sweet when the dew descends.
The cleanup in the front garden, last fall, was hasty. Leaves where raked into piles and mulched with the lawnmower… then spread over the beds in a light covering. It was interesting to see how it disappeared. When I raked the first cleanup…it was still there but was darker in colour and smelled humusy! It’s so nice to see nature working.
The large bed of geraniums have survived the winter and need a bit of top dressing… every spring along with the leaf mulch they like to have their roots tucked in! Here is another plant that deserves praise. When I first moved here a friend from work gave me a tiny clump… and I now have this geranium as ground cover in three areas of my garden…I believe that the one I have is Geranium macrorhizum… it’s flowers are a cerise pink…and it blooms only once. The leaves are beautiful, five lobed, deeply cut and fuzzy on top. . they smell wonderful when watered or disturbed which is another plus in my opinion.
Just above the perennial geranium is the sagina subulata or Irish Moss…it is a deep dark green…but the plant of the same name in yellow is commonly called Scottish Moss and I have more of it than the Irish type.
It has formed a dense mass and is thriving in partial shade under a maple tree..(the soil is kept quite dry by the tree) Each spring I top dress with peat moss and compost…just a light dusting and use a brush to sweep it in. It is challenging to keep the grass (used to be part of my lawn) from inter weaving itself with the sagina… it may sound abnormally picky but I use an old pair of serger tweezers to pull out the weeds when they try to start up in the spring…that seems to hold til early summer when weeding is necessary again. The walkway in the front garden is pea gravel and the sagina happily spreads into the walk. It appears to like the stoney soil.
Each spring I fertilize it with the algae rich water from cleaning out the pond… that and the compost keep it quite happy From a four inch pot I now have cut numerous “plugs” which I have used to establish a “mossy path” in the back garden. This plant is an excellent ground cover …very low growing and visually appealing, it has tiny white flowers in spring.
Also under the maple tree, is the plant I love best… and so do the rabbits! It’s Heuchera, Palace Purple.

Have to admit it’s not looking so great at the moment. some of the roots are disturbed and the heavy stems are exposed…the rabbits love the leaves… and one little rabbit in particular has been pruning it relentlessly.

At this point, it seems a little late to point out that this blog is not trumpeting my successes! Out in my front garden the boxwood is green and lovely and back into shape after looking crushed by the weight of snow…same for the euonymous, the hydrangea, and the spirea…but when I look at the photos I’ve taken today, you wouldn’t think that there was anything there! my favourite miracle is how fast it all fills up, but today it looks like I should plant some grass seed! (heaven forbid!),

The geraniums look like the best of the lot… the rosebush may soon be budding… the clumping grasses are filling in well…and I’ve decided that I will add a few more of them here and there. The transplanted bergenia is still there… looking a little worse for the winter…and the lobelia, the thyme, and the violets are still hardly emerged from the soil… the leaves of the muscari are visible but the hyacinthe and daffs are yet to show.

Given the photos I’ve uploaded it’s hard to imagine that I could be optimistic…but I am… every season is different…and this spring will be my last in this garden… I think in a few weeks, barring disastrous weather, it will all be thriving and green with the bulbs starting to add colour…


More blog posts by Lori

Previous post: Tempus Fugit...a reprise

Next post: Splish...Splash!



Isn`t it great when Spring comes around and the new growth starts showing through? I know what you mean about being attacked by roses. One of mine in particular seems to reach out and grab me when I prune it, I think has a grudge against! :o)

11 Mar, 2010


I'm glad that the snow is on its way out - and that you're feeing optimistic about your garden, Lori. I do have my first mini-Narcissi in bloom, and that helped me smile today! Everything is weeks behind over here - my 'February Gold' Narcissi might be 'April Gold' this year, and I've lost a lot of plants.

Let's try to find something to smile about every day!

11 Mar, 2010


What a lovely blog and full of interesting gardening facts.
Hubby has the long pruners with ropes etc and he complains of shoulder ache etc. I thought he was just using it as an excuse not to cut the trees. oops:o)

11 Mar, 2010


Lori ,I`ve got the flu, its a proper grey damp day but you have cheered me up reading all about your garden coming back to life, I too have roses that fight back even though I`m helping them,lol. Got one of them long pruners as well and have to say they do hurt when using them !!!!!!!! Spring is on it`s way albeit a bit slow this year...........

12 Mar, 2010


Lincslass and Seaburngirl... so glad to have cheered you up a little Ll, and explained hubby's reluctance to prune, never know what answers you'll find in a goY blog, aye? lol...
I've always envied your February blossoms, Spritz... sorry to hear that things are delayed... hope you haven't lost too much. (I'm thinking of your geraniums here) I featured the g. macrorhizum in this blog because it is just a super resilient plant...just all 'round wonderful. Saw the pic of your iris reticulata (?) the nice deep purple one... not sure I'll get any of mine up this year... kind of lost them when I dug some of the bulbs up last fall... I'm sure I left some for this spring, so I hope they come to light soon!
LOL...Labdancer51! If someone had been watching the debacle with that rosebush they could have won money of a "Funniest videos" contest...but I can say that being on the receiving end of those spines is anything but funny! It's also a challenge disposing of the canes... I finally cut them down into small pieces and double bagged them and let the garbage men take the risks! You can tell how special the flowers must be if such sacrifice is required!

13 Mar, 2010


Hope your bulbs are soon cheering you up Lori....ours just coming into flower....late though...

14 Mar, 2010


I'm sorry I missed your comment after such a long time..BB/Jane. Well, they all showed up...and I had next to no time to garden this summer...can't believe it's on the cusp of Autumn already! When we're waiting for them to show up time seems to creep along...Now I want to holler "Whoa!" I have plants to dig...and pot up and transport...I'm tired just thinking about it...I'm praying for super human strength...

11 Sep, 2010

Add a comment

Recent posts by Lori

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    20 Jan, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    23 Oct, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    4 Apr, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    11 Apr, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    25 Aug, 2008