Now that the snow is gone and the winter is (hopefully) over, the Temporary Garden has finally thawed out – at least to the point where flower-hunting is possible. But the pickings are still slim, as shown by this one clump of purple crocus and one lonely aconite shivering in the chilly wind.

first crocus 2015

chilly aconite

The aconite does have about a half dozen friends still in bud, although I could have sworn I planted at least a dozen of these in the green last year.

Can I get away with putting catkins in the ‘flower’ category??

April catkins

I’m a bit puzzled by this shrub because although I’ve had various pussywillows in other gardens (Salix arenaria, S. melanostachys, S. chaenomeloides ‘Mt. Asama’ and S. koreana) none of them held their catkins at as much of a right angle to the stem, nor were any of them nearly as large; these catkins are easily 1” (2.5cm) long. (If these were a cat breed, they’d definitely be a Maine Coon!) Logic suggests that this should be the so-called ‘giant’ pussy willow, S. chaenomeloides, but these have absolutely no pinkish tinge and are twice the size of the ‘Mt. Asama’ cultivar I had previously. In any case, this is getting coppiced in the near future because it’s already more than 8 ft tall.

No post-thaw walkabout is complete without a “body count”, but it seems as though there may be only a few at this stage. This pine is struggling to maintain a bit of green at the very top, which means that eventually it will transform itself into a sickly lollipop if it doesn’t expire outright.

bad prognosis

I deliberately didn’t photograph what looks like several swathes of dry burnt Phlox stolonifera with no green in sight; too depressing. And after all, the temperatures still haven’t gotten above the low 50sF yet.

The ‘Leaning Tower of Rhody’ was apparantly left to grow like this (why??) and then the weight of all this winter’s snows certainly didn’t help matters. The weight of the ends will probably prove too much for the branches anyway and so after this spring’s bloom it will get a severe cutting back. There’s barely room to walk between it and the adjacent raised bed as it is.

the Leaning Tower of Rhody

Today is supposed to be about 60F (I’ll believe it when I see it) which means the first chance to get into the garden for a cleanup. It will also be the only chance for a while, because the forecast is for rain every day right into the weekend! And the Money Pit (my name for the house that’s attached to the Temporary Garden) still needs to have the ripped-out  bathroom replaced, which was put off due to a combination of the winter from hell and an obscenely expensive emergency car repair in January. However, it’s now time to get that project going before the oaks start flowering and causing untold misery via pollen coming in through doors that will be constantly opened by the workmen. Timing is everything!