Glancing at the weather forecast, it looks absolutely dreary this week in Tidewater. More drizzly moisture has moved in today with the forecast of ‘chance of rain, patchy fog, drizzle, cloudy, chance of snow’ appearing several times over the next few days. We were energized over the weekend with warm enough temperatures that caused us drop everything we were doing inside and spend two days outdoors. Mister gardener busied himself picking up sticks near the stable while I picked up sticks on the river. Leaves were raked and birdhouses were cleaned, just in time as the bluebirds are actively picking their territories. I wondered why the wren had abandoned her nest last spring. Cleaning the house gave me the answer. I thought HORNET but in checking, it is most likely a wasp nest. The cells are larger than the usual paper wasp nest we see under the eaves.
Mister gardener took stock of his vegetable garden, tuned up the tractor, sharpened the mower blades, and mowed the lirope bed. I took stock of my gardens, checking plants for winter damage, uprighting birdbaths, raking some leaves, and watching the eagles. The dogs bounded around the yard playing keep-away with sticks while I wandered from bed to bed getting reacquainted with all the garden flora. I was happy to see that my dwarf pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira) made it through the winter chill without a bit of die-back from cold. With its dark green glossy foliage, it is hardy in zones 8-10, but seems to be thriving in this seaside garden. It grows in lovely mounds to 3 or 4 feet tall and serves as a perfect compliment to our well-used birdbath.
The pond will need a good spring cleaning. The best way to clean out a pond, I find, is to use a crab net. The leaves stay in the net and the fish find their way through the holes. Cleaning will be done in the weeks to come as the frogs are still slumbering at the bottom of the pond.
There is not much color in these gardens of ours yet. Hellebores are in bloom. Crocus is just beginning to peek through the ground. The amazing pansies, despite the weight of all that snow, are perky and colorful. Finally, the parsley, planted in almost every bed, survived and is green with life and awaiting the black swallowtail butterfly. Spring can’t be far away.
P.S. The culprits in the wren house were identified as Common Aerial Yellowjackets which surprised me. I am accustomed to underground yellowjacket but two dead ones tumbled out of the house as I emptied it. There were 4 levels of papery cones in this small wren house.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester