Winter, open but cold, taking its leave; time to get planting
Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 8:01 pm
Though astronomical spring doesn’t begin until some certain millisecond on March 20, for all practical purposes it started Monday. The sun will “cross” the equator on March 20, and every place on earth will have 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. But, around here everybody thinks of March as the first of our spring months.
Well, shoot, we’ve already had some spring. Winter — that is, to us, December, January and February — was well below normal, on average, and even November was cold as well. But, a couple of weeks ago we had a spell of spring weather right in the middle of February. That “false spring” was actually later than it has been some years. Our first daffodil, the indispensible Rejnveld’s Early Sensation, didn’t open outside until February, though some buds were forced a month earlier. Most years they are flowering in January, and we have had them in December at times.
Snowdrops were our earliest bulbs, with just a tentative few open briefly in January before the cold deepened again. Winter aconites, with yellow blooms surrounded with a green collar of foliage, followed soon after, then the “Tommie” crocuses, lavender and purple. By last week these were all in full blow.
Our borders are cleaned out and ready for new growth. We have so much early bulb bloom there, including all those mentioned, that the luxury of waiting until the last minute to remove old haulm is not an option, lest the bulb bloom be obscured.
That late lamented winter of our discontent was cold, but largely open. It would seem that it would have been a fine pansy winter. However, our fall planting of pansies, and others I have observed, took it on the chin. Plump plants that were set in October are now mostly rotted little strings of foliage with just a tuft of new basal growth beginning to show. These will eventually regenerate into blooming plants, but it will take time. A good shot of liquid fertilizer will hurry them up. Granular feeding is much slower to act.
A couple of exceptions have been the pansy plantings at the Ten Commandments monument at First Baptist Church and a grouping at the entrance gate to Castleton Cove on Highway 218 Bypass. These have remained in fine fettle most of the winter and are brilliant now. This is undoubtedly due to the green thumbs and expertise of Peggy Veazey, who did the First Baptist ones, and Joyce McNutt, a Castleton Cove resident, who set the ones there last fall.
We have had virtually no snow to speak of and rain has come in occasional downpours, and not for days on end. This has left opportunity for outside work for anyone willing to brave the cold.
Little digging and planting has been accomplished since the onset of December, due to deeply frozen ground on most days. We must, therefore, make up for that in the next few — very few — weeks.
Heat will bear down on us sooner than we like to think, and we’ll begin crying for relief. Plants, likewise, cry for relief in hot weather, when water uptake is multiplied and moisture amendment is needed. It is not fair to any plant to set it out any later than the earliest possibility. The earlier one is planted, the better the chances of success.
A couple of years ago I reported on a pair of GardenGrips® shoes, manufactured by LawnGrips LLC.
Mine are low-cut models, secured across the top of the foot with easy and quick closures of velcro, making for convenient on-off operation. They have rubber soles, with heavy cleats, good for squishy or slippery ground.
The same company is offering a woman’s shoe, like a clog but with a slightly higher back. The leather uppers are fully waterproof, and the soles have similar cleats.
The “Nimbus” shoe also has a Dri-Tech lining that absorbs moisture, leaving feet comfortably dry.
My assistant has given them a try over the winter and pronounces them fully functional and comfortable when she walks our dog. Unfortunately, the shoes haven’t infused into her any more ambition for gardening than any other shoe she has ever worn.
For more information on these shoes and other models, visit the Web site at www.lawngrips.com or call toll-free at 1-877-4GRIPS1.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 3.3.09
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path