After winter overstayed its welcome with daily temperatures ten degrees cooler than average, we had our first taste of Spring on a fine Good Friday. To my delight, my first bud of awakening appeared in the form of a crocus.
The snowdrops I planted two years ago, alas, never bloomed, so I am doubly excited for my little ones.
After a seemingly never-ending winter, I found the lovely sprouts peaking through the ground this afternoon. Only a mere two weeks ago, I had a school snow day, thinking Spring was weeks away, but these little hyacinths give me hope. Despite the continuing snow, Spring may not be “in the air” but “in the ground”.
Note the photo was taken in 17 degree temps, minus wind chill. Oh, Spring, where art thou?
My sweet beardtongue is in bloom–what a terrible name for a lovely plant. The variety in the photograph above start life with purple-brown leaves that age to a green tinged with purple and produce antique white little flowers by the dozens. Each stalk is hardy and blooms in profusion for almost a month. I have these in shade/part sun and full sun areas, and they grow quite well in each. In the areas with less sun, the stalks grow about a foot-and-a-half longer to reach the sun, but this suites my little “secret garden” quite well.
I tend to have a bit less luck with the fancier varieties like the one I have pictured above . Despite having a far more intense color, they grow much shorter (only a foot compared to the almost three feet of the traditional varieties) and do not get much larger than the one quart container that I purchased at the big box grocery.
Since I became a true gardener, I’ve loved the pastoral elegance of hollyhock–or, as my grandmother calls it, “Alley Weed” as it grew along the alleys in the Chicago neighborhoods when my grandmother was a child. I guess my “elegance” is her “weed”; it must be a generational thing!
For several years, I’ve endeavored do grow tall, stately hollyhock blooms with no luck. Last Summer, I planted mallow (a shorter, more compact variety in the hollyhock family) from seed with sweeping success: the tiny pink blooms were profuse all Summer long–even after I cut them to the ground in Autumn, they continued to flourish. I also planted a “Zebrina” hollyhock from seed last Summer (smaller blooms like the mallow, but tall like the standard hollyhock of old) with no success. Despite last year’s lack of growth, they are blooming in profusion in the more unexpected places this year.
Another quick note about the hollyhock: They were used to cover up outhouses because they grew so tall.
I not-so-secretly desire living in Geneva, IL–with the perfectly manicured lawn, freshly stocked weekly French Market, locally made wine stores, sweet downtown area, and (of course) the annual Swedish Days Festival. I can, however, say that this year (my first time entering) I won 3rd prize in Geneva’s AID Pie Bake-Off with my Apple-Raspberry Pie. Yeah for me! If the title of winning wasn’t enough (which it really is for me as I like lording it over others like a five-year-old with the better toy), my prize was a $50 “spice box” from one of the local gourmet shops, so I can set my sights on cooking other yummy delectables.
I made my “test pie” last weekend to get a consensus what people liked and wanted changed; the pie met with applause and a “damn good” only, so I knew I had a winner. The day dawned warm and sunny, but I put on a Pucci-inspired vintage dress and some sunblock and was off to meet my fate as a pie challenger. While the judges performed their duties, J— and I walked the town of Geneva peeking into to shops and walking the creatively maintained street gardens on the cityscape. Below I posted photographs one of the more artful landscapes located in an outdoor shopping atrium.
An interesting pink flower I found in the garden today; must have been one of my end-of-the-season bargains that I don’t remember purchasing. I like the contrast of such a spiky flower among “softer”, more round petal varieties.