Our friend, Sandy Marik, brought lettuce and dill she is growing in her AeroGarden. The AeroGarden company recommends replacing the grow-light bulbs every 6 months or so, which I believed was silly, just a company wanting to sell more components. Well now I'm convinced. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the lettuce we're growing here in Barbara's AeroGarden, and the big, leafy lettuce Sandy is holding. She said she picked just 2 Aero-cells (2 little 2 inch pots) of lettuce for that big handful she brought to us. And the dill is big and beautiful. Some of us here at Long Creek Herbs are envious today! And delighted for Sandy, who's enjoying salads out of her AeroGarden. while our light-starved little lettuces, in the background, are pretty wimpy. We'll have broiled salmon with dill and butter for dinner tonight! Thank you, Sandy.
The weather turned from the mid 70s yesterday to the low 40s today & 20s tonight. Perfect, considering the peach tree is in bloom and needs to slow down a bit. Chilly temperatures, even some possible snow tomorrow, will be good to slow down plants that are racing toward spring.
Speaking of lettuce, our WWOOFer, Lauren, planted lettuce last September when she was here. I gave it a bit of straw and it has overwintered fine, even without a cold frame. You can see it's up and will soon be ready to begin harvesting. It's amazing this seemingly soft, tender plant, is one tough cookie.
And speaking of tough cookies, Helleborus is getting nicer every day. The first blossoms popped up around New Year's, and the flowers will be winding down sometime in May. Most of ours are white, or white with freckles in the center, but I have a couple of deep wine-red ones. Hopefully they're mixing because they are reseeding themselves throughout the bed. Later the Solomon's seal will come up between the plants, along with goldenseal, but for now it's just a big bed of hellebores and a few daffodils.
The daffs are really showing off their colors now, as well. I never remember the names of the various jonquils I plant, but I have a considerable collection. By fall I will have forgotten where they're planted and when I start planting new ones, often dig into the old bulbs. Try as I might to find a new location that has no bulbs, after 30 years of planting more each year, I seldom dig anywhere without running into clumps of bulbs.
Steve Bender, Southern Living's Grumpy Gardener, posted instructions for pruning crepe myrtle. I probably should have read those before I started snipping away at mine. A few weeks back I wrote that I hadn't pruned my crepe myrtles since before the surgeons had been pruning on me in 2006. When one is brought low by kidney failure, you just don't have the strength to bring out the pruners and whack away at 16 ft. tall shrubbery. But with a new kidney and renewed health and overall contrary prunicity, I decided it was high time to bring the crepe myrtles down to size. The myrtles bloom considerably better when pruned every couple of years and I pruned, not knowing what I was doing, just using my nurseryman's instinct. But Steve's a true Southerner and it's in his genes, I'm certain, to know exactly how to deal with that truly Southern plant. There he is, standing in his front yard, ready to mow a myrtle down to size.
Many, many years ago, when I was young and newly in the landscape business, I was amazed that crepe myrtles would even grow in the Ozarks. Then one day a landscape customer asked me to eradicate an enormous crepe myrtle in her back yard. It was a very sheltered, protected location and the myrtle had become a 20 ft. tall tree, too large for the homeowner's tastes. The plant had never been pruned at all, so, reluctantly I took a chainsaw to it, sending the wood off to my friend, Dr. Halley Tatum, who loved the wood for carving spoons (he dubbed the wood, "Crazy Myrtle" because of a grandchild's mispronouncing of the words). The rest of the plant I hooked a chain to and pulled out with my truck. I salvaged some of the stump and brought it home to plant, and was amazed at how tough and maintenance free it is. Once it begins blooming in July, it stays in continuous color until frost stops it. I've planted several crepes over the years and once I discovered the method for pruning to get more blooms, I have grown to love the plants.
Peeking up through the leaves and grass, the blue grape hyacinths are tentatively standing up. They'll withstand snow if it comes, but will soon show themselves all over the edges of the lawn like bright blue toy soldiers. No spring peepers today, but lots of spring color. And all the birds coming to the feeders each day have a look of love, or lust, or something in their eyes. I noticed the bluebirds are trying out the houses already, checking them for space and room. Spring is marching northward a few inches each day.