Hello fellow readers,
As I write it’s the second day of March and a wild storm with high winds and heavy snow is underway. After a mild February with temps in the fifties, even some seventies, soil is saturated and soft. The risk of trees falling causing power outages are high. Talk about March coming in like a lion, which makes me think of dear Mom who always had an old-fashioned saying at the tip of her tongue. Turns out the history of the well-known folklore, if March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb, is an old English proverb and a common Pennsylvania saying. Did you ever hear when March blows its horn (meaning thunderstorms or heavy rains) your barn will be filled with hay and corn?
Just yesterday I noticed my Montauk daisies (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) have started to bud which is way early. Each spring I threaten to remove the unprolific fall bloomers. The last few years they’ve sported ugly brown leaves rather than bloom their happy white daisy with yellow centers. Like many perennials when they become too crowded, Montauk daisies become lazy bloomers. They should be divided every two or three years in early spring just when new growth appears. Another tip is to cut down Montauk daisies to about six inches in early spring and then another pruning in in early July to encourage an abundant fall display. Realizing I may not have given my lazy bloomers their needed grooming, this lazy gardener (busy tending to other gardens, thank you very much) will give the Montauks another chance. Their early buds indicate new growth has started, but it’s still winter and tromping around plants when soil is saturated can cause soil compaction which is not good for tender roots. So, I’ll wait until spring officially arrives.
For now, those of us itching to play in the dirt, seed starting inside is just around the corner so gather what you need to get ready. A rule of thumb is eight weeks before the last frost date (normally May 19th here) which means the last week in March is the time to start seeds indoors. Check out previous columns on how-to: Starting Veggie and Perennials Seeds Indoors and Green with Envy Seed Starting Tips.
I noticed snowdrops (Galanthus) in bloom during yesterday’s road walk with Miss Ellie. Despite today’s heavy snow, these little droplets of tenderness will manage just fine and their sweet little faces will soon reappear through the melting snow. Indeed, despite the odd anomalies of winter, new beginnings are already underway. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com
March 10th Storm Postmortem: What a thrill to write you now with power restored after seven days without. Sadly, a wave of trees tumbled in the woods and behind the barn, but only one large hemlock branch crashed onto the house. The winds propelled it towards the office before it tangled into the weather vane which seemed to prevent it from driving into the window by which I was sitting. It crashed to the ground between the garage and my beloved umbrella pine, leaving the pine unscathed and the horse motif weather vane only slightly bent. The slow-motion drama lasted only seconds leaving my heart filled with gratitude. The damage could have been far worse. Hope all of you fared okay and are safe and sound and itching for spring :^).