Garden Updates: Whatcha' doin'?

christinmk z5b eastern WAApril 9, 2011

I love doing these posts to see what our CG friends are up to in the garden! ;-)

We got a light dusting of snow a few days ago here, but it was much to warm to stick around. The other day was amazingly warm and sunny out, so I went and did some work in the garden.

Truthfully, I did do a lot of sitting around and sun-soaking. Hey, it was a long winter and I need to replenish my Vitamin D levels, LOL!! But a few projects did get accomplished. Last summer I took out a lot of the perennials from the front sunny side garden that I just wasn't happy with. I plan to put some interesting veggies in there this spring, as soon as I get a few more things dug out and temps warm up enough. I did get somewhat of a start on it by reshaping the bed from to humps to one sweeping rounded curve. Just the description sounds better, lol!

I wasn't entirely satisfied with the stepping stone path in the front shade garden either. Problem was it wasn't defined enough. I have the bigger rock-lined pathways in the backyard that I love the look of, so I decided to repeat that in front but with smaller rocks. Didn't have enough to complete the project, but here is a pic of what is done so far:

Later this week I will have to go on a 'rock hunt' to find more!

Moved a coral bell that was in too much shade, plus a couple other items in the backyard. I also found a couple clumps of violets around that I dug up and transplanted to the front lawn. Love the purple in the grass! (sorry this is so blurry, lol!)

Last fall I got a big bag of crocus because I wanted to try and make a sort of 'river' of them across one of the beds. Thought it was going to be a mix of purples, white, and yellow/gold, like what I have gotten before. Not so this time. It turned out to be a mix of dark purple, white, and white striped purple. Now don't get me wrong, they are all gorgeous together! The only problem is I had two little clumps of yellow crocus nearby, so it looked incredibly strange mixed in with all this purple and white. Think I mentioned this on a recent thread, but what drives me batty is when color is not even in the garden. Well, the more I looked at those misplaced yellow crocus the more it aggravated me. So I went and moved them to the other side of the pathway where I am trying to get a second 'river' going. This second one will be dark and medium purples with the yellows.

Next I went and dug up a few Chionodoxa bulbs from the front and incorporated a few into the purple river (these glory of the snow are a nice lilac/pink) and dotted some more through out the back.

Here is a pic of the purple river of crocus. Not anything impressive yet to be sure. Hopefully in a couple years it will be more noticeable!

Last year some of you may remember I put in a raised bed for veggies. Well today I went and got a few more blocks for a small "wing" for lettuce. I wanted a separate space that would be easy to put covering over to keep those darn birds from eating it. Plus I just liked the idea of a separate bed for lettuce. ;-) Here is the start of that:

Got a big bag of potting soil today to replant some of the veggies I started indoors that have outgrown their little cells. Think I will get that done tomorrow. Maybe I will even start to bring out some of my terra cotta pots, move the winter sown containers out of the raised veg bed and spread some extra compost on it for this coming year.

So what are my Cottage Garden buds up to? Is it warm enough in your area to be doing anything outside? If it is too early, what are some of the first garden projects you hope to accomplish once things start to heat up?


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You've certainly accomplished a lot so early in the season! I look forward to more photos as your gardens come awake. Yesterday was the first day it was warm enough here to stay outside for more than a few minutes at a time. Up 'til now, it's just been too cold & windy even with multiple layers on. I spent the entire day clearing winter debris from the flowerbeds. I'd managed to rake the leaves out of a few beds, even working in freezing rain one day, but yesterday was mild and sunny with just a gentle breeze to stir the air. I got SO much accomplished and have the splinters in my hands to prove it! I don't always grab my gloves before grabbing dead winter leaves & sticks.

My small-size collapsible nylon barrel got a workout and I'm 85% finished tidying up the beds. There are Siberian irises poking new growth up along with penstemon, rudbeckia, painted daisy, cushion spurge, lupine, columbine, ladybells and so many others--all winter sown last year--along with hosta, daylilies, lady's mantle, bleeding heart & baptisia. There are six fat buds on my Lenten roses. Took a bit of effort with the spading fork but the first of two clumps of dwarf fountain grass can be relocated to one end of the granite garden bench I added last year. Clump #2 is on today's list of garden chores. The granite bench is there to stay and I think the fountain grass at either end will be a nice contrast. It only gets a few inches taller than the bench height.

The only photos I have are of empty beds but I was determined to have "before" pictures this year for comparison and to get an idea of what changes I'd like/need to make in each one. Here's my biggest challenge of the year:

There are mature peonies & daylilies--lots of them--planted in the bed along with rose of Sharon, Russian sage, sedum and a few other perennials. Crown imperials have pushed their way up through the cardboard & mulch so fingers crossed I have better luck taking pictures of those this year.

Like yours, my lawn is dotted with puschkinia, grape hyacinths and violets that give it a blue tinge every spring once they get going. So far this year the puschkinia are ahead of the others:

Let the games begin!!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 8:05AM
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CMK- Beautiful pictures! Your crocus are so pretty, in their little river bed.

Gardenweed- Your puschkinia is lovely.

The other day, I planted some violas (Johnny Jump-ups) and white alyssum, but it got so cold the other night, my alyssum look all brown...but the violas seem okay.

Yesterday, I went to Fred Meyer and found asparagus plants (yes plants, not roots or seed) and grabbed four/four packs. I brought them home, but when my mom saw them she thought they were so great...I ended up giving them to her. She's so excited, because she bought roots, but had never seen the little plants for sale. She loves them, and my deer would have probably eaten them :)

If they have more when I go back in, I might get a few more, but I'm looking forward to planting my purple (and green) asparagus seeds, later this spring.

Oh, they also had woodland strawberries, which I never see at the local stores. I got six plants and put three around each of my little blueberry plants (the kind that only get 18" tall) in the kitchen garden. The nieces and nephews are going to love them!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 12:07PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

- Finished moving last years wintersown plants out of holding bed.

- Widened edging of rose garden to beat back the invading grass (that was creeping UNDER the stone edging).

- Planted my first raspberries in a large pot (hope to prepare a raised bed for them this coming year, but not sure where yet).

- Planted a peach tree, but don't expect to get fruit from it this year.

- Watching my wintersown tomato seedlings grow by the day.

- Trying not to stress about not seeing any germination for my wintersown columbine, primroses, or echinacea seeds.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 12:30PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA


-gardenweed, your puschkinia is awesome. I got some bulbs last fall- looks like A few of them have blooms! Did you plant the bulbs in your lawn, or did they naturalize on their own?? I planted a couple of grape hyacith bulbs in the front lawn but don't see any signs of life. I'm going to have to try again because I REALLY want to introduce some bulbs into a few areas of the lawn. Do you wait until the foliage is somewhat died down before mowing the grass?
I love that stone bench of yours by the way...the grass will look great next to it.

-LL, did you go for the potting up sale at FM?? They are starting to get a lot of plants out already! Even more than Lowes.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 12:44PM
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CMK- No, I forgot about that...but it's probably why they had so many great plants. The salesperson told me they're getting different types of plants in this year, like the asparagus and woodland strawberries.

Lois- A peach tree sounds so's too cold here, for them, but I hope you take a picture, when it blooms! Then, I can enjoy yours :)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 12:53PM
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Today is a warm pleasant day, but the ground is soaked from overnight rain. Went into the nearby city (well, bigger than the town I grew up in)and everyone was out walking or biking, and the dogs looked so happy to be walking with their people.

I should be sawing up the big apple tree branch that fell during the last ice storm, but I'm not going to do a thing today but take a stroll with my little dog Annie and see what's blooming.

The Bush Clover shrub...doesn't look too promising. By this time it usually has bunches of new growth coming up from around it's base...I see nary a thing today. Sure hope the Chaste Tree newly planted last year will leaf out. I checked the wick and there is green, but no buds on branches, must look up the info about cutting back in the Spring.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 1:14PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I am so frustrated with my winter sowing. I planted lots of seeds in a very cold winter and NOTHING CAME UP in them. They should be up. I mean some came up but not many, at all. Oh, frustrating!
Chaste trees leaf out late Schoolhouse. Mine is only just starting so please don't worry.
My garden is out, the roses are just beginning to pop, we never got the fence in. I have no idea what happened to the fence man we were going to hire. I will still get some fence in, but not in the area I was planning on digging plants out of and replanting in cool weather once the fence was in (the cool weather seems to be about gone here already....). It's going to be 90 today. I am avoiding having to go out and do heavy work in the garden that needs to be done :)
This week I arranged the porch:

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 1:57PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Oh my how I LOVE that porch, ggg. Greens, blues, and purple (periwinkle?) are my favorite combination. I don't have pics, but I am heading out now to plant three enkianthus I just got in the mail. :)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 3:01PM
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LOVE all the pics and Plans! I have been super busy, cuz I volunteered to have an open garden tour April 30th!!! The horticulture society! Sheesh! What was I thinking!? So I got out there with some help, and burned 2 BIG piles of wood debris, weeded about 100ft of garden bed, Dug,put new soil, planted a new bed with 2 climbing roses, Dug out 30ft of ugly photinia(deer munched bad!) Moved the rock border from photinia bed to around other beds, bought a tumbling composter from a friend, made a stand for it(to get the compost tea!) I had gone to a Seedy Saturday and bought a dahlia(waterlily kind)that I put in 1gal planter and is popping up!!!Went looking for a peach tree from a gent down the raod(hole dug beside covered deck)and came back with a cherry(grafted,2kinds)applepear, plum(2 kinds grafted)and a purple eating grape! sheesh, have to go get a peach now,heh heh! Also bought a blueberry bush, plus pansies for planters!!! Was feeling sick all week with a sore throat, went to the walk-in clinic yesterday, have a severe bacterial/viruse infections!!! Have to pound the antibiotics and stay inside...ARG!!!! I have sooo much to do, I've barely scratched the surface(weeding)lol!
Have been enjoying all the spring bulbs I planted(didn't have any before)

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden 2011

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 4:33PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

GGG, what a colorful spot! It looks very soothing.

I'm pretty much done in the garden. Saved the worst job for last and was grateful when dh volunteered to help. Still have to replace the pansies ... maybe next week. I'm thinking about using angelonia this year instead of periwinkle. Maybe I'll save the periwinkle for a couple pots. Transplanted the Harvest Moon coneflowers this spring, but they're not getting enough sun. Guess I need to move them again.

The trees I planted 4-5 years ago are starting to provide shade, so that means re-thinking former full sun beds ... but that'll have to wait until next year.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 4:37PM
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Spent yesterday & today digging up campanula cherry bells. Loved the flower, but I had no idea it was going to run roughshod through the bed & try to get into the grass. I feel confident that I will be chasing that for years to come. lol!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 5:26PM
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CMK - the puschkinia, grape hyacinth & Johnny jump-ups all through my lawn naturalized on their own over the past 25+ years. My mom probably planted them originally--she put daffodils & crocus in between her evergreen shrubs in front of the house years ago. At some point she must have also planted the grape hyacinth & puschkinia. There's a week in May when the whole lawn has a bluish haze to it when all are blooming. The dandelions come next and the first mowing of the year. My neighbor mows the lawn every time he mows his own so I don't have a say about when the grass gets cut. In exchange, I plant his wife's south foundation bed with winter sown perennials and my kids come to clear away the autumn leaves from both yards.

Last summer I drove up to a quarry not far from where I live and asked what a bench would cost. They said between $80-$150 based on the size/weight of the granite. I drove my little pickup to where they had all the granite slabs, picked out the one I wanted and they loaded it on my truck with a forklift. Next morning my son & my neighbor dug the holes, set the plinths in the ground and the bench on them. The bench is 47" long by 19" wide; the plinths are set 2 ft. down in the soil so it isn't going anywhere!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 5:42PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Great pics everyone. Christin, I wish I could ship you some rocks! Everywhere I dig I pull up tons of little rocks that would look nice as your edgers.

We finally warmed up here so I was out Thurs after work clearing out the cottage area. I still have 2 beds to go in that area and will get them done hopefully tomorrow after work. We spent Sat down in RI at a model railway that my DH wanted to see, so today we spent the day in the yard cleaning everything up. Also did some pruning and cursed the voles pretty much the entire day. Oh, the chipmunks too. I hate them all. I'll be lucky if any hosta come up in a particular area of the yard and I think they killed all 6 of the snow fully heath asters I planted last fall. They dine well here. Overall though things look pretty good. I still have the front slope to clear out and then I'll be done for a while.

Until....the seedlings upstairs are ready to be planted out. I think I have over 200 perennials re-potted and I have a bunch more to re-pot tonight or throughout the week after work. And the WS sprouts are here! Once the perennials are moved out from upstairs I'll start getting some annuals going inside. It's been a pretty good pace with each project and not too overwhelming.....yet!!

Happy spring everyone!!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 5:42PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

campanulas GRRR! I have "cherry bells" and it's in a small space but has taken over. This is the last year, probably, for it. I'll take it out in the fall and then touch what comes up again in the spring with a little paint brush of weed killer. I have purple ones in the main beds, they rarely flower: if they do they fall over, and just frustrate me to no end. They get the paintbrush in the fall. I tried taking them out...THEY SPREAD even more. UGH! I hate weed killer but you know, sometimes it has it's place. I feel you bekcgarden

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 6:13PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Christin, it sure feels good to be finally out in the garden doesn't it, I have and am encouraging white violets in our grass. I love seeing peoples garden beds at the beginning of the season and then later on it gives one an idea of how far apart to plant things, most plants actually need more space than you think they do. What interesting veggies are you planning on planting in that bed, I just sent for some Asparagus Lettuce and Taiwanese Head Mustard seed, nothing like being adventurish.

Gardenweed, your Puschkinia is lovely, I don't have any, note to self...look for it in the fall. Before and after pics are so helpful especially when you have to move things, well, I alway seem to have to LOL.

GGG, love what you've done with your porch and ohhhh that purple, I think it is becoming my favorite color although, teal blue or green is giving it a run for it's money.

Calamity, we haven't bumped into each other yet but I'm closing in on you. I didn't get to the last meeting, maybe this week I'll manage to get these old bones there. If not, you're having an open garden aren't you :) get better soon, I think you have what I had about the same time last year, not fun.

Natal, I think I lost my Harvest Moon and a few more cone flowers this winter, they didn't like the early freeze we had, but it's a scratch your head kind of thing, I see Milkshake and a few others made it.

Boy did my clematis take a hit this winter, that early november freeze Urruuggghhh!!! The bad news, most of the vines above ground are toast. The good news, the ones I've looked at so far new growth is coming from the root.

The double lily-of-the-valley I brought home from my DIL's last summer is showing signs of growth, still haven't got it potted up from where I have it heeled in, my bad.

We had a beautiful day, that is the day before yesterday, I was working outside most of the afternoon the sun sure felt good on this old back, today of course, it's pouring so spend some time in the greenhouse starting bean seed in containers to be planted out later, the soil still has to warm up about 10 degrees.

There's a few things blooming around here violets, hellebore, mini daffs, tulips are starting to show their buds. My daphne odora marginata, the perfume is scenting the air in the pool room, I refer to this spot as my secret garden. Thank goodness it's under cover or it would have been toast, only a few blackened tips on some of the leaves.

One bed is completely cleaned out, this is where I'll be moving some of my perennials to make room for veggies so they can get more sun.
I try to do a little bit each day, the legs and back aren't what they used to be, I'm always seem to be playing catch up these days. Oh well, what doesn't get done, doesn't get done, I still love getting out, playing in the dirt.

Dh just brought me a glass of chocolate orange port and some smoked salmon and cheddar on crackers, that's all for now folks, gotta love that man :).


    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 6:27PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

So much fun reading (and seeing!) what everyone has been up to in the garden ;-)

-Susan, LOL! It would be worth it just to see the look on the PO workers face when you tell them you are shipping rocks!!!

-gardenweed, thanks for the extra info on the bulbs in your lawn. It must be wonderful seeing a big mass of color there! The neighbor is a freak for the weed-killer stuff and just doesn't get why I want to keep "weeds" in the lawn, LOL. Wonder what he will think when I am out there planting bulbs?! ;-D

-Annette, love the sound of your white violets! I have a few plants that popped up a pale lavender color, but no white. Might have to buy a couple little pots of white ones to mix in...

Your Asparagus lettuce sounds really interesting- I had never heard of it before. So can you eat the whole stem, or is it only the inner part that is good?

For the front bed I want to try and stick with a red/purple theme. These are what I plan to put out there: 'Speckled Roman' Tomtoes (red with wavy golden streaks), bronze fennel, 'Bull's Blood' Beet (has dark reddish foliage), Red Acre cabbage, Black Pearl or 'Fish' peppers with ornamental foliage, Redbor kale (if I can find any), Red Orach, and Asparagus Peas (Tetragonolobus purpureus) which have red flowers. Maybe some rat's tail radish (Raphanus caudatus) if there is any room left. I hate radishes, but it looks neat, LOL. Also goint to mix in a few red and burgundy colored annuals too...
For the back lettuce bed I have Lettuce 'Red Velvet', Mervielle Des Quatre Saisons, Forellenschluss, Lau's Pointed Leaf, Devil's Ears, and Speckles butterhead.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Okay, here's the report from Texas - it's 9:30 and 85 Degrees out on the patio - what's happening, where did spring go, where are the cool mornings and evenings? We've had nothing but high winds, high temps and no rain, ugh!

First flush on roses is winding down, iris are just getting ready to bloom.

I've been cleaning old beds and mulching which is a must here to save water. Today planted some aster, sedum, and geranium for fall color, and potted some plants for the patio.

So, when y'all are right in the middle of spring and we're dying from the heat, I'll definitely wish I was up North, LOL!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:51PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Christin, Asparagus Lettuce is new to me, my chinese neighbor purposely lets some of his lettuce bolt, he cuts up the stalks discards the leaves and makes quite a tasty dish with them.
He'll be able to tell me more about this veggie and give me some hints on how to prepare it, I plan on surprising him with a few plants.
Asparagus Lettuce is an asian vegetable grown mainly for the stalk, I may never grow it again but I'm game to try it once.
I'm growing Bulls Blood Beet this year too, the leaf is supposed to be real tasty in a salad mix, we eat salads almost every day.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 11:26PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Thanks for the extra info on the asparagus lettuce Annette. I'm going to have to keep a lookout for it- I love trying unusual veg too. Last year I grew 'Cylindra' beet and the greens (first time trying them) were fantastic. My favorite way was gently wilted in a bit of butter topped with toasted walnuts, Yum! ;-)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:19PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

The "asparagus lettuce" is one of the stem vegetables that are cultivated in Asian countries (there are hundreds of them). You can find them listed as celtus or sometimes other names. Very nice!

Here is a link that might be useful: celtus at Kitazawa Seeds

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 1:00PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

I just came off our back hill after pulling out thistles before they bloom and DH was using a sprayer in some very dense patches on the sunny side of the hill (Ortho weed killer- we NEVER use ANYTHING made by EVIL Monsanto!) He tried hard to miss spraying any of the wildflowers.
Down below in the garden I am working on permanently reinforcing the sides of the stream that goes into my pond- the raccoons keep breaking them down. I don't mind if they ENJOY the stream, I am just really tired of building it back again.
My lilacs are about done blooming and daphne is all over for this year, but the veronicas and montbretias are beautiful, also the tecomaria is beginning and will bloom for months.(Hummers love it!) The same goes for the passionflowers. The heucheras are about to bloom and both the fragrant white lady banks vine and the yellow one are putting on a real show. But I am about to leave all this to enjoy a second early spring garden in Virginia where my sister lives! Then in a few weeks I will go up to Oregon to admire my daughter's early spring gardens. These "Chasing Spring" trips are fun but I know that when I return, there will be a whole lot of work waiting for me here. Min

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 3:07PM
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Report from Florida: Miserably awating knee surgery as I watch my hundreds of hours of labor with annuals and roses go up in smoke in our 95 degree temps. We went straight from freezing temps December through February, to high 80's in March and now mid 90's in April. Things usually last until mid-May, but no way this year. The same thing happened last year.

In a normal winter here, I have blooms all winter long on snapdragons, larkspur, etc. This winter was just too cold and everything just sat, doing nothing. And now the heat.
My roses normally start their flush around the same time the annuals hit full stride, but this year the roses were over before the annuals and perennials started showing much color.

Oh, well, I've had three or four weeks of gorgeous color.

GGG, love, love, love your purple porch.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 3:45PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

Sorry Rosez! I hope your knee will be good as new as soon as possible.

Your weather: sorry about that as well, but I don't think anyone knows WHAT to expect in their gardens anymore. We certainly have had strange weather here (near San Francisco) too.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 6:54PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Thanks all for your purple porch comments. Today DH took the day off and we went to Oakland Cemetary for a walk. It's beautiful there and so many local garden designers have worked diligently to create beautiful gardens in and amongst all the monuments. We saw gorgeous roses, some fine shrubs and flowers...beautiful irises. It was very inspirational!
We came home and cleaned rain barrels, re-set some of them a little higher for gravity, and then painted two purple (well, I did while DH managed to clean and de-grease my bike, which is my gardening transportation!). I LOVE my "new" purple rain barrels!
I posted some photos in the gallery on the weekend, they are of the garden (not porches :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:18PM
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lavender_lass(4b) awful to already be so hot! My dad has been living in Florida and is thinking about moving back to South Carolina, after this last year. He said the same thing...too cold over the winter and too hot now. He's in South Carolina, visiting his family this week and he called to say it's 75 degrees and beautiful. Of course, it was 45 degrees, here :)

Ogrose- We're still waiting for the daffodils to bloom! It's the latest spring ever...and I've heard this from people who have lived here 70 years. I think it will warm up a bit and be beautiful, with all the bulbs blooming (hopefully) in the next few weeks.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:31PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

This weekend, I also scored some composted horse output for the raised bed where the tomatoes will live.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 7:04PM
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YES! DH took pity on me, and planted the fruit trees! YES! Tomorrow he is going to plant the peach tree I bought. So nice to get that crossed off "The List". (Even tho most of them were an impulsive off the list purchase.) Hoping to get better and redo all the beds around my firepit(I've been going for the "Room" look) and now that I know what I like(flowers), I have a bunch of new items to plant. Let's hope the meds kick in!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 9:43PM
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