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March is a busy month at Swallowtail Cottage. P1050781Garden chores explode from zero to sixty overnight. This year major garden edits were necessary, as plant/shrub installations made in 2001 needed removal, requiring the assistance of my garden man, his assistant, and their chipper.

Our last snow lightly dusted the gardens earlier this month,P1050773 then quickly vanished into spring delights. The heirloom crocus arrived on time, showing healthy multiplication following last year’s installation.

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Cloth of Gold ‘Crocus angustifolius’ once known as the Turkey Crocus was grown in gardens as early as 1587

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A delightful feature of this crocus is the brown stripe on the underside of the petals…hence Turkey crocus?

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Snowbunting ‘Crocus chrysanthus’ c. 1914, pearly buds open in January

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This crocus variety was on the property when I purchased it in 2001. Although many were transplanted into a 12″ deep trench along with two-thousand daffodils, these wee flowers find their way to the surface and multiply every year. Thanks to the help from Old House Gardens, I identified this crocus as “Vanguard, 1934, a former Russian wildflower that opens its platinum outer petals to reveal and exciting contrast…inner petals of luscious amethyst. The earliest-blooming crocus, Crocus vernus “

Unusual warmth brought many of the early heirloom daffodils out of the ground in vast profusion. They definitely hear the call and continually remind me how I adore these easy care perennials.

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Adorable Tete a Tete daffs appear in profusion and multiply with abandon

The overgrown, tired, and disgruntled shrubs/groundcovers were tagged and the chipper made quick mulch while this gardener exhaled with relief. Gone were the four s.laurels, numerous mats of rug juniper, one chindo viburnum, and fifteen barberries. Gone.

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The plant tag stated these s. laurels would mature at 3X5. How often plant tags deceive…

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Gone in seconds are the s.laurels, leaving space for grand hostas and one Henry’s Garnet Virginia Sweetspire Itea virginica, while allowing improved light and air for the Green Velvet boxwood neighbors.

For six hours the chipper chipped, as I busied myself with pruning various shrubs, transplanted a smaller chindo and gifted hostas, and cleared up the deep shrub borders to add bulk to the chipper…have I mentioned how I adore chippers? Men with the right tools are worth their weight in gold..P1050799

P1050791Once the help departed, I gazed at a much opened landscape and raking chores, as the juniper required a stump grinder…for hours. Left were the fractured branches, requiring raking and pulling to bring closure to the wounded slopes. Gone.

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Newly transplanted fringe tree overlooking one peony bed…all in need of raking and fresh mulch.

Following the application of 48 bags of pine bark mulch and 10 bags of river rock, the landscape is somewhat calm, and areas of erosion are addressed. The fringe tree ‘Chionanthus virginicus’ was transplanted from the rear lawn to the new front slope, and one dwarf Gingko ‘Majestic Butterfly’ will be installed when located. When baled pine needles arrive, they will be spread as mulch to the lower front slope, behind the pine bark borders.

Two years ago, I began experimenting with pine needles, and find them highly satisfactory. They stay put during heavy rains, are attractive in the deep shrub borders, and are pleasant to walk on. I rake fresh needles in December from the local school, and only purchase the baled needles when necessary.

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Rock will slow down water during heavy rains and pine mulch will dress both the blueberries ‘O’neal‘ and the front of this sloped bed

I must share a winter discovery from the Dover Saddlery catalogue…a waterproof boot by Ariat, which I thought would make the perfect mowing/garden boot. Sans horse these days, I still love the smell of leather and often visit the local store, just to inhale. Following this week’s garden marathon, I attest these boots will serve me well. P1050801

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Retired are my 15YO cross trekkers ~ many a mile we walked together

So off am I into another gardening season in central Virginia. The raised veggie beds are converted into heirloom daffodil/tulip beds and the 2500 daffodils in residence will soon dazzle me and my market customers. Come May the rescued iris and heirloom peonies will follow suit, and will fill my soul with the meaning of the garden. The other 2016 garden chores of tackling the wild violet turf infestation and mowing schedule will keep me busy until year’s end.

I wish for you a healthy, happy spring. Even if you are hold up in an apartment, get out to your parks and fill a balcony container with your favorite something. Grand or small, plants give us humans hope and joy for today and tomorrow.

Old gardeners never die, they simply spade away…

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved