The Snow Is Gone

3/15/14
The snow we had the first week of March.


The snow took its time retreating because of the bitterly cold temps.  Eight degrees one morning on our thermometer!  So I went out and bought myself some tulips at the grocery store.

Now after four days at or near 60 degrees, the snow is gone, and the crocus seemed to instantly appear.

The tulips whose tips had just emerged at the end of January have stared growing with the warm temperatures.

My exploration of the backyard garden sans snow revealed the first green leaves of the primrose.


In the backyard garden I also found the first hellebore blossom.

After all the snow and ice storms, the nandina bush has lost a lot of leaves and is looking kind of shabby.

Poking around the front garden I found a hyacinth emerging just in time for the first day of spring this coming Friday.

Winter Sun

2/9/15
Tulip buds

     Now that there is ten hours of daylight, the plant world is waking up.  There is a sense of spring in the air.  I've noticed a few green shoots of daffodils and tulips here and there in the yard.  The sun is higher in the sky, and it i s light past 5:30.  I am a warm weather lover, and I can't wait for the next three weeks to pass, because March 1 is spring to me.

     Meanwhile, to get my sun fix this winter, my family vacationed in the Palm Springs, California area.  We had cloudy, rainy weather on day, but the rest of the time was sunny and warm.  The following photos are from some of the places we visited while in the Palm Springs area.

Joshua tree

     We spent a day at Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua trees

     There were acres of mature Joshua trees.

cholla cactus

     And areas of cholla cactus which look soft and cuddly, but whose spines are very painful and duifficult to remove.


     There were also some very impressive rock formations in the park.


     Another extremely interesting place we visited was a windmill farm.  The Coachella Valley, wherein Palm Springs and other desert cities lie, has thousands of windmills that produce one quarter of the power for Los Angeles.  There are blinking red lights atop the windmills that helps keep the birds away.


     We saw an area of the farm where there are both windmills and solar panels.


     The valley is surrounded by mountains of up to 8,000 feet tall.


     We saw several different windmill designs, including the newest, most powerful windmills at 400 feet tall.


     Another beautiful, natural place we walked through was the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.  We only visited the gardens that contain desert plants from many of the deserts around the world.


     One of the many plants we saw in the gardens was this pencil cholla.


     Brittle bush is another plant we encountered.


     One of my favorite plants we saw was this beavertail cactus.


     The most unusual specimen we saw was this Boojum tree.

     It seemed there was a lot of money and planning that went into these gardens.  One could spend many more hours than the afternoon we spent there.  The amount of plants was truly impressive.

     Happy Valentines day to all.  And now onward to spring!

On To The New Year

12/28/14

Thanksgiving is gone.






Christmas has just passed by.

All the leaves are long gone off the trees, except for this one holdout tree in my yard.

The back garden is bare.

Most of the annuals and perennials in the side garden have disappeared except for the lavender front left, the fountain grass, and the spent blooms on the goldenrod in back.

The electrical box garden is through blooming until spring.  the scotch broom is in the back, the abelia bushes midway, and the Shasta daisies in front.  All of the milkweed plants have died back.

There is still hope lingering in the back garden.  A brunnera seedling plant is sheltered by the bricks and is still green.

A tulip bud has emerged in the back garden too.  After a cold November, we had some warm December days.

          Although winter is upon us, and it is sad to see the bare gardens, my thoughts turn now to the new garden year.  I just received the Burpee seed and plant catalog for 2015!  Happy New Year!

Fall

10/26/14
Fall color on trees in my back yard

     We have moderate color on the trees in the area now, and soon we will be at peak color.  I have noticed leaves accumulating on the ground for at least a week.  Soon the yard will be blanketed with them.  The following photos show what little growth is going on in my gardens.







The last rose is blooming on the very old rose bush in the back yard garden.

I purchased a pot of mums from the grocery for table decor for a party, and then planted them in the back yard garden.

The Carolina jasmine vine that was severely damaged by the snow and cold last winter has rebounded and attained a lot of growth up the fence and arbor.  But it produced no flowers this year.

There are various mushrooms growing in the lawn, but I haven't seen any in my gardens this year.

We have been seeing lots of deer feeding in the woods behind the house.

Pumpkins on the front porch

     I dread losing daylight savings time next weekend.  To me that signals that winter is coming fast.  I will savor the warmth of the afternoon sun as I walk the dog for the last few weeks until winter descends.  Happy Halloween.

Slowing Down

10/9/14
goldenrod Fireworks

     It is definitely fall here, with temps in the high 30's two nights last week.  We had to turn the heat on.  By next week, I'll get out the winter blankets.  But fall is generally nice here in northern Virginia with warm, sunny days.  The leaves are just starting to turn on the trees.  I did some cleaning out of my side garden.  I took out all the fading zinnias that were only supposed to get two feet tall, but ended up being four feet tall.  Now the goldenrod fireworks bush is finally visible.  There are still a few late blooms in the side garden.  Here are a few photos of what is still blooming.


The side garden is looking kind of bare with the zinnias gone, but you can see the goldenrod bush now.  
 
The marigolds are doing well.

There is one late bloom among the stand of black-eyed Susans.

A few short blooms are still appearing on the buddleia bush.

After pruning all the dead branches on the midnight salvia, it produced a few flower stalks.

In an out-of-the-way dark corner in the back yard a lonely hosta just flowered.  I rarely go back to this corner.  I planted this hosta in this bare space in the spring and promptly forgot about it.

The grass is full of black walnut fruit that has fallen from the black walnut tree in the back yard.

In the garden surrounding the electric box the milkweed pods have opened.

Some of the seeds from the milkweed pods have been blown into the scotch broom bush nearby.

The deer are intensely foraging now and have eaten some stems off my jumbo begonias that line the front of the house.  They never bother them until October.

     Fall is nice here, and it can be warm until mid-November.  The one thing I really miss is the birdsong of summer.  I don't know a lot about birds, but yesterday when I was walking the dog, we passed a tree where a bird was trilling away for the longest time.  It was the first time I hear extended birdsong since August.  It made my day.  I decided I was going to put a clear bird feeder up against my kitchen window, so I could see birds close up this winter, and hopefully learn a lot more about them.

Summer Turns To Fall

9/21/14
mums in side yard garden

     Fall has arrived here.  After being in the 90's the first week of September, the temps in the last two weeks have been below normal.  We've been down in the 40's at night.  But on this last weekend of summer, summer weather returned.  It is supposed to hit 90 today.  Fall is beautiful here with warm, dry, sunny days.  I planted some mums in the side yard garden to replace flowers that are no longer blooming.  But there is still blooming going on in most of the yard.


The lavender is still blooming in the side yard garden.

The glossy abelia bush is loaded with blossoms

My goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) Fireworks just flowered last week.

In the electrical garden, surrounding the electrical box, the milkweed plants are full of milkweed bug beetles.

The coleus in my deck pot is full of blooms.

Since I cleaned out a lot of the cosmos from the garden, the Japanese anemones are much more visible.

A photo of one of two annual vinca (Caranthus roseus) plants that reseeded from last year.

The pink dogwood tree is full of red berries that the birds love.

The loriope plants have lots of purple blooms.

The back yard garden
 
     The back yard garden that surrounds the patio is lush and full of flowers and plants.  I wish it could stay this way all year.  At the first frost all this will be gone.  Sigh.