It’s January in Ames, Iowa, and it’s snowing outside.
I live in Cedar Rapids, but, along with Audrey, am visiting Amanda, Matt and Elizabeth. Spending a little morning time before the ladies arise (Matt and I are the early risers, apparently, and he fixed breakfast, toast and some fancy oatmeal with raisins and nuts and a name I don’t know) writing a blog post. (Matt says breakfast is Muesli.)
Somehow, a quiet snowy late January morning puts me in the mood to look forward to spring.
As my longer-term blog fans know, this blog started mostly about gardening, although I often diverge from that topic. What am I looking forward to from the garden this spring?
Well, for one, I would like to see more of our trees flower. We have four crabapple trees in a row in the back yard, and 3 of the 4 are pretty consistent bloomers. The fourth, a much younger tree, a “Sargent” crabapple, has not yet bloomed. Last year, it grew to about six feet tall, so I’m hoping this is its spring to reveal its flowers. Photos I found on line show white blooms, which would be nice since we have two pink and one white trees already, so white would fit well, but I’ll take whatever.
We also have two young crab apples in front, one of which bloomed last spring even though it was only about four feet tall. I’m hoping both bloom this year.
We planted two apples trees (not crab apple) in our back yard last year to replace two hawthorns. We thought the yard would be more grandchild friendly without two thorny trees on a hillside. I didn’t discard the hawthorns, one is in the side of the front yard where, I hope, it is discretely out of common paths of play, and the other is in our woods in back. So far, the deer have not munched it to the ground, which makes it unusual for a young tree, so maybe there is hope. I have no idea what the flowers or berries of these tress will look like, and with transplanting, both are pretty small. The one in front is under 3 feet tall. It would be a surprise if it bloomed yet, but maybe it’s slightly taller cousin in the woods might. Despite being thorny, the trees and leaves are nice looking, so we’ll see.
I also planted (from bulbs bought the day Elizabeth was born) tulips, crocuses, hyacinth and irises in the “new” fence garden. I am anxious to see what will come up, but naturally, given my poor history, have the lowest expectations for the irises. I purchased a Siberian iris from HyVee Drug Store for the new garden last year, a plant rather than a bulb, and it was one of the few plants to quietly expire rather than thrive in the garden. What is it with me and irises?
I don’t usually have the same poor luck with peonies. We had a couple of clumps when we moved in, and through divisions and purchases, I have successfully spread more peonies.
This spring, to be honest, the thing I’m most looking forward to are peonies. They don’t have much bloom time but are spectacular heralds of full spring, and I like them. I purchased a pink one for the new garden—we have red and white elsewhere in other gardens, but not pink—and in September dug up several clumps at the old farmhouse.
One of those clumps was the “feathery” leaved peonies that Iowans call “Chinese” or “Japanese.” Don’t know the flower color—I’m hoping several of the plantings will come up.
There was also a large clump of “regular” peonies, color unknown. I like variety, but I also think you can’t really go wrong with peonies, so I’ll take what I get, hope I get something.
This may not be much of a bloom year for the new peonies—I will be satisfied to see some plants and content to wait.
But irises? Have a lot of plants that have never bloomed. Come on, you of the iris family, show me your colors!
By the way, while irises have been particularly stubborn, they aren’t the only flowering thing that has never flowered in my gardens. We have a dogwood tree that is going on six or seven years old, and that has grown to close to 12 feet tall, that has never bloomed.
Of course, I have other projects going for the gardens and yards. I harvested some Catalpa seeds from a neighborhood tree and am trying to get them to germinate—thought Matt notes these trees, from the redbud family, have notoriously tough seed coatings and don’t germinate without either boiling or scoring. Anyway, if my one sickly redbud doesn’t thrive and I can get a Catalpa to sprout, the little redbud may be replaced with a cousin that, in comparison, would grow to be a massive tree. I bet the source for the speeds was 80 feet tall.
I’m also hoping that one of the younger redbuds, which is about 4 feet tall, might start to bloom. We have a total of three redbuds, one that is close to adult height and blooms each spring and two young ones, one of which died to the ground and re-sprouted last spring, the other which seems healthier but is still pretty small.
Aw spring! On this snowy morning, we’re getting near February, and month with only 28 days because in Iowa no one could stand any more. But we’re only six weeks or so from the first signs of crocuses and eight weeks from when spring really starts to sproing.
I would say I “cant wait,” but that’s trite and whenever I hear someone say that I always wonder, beyond suicide, what the alternative is. I can wait. I’m hoping for some new flowers this spring.