January 2007

Well, 2007 is here and with it the realisation that we do have another rodent around, feasting on Lily bulbs and Helleborus buds. I had hoped to see what sort of flower we'd get from the Helleborus seedling we got last summer, but it very much looks as if we'll have to wait until NEXT year before we can.

There is evidence this rodent has been after one of the bigger Lily bulbs we have nearby the Hellebores in the sideyard, if I'm not mistaken it is a 'White Henryi' the bugger has gone after. New traps have been procured, baiting them however has not yet given rise to the desired result.

By and large winter has been quite mild, as is evidenced by this group of Snowdrops.

And they're not the only bulbs poking their noses through the soil, we're also seeing tulips and daffodils coming up already.

There are plenty of buds and flowers on this ruddy red Hellebore; thank goodness the rodent has mostly passed them by in favour of some juicy Lily bulb, which I'm not exactly thrilled about either.

The only named Helleborus cultivar we have, 'Ivory Prince', blooms much later than the other. Plenty of buds, as you can see, but we'll have to wait another 4 or 5 weeks before we see the first of them open up.

It is noteworthy that a good number of the #1 and #3 pots we planted up with tulips and daffodils are showing plenty of noses. That somewhat concerns me, as I was hoping they'd be in bloom in April for our plant sale, but at the rate they're going they might be done already when the sale rolls around......not much I can do about that, is there?

Well, it looks as if we managed to cull the local rodent population by one overnight, January 7th. When I let Ace out for his morning constitutional @ 6.30AM on the 8th, he was spending an awfully long time sniffing the garden box through the barrier right by where we have the rat trap. Because it is so dark still that time of day I couldn't really confirm, so I had Waita check it later on in the day and she confirmed that indeed there was a dead rat BESIDE the trap, not IN but beside it. Can't quite figure out what happened there but she could tell the bait had not actually been touched, yet the trap had been triggered and we have a dead rat. And that's really all that matters. There seldom is only just one though, so we'll leave the trap baited and we'll see what happens next. I feel quite comfortable in saying though that we likely caught the main culprit when it came to getting the 'lily eater', mainly because of where it was found: right where we first noted the damage.

There is something fascinating about snow on plants around us, isn' there?

This small piece of ice has an almost crystal-like quality to it and its shape is somewhat reminiscent of a Flying Squirrel, don't you think?

We're about two weeks later now, and the frost at our level is pretty much gone, though the night time temperatures still hover around freezing. Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' has grown a bit from where we were two weeks ago, but I don't think we'll see any of the buds open until quite a bit later than what we saw last year, which was February 4th.

The other Hellebore is showing lots of flower and as said at the top, it's unfortunate indeed that we did not get a full flower on the newest Helleborus addition to our garden. From what I can see of the two remaining petals on it, it would have been a nice dark red; oh well, there's always next year and hopefully we'll see more than just the one bud on it and we'll hope to avoid rodent interference.

We've had a couple of days with lots of fog in the morning and all around the yard there is ample evidence of the impending spring. Lots of tulips and daffodils are breaking ground, the Peonies shoots are steadily swelling, recent rose cuttings are showing new buds and I cannot believe all the new leaf buds showing on our Honeysuckle. Our Dicentra spectabilis is showing plenty of new growth and since it is always a good seller at our plant sales, this root will get lifted and divided again this year, probably in another month or so.

One of our additions to the garden last year was a number of different Heuchera cultivars. One of the reasons for their addition is the fact that in our climate they Heuchera 'Black Beauty'are pretty much evergreen and therefor provide some added colour and texture to the garden in an otherwise somewhat sparse winter landscape. This variety is 'Black Beauty' and though I haven't seen much black out of it yet, it does give us fresh leaves to look at in the winter. Not all Heucheras we have are quite this perky, but none have died back and all are starting to show new growth. Heucheras apparently are very easy to propagate and I can't wait to give it a try this spring.

One of our jobs this last weekend of January was to take one of our planters from last year, empty it and replant the Lily bulbs harvested from it. This particular planter had a combination of Asiatic and Oriental Lilies: 'Lollypop' and 'Muscadet'. 'Lollypop' has been just a fabulous grower for us. I think we started out 5 or 6 years ago with a package of 3 bulbs and they have just outdone themselves. Last year we planted up 3 planters, if I remember, with 6 or more 'Lollypop' bulbs and just look what we harvested from the one planter we retained. Obviously the smallest bulblets will not produce a terribly large plant this year, but there are plenty of larger bulbs that should flower quite nicely.