When the calendar says late winter…

…. I pay attention. Spring officially arrives in less than a week but this week, it’s still late winter, the time when I like to trim our Little Lime hydrangea…. even wearing muck boots in the snow. The garden is still dormant but the spring thaw has begun.

late winter snow on ground Mar. 2019

We like to keep these hydrangeas about 4 1/2-ft. tall and fairly well-shaped. For winter interest, we allow the spent blooms to overwinter on the shrubs. Little Limes bloom on new wood so a quick trim of 5-6″ will allow all 5 of our Little Limes in a mass planting to produce an abundance of new flowers sometime in July.

Little Lime in March 2019

We trim out weaker limbs that produce smaller blooms but don’t over trim as some gardeners prefer. We like to have them more natural and sprawling, even touching the ground here and there. It won’t be long now…

Little Lime Hydrangea

A shortcut to spring

Well, it’s not a real shortcut. It’s -2° this morning and we’re covered by snow, but it feels like spring in all our grocery stores. Greeting us at the doors are the true harbingers of spring, bundles of daffodils in large displays selling for less than a couple of bucks each. Next to those blooms, there is the other harbinger of spring, tall stems of pussy willows willing you to purchase a bunch and take them home. I don’t think we’ll see either one in our New Hampshire garden for weeks and weeks.

Tete-a-Tete, Boston Flower Show 2017

I buy the cheerful daffodils to hurry along spring but have ignored the pussy willows until yesterday when I came upon ones I couldn’t resist… Japanese fantail willow, Salix udensis ‘Sekka’, an ornamental willow with contorted branches that I love to use in flower arrangements.

fantail willow 3/7/2019

The stems of the fantail willow are a bit twisted but it’s the wonderful tips that flatten out and curl in interesting formations. The fuzzy catkins are small and numerous. I could keep them in water and watch the catkins mature to a soft yellow, but I’m keeping them dry to preserve this stage of development for floral arrangements to use over and over.

fantail willow 3/7/2019

I did trim off a small twig for rooting. I’ll keep it in water in a sunny window and hope to see small roots forming in time. We’re the right zone to transplant the willow to the yard… not the right plant for my small yard, but nearby in a daughter’s landscape will be the perfect site for future harvesting.

fantail willow 3/7/2019

 

Seasons

My brother in Virginia called yesterday just to check in. He’s good about contacting siblings to chat and maintain our sibling bonds across the miles. During our conversation, we talked about a lot of things but one subject always centers around food.

I might have mentioned we’re eating a lot of hardy foods that we require on these cold, dark winter nights… root vegetables, beef stews and a variety of good casseroles from the kitchen of my personal chef… mister gardener. Brother talked about what he’s enjoying… things like “the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted.”  His dietary menu says a lot more than just what’s on his plate.

While he’s talking, I’m thinking… ‘The coast of New Hampshire is really not that far away from the coast of Virginia but we seem to be on totally different planets.  He’s invigorated by spring and we are still beneath an arctic cloud.’

He also said he’s picked a lot of daffodils in his yard and taken them to friends. He says he sees rabbit tracks in the yard and they are nibbling on his liriope and damaged the bark on his azalea that will soon burst into bloom. I just listened and visualized the scene that might be playing out in his landscape, realizing we are so removed from that glorious early Virginia spring that I love so.

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I miss all of that.

Last night we received 8 or 9 more inches of snow. Gone are the early days where I dashed out with a ruler to measure inches when we first moved here. Snow is not such a new event anymore but I still love to see it.

I know my bulbs, lirope, the few azaleas I have are stirring beneath the snow. They know the season is advancing. I will bide my time, try not to be too envious of siblings in Virginia picking daffodils and eating crab cakes.

A path to the birdfeeder today. 3/4/19

Today’s path to the bird feeders. March 4, 2019

The tables will turn for us in July, when those uncomfortable dog days of heat and humidity and mosquitoes arrive on the coast of Virginia. I remember it all too well.  Uncomfortable, yes, but bearable, and I love it all.

But summers are a glorious time in New England when we never shut a window, nor turn on an air conditioner. Naturally, our long winters can be uncomfortable at times… but what’s not to love? Seasons change, conditions change, and gardens still grow. That’s all this person cares about!