Spring makes a morning visit

The day began like any other with the cat deciding my chest required kneading before 5:00 AM. Once he was convinced that neither my wife nor I had passed away overnight, he snuggled in close while I lay awake far earlier than I had planned. Just as I began to drift back to sleep, my alarm – always eager to satisfy its working expectations – began to play Pietro Nardini’s Violin Concerto in G (which I must admit is a rather pleasant way to be coaxed into beginning the day).

The cat, realizing that breakfast was about to be served, jumped off of the bed just as I was beginning my less than fully awakened walk toward the kitchen to get the tea kettle going and in his usual manner managed to run directly under my left foot which caused him to howl, me to stumble and my wife to shout a near-sleeping command to “settle down out there you two!”

Once the cat was fed and my tea sufficiently steeped – that first sip bringing a hint a jasmine and peach to my senses – I opened the curtains to discover that it had stopped raining! Not only that, but I could see a hint of blue color mottled in amongst the varying shades of white and gray that were the pallet of the morning sky. Excitement growing, I grabbed my robe and teacup and quickly slipped into my rubber garden boots, making my way out into the garden.

Larix decidua 'Pendula'
Remnants of the previous night’s rain collect as shimmering pearls of water on the fresh spring-green foliage of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’.

It was an amazing morning. The sky quickly began to brighten causing the lightest gray clouds to become white with more and more blue color beginning to show through. The air smelled fresh and the birds were singing with great enthusiasm as a small flock of Canadian Geese squawked in their overhead flight. The ground was completely saturated and all the plants in the garden were dripping with beads of water that sparkled in the light of the sun just beginning to show itself through a small hole in the clouds.

The brisk morning air was making it clear that my robe was not quite enough protection to ward off a small chill that wisped up, but I was determined not to miss this beautiful morning stroll – after all, with all the recent rain, and my busy schedule last week, this was the first opportunity I had to give my garden a brief inspection to see if spring were truly upon us. Last week I had noticed that buds on my Picea glauca ‘Pixie Dust’ were noticeably swelling giving them an almost iridescent glow. As I briskly walked my garden paths, I noticed tiny bright red pollen cones beginning to develop on my Abies koreana ‘Blauer Pfiff’ and my Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ had definitely pushed the very beginnings of its new, fresh spring-green growth. I also discovered that my Picea glauca ‘Pixie’ was at least as developed as the ‘Pixie Dust’ with its tiny, swollen, pearl-shaped buds glowing in anticipation of slightly warmer temperatures which would encourage them to pop. I was surprised to see that even a few cultivars of Pine were ever-so-slightly beginning to extend their candles in their spring ritual of new life.

By now the sun was most assuredly up, my legs were definitely cold, and I was ready for another cup of tea. I hope that you are also beginning to see some signs of life in your gardens. Until next time – happy gardening!

Conifer Lover

Satisfy my soul

Quite often, when I am enthusiastically discussing conifers with my friends (whom I like to refer to as pre-conifer lovers), I will guide them to the realization that not all conifers are evergreen. This part of our conversation usually falls somewhere between, “Not all cones are pine cones.” and “Some conifers appear to have berries.”

Today, while doing a little mid-winter garden cleanup and protection from a possible snap of cold arctic air dropping over the Larix decidua 'Pendula'PNW, I was admiring the unique winter beauty of my Weeping Larch. Perhaps I was influenced by the pleasantly hypnotic rhythms of Bob Marley playing on my mp3 player, but I noticed for the first time how much the exposed branches of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ looked like beaded dreadlocks flowing in the winter breeze. Early in the spring those locks will burst forth with soft, light green needles covering the branches to give our “Rasta Tree” a full thick head of hair. The needles darken some as they mature through the summer and then blaze with bright golden yellow tones in autumn before they drop to the ground making a golden carpet beneath the tree.

I could stop there with my excitement about this great garden specimen, but I have not mentioned the versatility of this Weeping Larch. Imagine using this great tree as a tall centerpiece, a corner accent, or cascading over a wall. You might even choose to work with its very flexible branches to create a unique sculpture or topiary. Not only are the larch generally more tolerant of wet soil conditions than other conifers, but with zone 2 and 3 hardiness, many will thrive in cold areas as far north as Alaska.

With all these positive attributes, the larch certainly are another genera of conifer that satisfy my soul.

Conifer Lover

Thanks to my Iseli friends for the links!