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March 20th 2005, spring has sprung!

Spring certainly didn't come in like a lamb: very strong winds, up to 70KPH, and rain. But, it was good to see that rain because it meant that all the recent transplants will stay nice and moist and get plenty of opportunity to get established in their new pots, prior to being put out for sale in the coming carport/garage/plant sales. We're shooting for 3 this year. It'll probably be too early for most of our perennials to make a half decent showing before the last weekend of the month, but I suspect by April 9th we'll have a fair number to put out.

Camellia 'Tom Knudsen'It's March 22nd and I was able to get this shot of a nicely lit Camellia at around 5.30 PM, just after I got home. It was a glorious day today and the clear blue skies and bright sun could still be taken advantage of even that late in the afternoon.

This Camellia Japonica 'Tom Knudsen', is just chockablock full of buds. Can't wait until we see many more of them on this one bush, it'll be quite the showing.

Hosta 'Golden Tiara'As said above, we divided and transplanted a fair number of perennials over the weekend. Here is the result of the division of one pot of Hosta 'Golden Tiara' that we took from the one pot and spread it out over 10 with at least one point in each pot. We were able to take the old clump of plants, wash off all the soil, untangle the roots and separate these 10 plants without having to do any cutting. These should be opening up nicely by April 9th I hope, good enough to show people what they look like in the first of our 3 or 4 plant sales this year.

HostasTo the left you see some of the other Hostas we have potted up at this point. The one you see here with it's leaves unfurling is supposedly 'Gold Standard'. We have the following varieties in our garden: 'Patriot', 'So Sweet' - a variegated fragrant flowering one -, 'Groundmaster', H. undulata 'Alba Marginata' as well as 'Sum and Substance', 'Morning Light', 'Golden Tiara' and 'Gold Standard' of course. We also have another fragrant one called 'Fragrant Blue', kind of a slow grower, and an unnamed variety of blue from my brother Bill, which we've actually had the longest and therefor is the one with the biggest clumps around the various beds; we suspected it was a variety named 'Bella' but now know it is 'Fortunei Hyacinthina'. You will find more details on our Hostas right here.

It's our intention by the way to take a good representation of these varieties and plant them out in the planter that doesn't see much direct sun at all during the summer months. It has been serving mostly as a catch-all area for things potted out and it's about time it became a little more productive and a little less cluttered looking. We now have plenty of horizontal surface with the racking I built to hold all the potted things for NEXT year's sales, or so we thought. Just for fun, scroll down to the bottom of the page and see how many divisions and root cuttings are just on grade on the chess board or the bricks!

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' Our new Helleborus, 'Ivory Prince', has been going strong since mid February and shows no sign as yet of slowing down. Too bad our other Hellebore's flowers and buds was rodent fodder this year.

In the space of about 2 weeks our main clump of Dicentra spectabilis has shot up and is now starting to show the firstDicentra Spectabilis buds of the season. It'll be a matter of days before we see the first flower buds opening on them. Same goes for the cuttings we took earlier in February and at the rate they're going they'll be well in bloom by the time our first garage sale rolls around. When things are in flower or nicely leaved there is far less explaining to do and confirms that what you describe on the tag is indeed what you see.

Good Friday, March 25th, was a wonderful day for gardening around here, so we took advantage of it. We were busy dividing and transplanting. We did some more Hostas, cleaned out and dug over the south garden box and populated it with 4 different varieties of Hosta and potted up 8 or 9 of the blue one we have. We divided a clump of Iris siberica 'Caesar's Brother' and potted out 10 of them. And we dealt with an Echinacea clump: we now half a dozen ready for the plant sale. Looks like the rest of the weekend is going to be rather wet, nice timing to keep those transplants and divisions moist. When I say wet, I mean WET, like 40-50mm of rain (that's about 2 inches for those countries that haven't stepped in line with the rest of the world).

A few paragraphs ago I mused about having adequate horizontal surfaces, well, take a look and see if you think that was an accurate statement. What you see on the chess board is mostly the result of the handy work we did last weekend and today: just in front of the table you see the Iris and Echinacea mentioned above, and to the left of the table we have a bunch of ferns we dug up from the front flower bed last weekend.

We did get our rain over the Easter weekend, but we also got plenty of sunshine; at least here in Richmond we did. The rain we did get, which was mostly overnight thank goodness, had a good settling effect on the south garden box we dug over. When we finished with it on Friday the soil was right up to the cap and after only 2 days of showers we can see space again between the top of the soil and the cap. We mentioned earlier in the month that the 'Red Bull' Asiatic Lilies we have are just going gangbusters. This shows you how rapidly they're growing: the pot they're in are 140 mm square ones and they're already taller than the width of the pot. Not only that, but there is ample evidence of root bulbils shooting up as well. In the pot in the front there must be 8 or 9 of the buggers.

The other lily popping up in lots of pots, other than 'Orange Beauty', is 'Lollypop'. The big pot they had been in for the past 3 years was emptied in the fall and where-ever we saw root bulbils on the main bulb they were taken off, if they hadn't come off when lifting the bulb, and they were potted op in 5" round pots. Where we started with only 3 bulbs 3 years ago, we now have probably 8 or 9 which are big enough to flower and as rooted bulbils we must have around 15 or more to give us a good start on growing bulbs to a size that'll flower next year. Problem when you're dealing with uprooting bulbs from a pot with different varieties is that you can quite inadvertently make a mistake in the assumptions you make about the variety you actually have in front of you. It isn't until they start sprouting that you notice that one or more are developing very differently from the others and quite obviously are NOT what you assumed they were when you potted them up. Like in this pot here: obviously the reddish sprout is different from the other two, which look like all the other 'Lollypop' bulbils. This red one could be either 'Kyoto', 'Casablanca' or 'Acapulco', time will tell. And there's another pot with three red sprouts incorrectly identified as 'Lollypop'. Just curious as to whether we'll be any closer to figuring our what they are by year's end.

The weekend might have been kinda damp, but that was mostly overnight and early morning. By the time breakfast was done and the feathered friends were fed it was dry and quite pleasant for the time of year. In addition to all the transplanting etc. we also found the time Sunday and Monday to do some more material recycling: build 3 small tables of slightly differing heights for some of our pots to elevate them just high enough to keep them out of Keats' line of fire when he goes around marking his territory. We also took the little 'boxes' we built last year that hold four of the 140 mm pots with herbs and gave them legs to hopefully make them more appealing for our upcoming plant sale and if they STILL won't sell then they'll be high enough to keep the herbs from being harmed by that warm, yellow stream. These two here have been given a nice coat of stain to spiffy them up a bit.

A little earlier we mentioned the rapid development of the Dicentra spectabilis flowers and speculated it would only be a matter of days before we would see the first of them open up. This is what you could have seen had you been in the yard on Monday the 28th: the first of this season's Bleeding Hearts. Similar size inflorescences can be seen on the divisions we potted up and the large clump of Dicentra 'Luxuriant' shows lots of buds as well.

Camellia 'Tom Knudsen'This will likely be the last shot for the month of March: tomorrow's forecast (March 31st) calls for some rather wet and windy weather, not particularly promising for nice pictures. The Camellia 'Tom Knudsen' has come along way since it's first flower the middle of last month and with all the rain in the forecast for the next 3 or 4 days it probably will be worse for wear when the weather turns nice again. So, feast your eyes!