Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Bulbs popping up out of the ground. Fresh organic soil for the new flower beds in the front yard. Dozens of starter pots with tiny seeds growing in the garage. Bed layouts and the thrill of looking at perennials, shrubs and annuals and imagining them in the garden. Spring is nigh unto north Alabama, and we will be ready when it gets here! According to the official "Alabama Gardening Guide", the last frost date is between March 1 and March 15. What an odd contrast to where we were last year, when it was suggested to wait until nearly May to plant!

So, what are we planting? In our patio garden, we're planting Sweet 100 tomatoes and Roma tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, strawberries and bunches - that's BUNCHES - of herbs. We're also hoping to find a couple of blueberry bushes, but so far most of the gardening centers near us don't have any. As far as flowers go, in the large circular beds (in the middle of the yard) we're spreading wildflower seeds just to see what happens. Until we do that, tho, we're enjoying the volunteer bulbs that sprouted up last week. We think there are some daffodils and some irises, so we'll see!

Meanwhile, in the foundation bed at the front of the house we're planting butterfly bushes, spiraea, verbena, nasturtiums and butterfly weed, all in shades of red, white and purple. Finally, in the bed that gets no sun at all we're planting aucuba, hellebore (which has the wonderful common name of Lenten Rose), japanese painted ferns and begonias. At the end of this long bed is an ancient climbing rose. We've pruned it back a bit and it looks to be sprouting new growth (tho it's still 5 feet high!), so I may get a couple of clematis plants to let them wind their way up the woody canes of the rose. Everything I've read about that says roses and clematis make a perfect pairing, and I really want to give it a go.

But - before we can plant -we absolutely have to finish repairing and prepping the exterior siding for painting. The old mahogany siding is buckling in places, and we are just going to have to buy a bucket of nails and a case of caulk! Fortunately, since the house is half stone/half siding, there's less work than there might be.

And wildlife is starting to stir in the woods behind our house. The creek is overflowing with little tree frogs, making the night quite noisy when it's warm. And the deer, bunnies and birds are starting to re-appear as well. We'll see how the gardening meshes with the wildlife. Fortunately, the veggies are all inside a fence, and most of the flowering plants are theoretically critter un-friendly. When we get things in the ground, I promise I'll add photos!

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