Sunday Garden Chat: Romantic Views

opiejeanne strawberry pups 2014

From commentor OpieJeanne:

It’s supposed to be raining right now but we lucked out and managed to work for a couple of hours this morning and get some mulch down around the survivors of the hideous freezes we had, as well as their replacements…

The first photo is of the two new strawberry beds, planted with “pups” from our old bed which has been overwhelmed by buttercup. The first sugar snap peas are barely showing above the dirt or I would have shot them specifically, but it’s just that first hint of “knee” that they show when they want to tease us.

The shot with the pansies is of the apple garden, but they’re a little hard to see because they are just starting to leaf out. I stood on the septic hump to shoot the last one in this set, septic hump being such a romantic notion, but it does give a nice view of the garden.

opiejeanne pansies 2014
It begins, here north of Boston — first garden center visit of the year Saturday afternoon, and we came home with a half-flat of allysum and some hardy plants to keep my spirits up while I start the desperately needed spring clean-up process, this afternoon…

What’s going on in your gardens, this week?
More pics from OpieJeanne:

opiejeanne pansies

opiejeanne raised bed closeup 2014

opiejeanne 2014

35 replies
  1. 1
    ulee says:

    The Robins are out here in Maine, hopping and pausing and listening for worms in the ground.

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    OzarkHillbilly says:

    The service berries, which usually bloom in mid-March, finally bloomed yesterday. The same day my dogwoods opened up their first tiny petals, as is normal. I doubt I will ever see that again.

    Spent an hour yesterday afternoon killing tent worms in my cherry trees with a propane torch (I love the smell of burning tent worms in the morning. And the sound, “snap, crackle, POP.”)(Organic too!) I usually pick the egg masses off the limbs during the winter but I seemed to forget to do the cherries this year.

    Pansies. Got some Friday for half price and put them in one of the window boxes. Gonna use the rest for color in the new terraced herb garden along with some alyssum. Supposed to get a frost tomorrow morning so that will have to wait a few more days.

    Finally finished spreading the first load of compost Friday eve, picked up another 4 yards yesterday. I’ll start spreading that today. By the end of this load I should have a good idea of how much I will end up buying this year. I can already say that it will be a lot more than I expected. Oh well. This should be the last year I have to add it… to this garden (but that is a different story). For this garden anyway, from now on manure in the fall should be enough to maintain things.

    Strawberries: I am giving up on their current location. Not enuf sun. Gonna take them out of the raised bed in the current location and put in purple asparagus. The existing asparagus bed right next to it is doing just fine and I will be harvesting some this year for the first time. (WOOHOO!) This will be it’s 4th season, which is one more than recommended, but I wanted to get it well established before the wife and I began fighting over it.

    As far as the strawberries, I have another location picked out, but not the time to build the beds, this year. Next year.**

    **It has just occurred to me that when one says “Next year” in reference to gardening on April 13th, maybe one has a problem? Is there a “Gardeners Anonymous”?

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: Beautiful. In the southern end of Washington Co is the northern part of the St Francois Mts. (they are really an ancient caldera who’s highest pt. is Taum Sauk Mt. at 1772 ft. so calling them “mountains” is overly generous) ANYWAY.… Azaleas grow like weeds all over those hills.

    Our first year I planted a bunch of them all over the place, anywhere I thought they would get enough morning sun. Figured at least some would do OK. They all died, except for the 3 I planted on the southeast side of the house where they get maximum shelter in winter, and maximum morning sun. But even then they never really thrived. As part of the herb garden project I dug them up figuring I would transplant them a little further down along the house. None of their root balls were any bigger than the day I planted them.

    Gonna have to figure out why before I stick them back in the ground. We have potting clay for soil but I composted that area really well before I planted them. Bone meal will help but only for the first year. Any ideas?

  5. 5
    raven says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Let me ask the gardener when she wakes up. I’m strictly a hod carrier on the garden ops. Our local guy, Walter Reeves, has great garden info but I’m not sure it applies to your zone.

  6. 6
    Anne Laurie says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Around here, the wisdom is that azaleas like really acid soil — it’s why they do so well in clay. Is it possible you composted them right out of their favorite PH?

    (My green-thumbed friend back in Michigan could never get azaleas to grow for her, but they’re practically weeds here in New England. There’s one that had grown past the second-story windows when we bought this house twenty years ago, but it keeps sending roots into the public sewer pipe that got installed at that time, and it may have to be taken down just so we don’t keep getting sewage backflow… )

  7. 7
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: Thanx! This in particular really helps. If the Princess has an idea or 2 as well, I’d appreciate it.

    @Anne Laurie: I don’t think so Ann. My clay is so dense water can’t get through it so I doubt it is very acidic. But that is something to definitely keep in mind when I replant them. If the compost isn’t acidic enough I can easily enough shred and add some of my plentiful oak leaves to the mix. Not sure if that would be enough but it should be a start.

    If they grow well in your neck of the woods, I should be able to grow them here. Try try again.

  8. 8
    Betty Cracker says:

    Very beautiful gardens!

    We harvested our first handful of green beans this weekend, plus our very first hot pepper of the season:


  9. 9
    currants says:

    Here, nice weather yesterday today and tomorrow, and I have crocuses and snowdrops blooming, but am just finishing cleanup so nothing else (peas included) has gotten into the ground yet. Soon, soon–so it’s lovely to look at OpieJeanne’s gardens and plan. I’ve ordered strawberries and have a raised bed to put together (including hardware cloth underneath), but they’ll have to have deer netting over if we’re to win any competition from the critters and birds. There are wild strawberries in my lawn and I NEVER get there fast enough.

  10. 10
    currants says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No, no problem at all–just call it long-range planning and nobody will question your plans for next year’s garden now. Hear you on the asparagus! This is my 4th year on an asparagus bed I moved (put it beside another bed which was in a good spot), so I’m looking forward to good stuff come May. Well, middle of May. Today it’s getting composted cow manure (so’s the rhubarb and the garlic). Today or tomorrow maybe I’ll get the peas in; I have volunteer cilantro, parsley and arugula growing, so it feels like I’ve got a garden even though I’ve not planted a thing yet this year.

    Also: OpieJeanne–are those chives/scallions growing along the edge of that square bed?

  11. 11
    tybee says:

    it’s spring here and you can tell by the swarms of sand gnats.

  12. 12
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Great photos OpieJeanne! Been out here in CA for so long that I forgot about big yards.

    @raven: What camera are you using? The color in your pic is gorgeous.

  13. 13
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Lovely pictures!

    Everyone is so far ahead of me. Sigh.

    However, since we are supposed to have about a week of cooler temperatures coming up, I won’t really miss out by delaying planting by a couple of weeks. Good for me.

    Seedlings are up. It looks like I got about 80% germination rate, which I consider excellent. Maybe I’ll think about planting them a bit close and then culling out the weaker plants and still have a hardy garden.

    There are many, many things I should do for the garden before I plant but they just won’t get done this year. So be it. I may go to the REALLY no till method: Poke a hole in the ground and stick a seedling into it. And then go back into the house.

  14. 14
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yes, azaleas love acidic soil, a bit more acidic than tomatoes. Ours are starting to bloom. The bumblebees will be driving the cats crazy for the next few weeks.

  15. 15
    JoyceH says:

    I just planted a chayote. I just discovered them recently, love them but they’re rather expensive. This is an experiment – Virginia might not have a long enough growing season to actually get fully grown chayotes from the plant, but I ordered a sprouted one from California, so maybe that will save some time.

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    GregB says:

    Mostly in raking and cleanup of leaves around the house mode still. Yet, I did stop by the community garden and helped put down some new soil in my bed and helped to move and rebuild the mulch stalls.

    Second year at the community garden has begun.

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    martianchronic says:

    Anyone have a recommendation for a good grape cherry variety? I’m moving with my toddlers to a house with a yard, and I promised them a garden. Any recs for other plants that make good gardening experiences for little kids would be greatly appreciated, too. They are super excited, and I want to build on that, but it’s been so long since I had a yard that I’m not sure where to begin. My girl child has announced that she will grow strawberries, for instance, which is not even something I’ve ever attempted.

  20. 20
    dexwood says:


    I’ve always had great success with Sweet 100.

  21. 21
    opiejeanne says:

    @raven: beautiful!

    My photos are from 10 days ago, near Seattle. And right now we are in the mountains in Southern California, watching the dogwoods start to bloom and missing the tulips and cherries blooming at home. Our house sitter is enjoying the garden while we rake pine needles and feed the Stellers Jays.

  22. 22
    opiejeanne says:

    @currants: yes, those are chives. The clump is 4 years old, started from seeds. We divided them this year and gave some away, outlined another bed with them.

  23. 23
    opiejeanne says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: In Southern California the only way we ever found to grow azaleas was to plant a $10 plant in a $20 hole, filled with peat moss. Our soils there varied from pottery clay, like yours, to a wonderful topsoil left behind from the original Anaheim colony’s vineyard.

  24. 24
    opiejeanne says:

    @Anne Laurie: I’ve never seen an azalea that big! In Ireland we saw rhododendrons as big as big houses, and azaleas are close kin.

  25. 25
    opiejeanne says:

    @martianchronic: Yellow pear tomatoes produce really well and the little tomatoes look like little pears. We have also had tremendous luck with Sungold cherry tomatoes.

  26. 26
    martianchronic says:

    @dexwood: Thanks, dexwood, I’ll look into that. Are they good producers?
    @opiejeanne: Thanks, opiejeanne. The kids would probably love a different looking, pretty tomato like a yellow pear, they’re all about the visuals and novelty. I may do that. Not sure what I’ll be able to find in the garden places around here, maybe I should look online. Can you buy actual tomato plants online now, or do you have to start from seed for the interesting varieties? Probably too late for us to get things going from seeds.

  27. 27
    currants says:

    @martianchronic: You can try Territorial Seeds for plants (not sure they still have some left)–they’re reliable and sturdy plants.

    If you’re going for strawberries and you want some this year, try a strawberry barrel using everbearing berries –see the ones down at the bottom of this link— (otherwise I think they need a year to settle in before they can produce). You can google how to make the barrel (or you can maybe find a terra cotta one for $)–takes a hole saw (1.5-2″) and a 30 or 55 gal food grade drum. You’ll want to find a supplier that carries berries/plants for your zone, wherever that is.

  28. 28
    martianchronic says:

    @currants: Thanks! We’re zone 5, I think. Chicago area. From what I’m gleaning online, strawberries are a complicated business. Though, when looking for how-to online, sometimes it seems like everything is a complicated business. I’m thinking that I might try a few, small pots of strawberries that my little girl can care for on her own with an eye towards bringing them in over the winter. The new place has tons of windows, it seems feasible. Maybe a window box would work for our purposes. I already have a couple of short, terracotta boxes we can use.

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    opiejeanne says:

    @martianchronic: can’t remember if you said where you are but I would think yellow pear would be available at most garden centers.

  30. 30
    martianchronic says:

    @currants: Thank you for that link!

    @opiejeanne: And everywhere on line, apparently. How do people even choose, the variety is amazing. Must restrain impulse to plant ALL the tomatoes.

  31. 31
    opiejeanne says:

    @martianchronic: lol. I live just outside but we also own a tiny old mountain cabin in SoCal bought when we still lived in Anaheim.

  32. 32
    martianchronic says:

    Do you garden in both places? Getting to garden in more than one climate at a time sounds awesome but a bit intimidating.

  33. 33
    opiejeanne says:

    @martianchronic: not really at the cabin these days. The front is planted with periwinkle and there are some daffodils but he drought is starting to affect them.

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    martianchronic says:

    That’s a shame about the drought hurting your plants. Wonder what the new normal will end up being with the climate, or if “volatile” is actually the new normal.

  35. 35
    opiejeanne says:

    @martianchronic: thanks. I’m more worried about the forest trees than the periwinkle.

    I’m at the angels Mets game right now. Sorry I didn’t answe earlier.

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