No matter the season, there is always something of interest (many, many things of interest) going on in Barry’s garden and even though I know not to show up without a proper camera, I can’t deny that sometimes (most times) I am lazy and the camera stays at home. Of course, I always regret it later as I did when I visited his place on Friday to see what was new.
And what was new was everything. It was the day of the epic thaw. One day our city gardens are buried in snow, the likes of which we haven’t seen in ages, and the next the sun is shinning, the birds are getting busy, and some guy is traipsing down the street in a T-shirt and flip-flops like it’s August, except that it isn’t August it’s January, and it may be unseasonably warm, but it’s nowhere near Spring Break in Cancun 2013 (Spring Break! Woooo!). That dude is going to regret it next week when he’s stuck in the bathroom suffering the symptoms of the NoroVirus, I tell you what.
I love these first big thaws. First of all, they are a desperately needed reminder that the winter isn’t forever. Spring will come again. They also reveal that life has not ceased underneath the snow. Plants are alive. Some of them are green and fresh. Take this lush and very alive hellebore (above) in Barry’s garden. Before meeting Barry, I had never paid hellebores much mind. Now I can appreciate their merits, the main one being that they stay green year-round!
Some of them, like this Helleborus niger ‘Praecox’ bloom in December and January when most plants are months away from breaking dormancy, let alone making flowers. Let me repeat: I took this photo just a few days ago. In January. In Toronto. What a plant!
Perhaps it is a small observation, but one worth noting. This morning while working in the kitchen, I witnessed some of the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) seedpods that I had set aside to fully dry bursting open and spilling their contents all around and onto the floor. The sound that they made as the seeds hit my enamel top kitchen table was audible and I wondered for a moment if it was raining.
Later in the day I went back into the kitchen for my afternoon coffee break and discovered more seedpods had burst and spilled their micro-sized contents all around.
While I was unsure about this particular poppy’s chemical constitution (I am always careful to wash my hands thoroughly after collecting the pods), the sight of them spilling onto the floor did make me pause and consider the myriad of garden collected seeds and seedpods that I have sitting in bowls, trays, and shallow dishes around the house at this time of year. I am used to living with an adult human and a cat who couldn’t be bothered with my strange human messes. But since last January we have welcomed a scruffy dog into our life, and like most dogs she is a living Hoover, vacuuming up anything that seems even remotely edible from any surface within reach. Everything is a potential snack until it has been tested and either rejected or approved. This made me think about those of you with young children who collect and save seeds from your garden. I don’t know how you do it. The task is rife with so much potential for little seeds ending up in little mouths.
I consulted a number of books on my shelves in search of an answer as to California poppy’s toxicity, and found it in Marjorie Harris’ “Botanica“:
When I think back on the garden over this last week, the poppies are still dominating in a big way, although I can see that they are waning. Most of them are on their second or third bloom and then that will be it. The David Austin rose (that I am stubbornly describing as orange or peaches and cream) has surprised us with a wave of buds and blooms. I didn’t see that coming as the plant is new. I did not expect that sort of performance in its first season. As the season goes so far I am happy with how well I’ve managed to time it so that there is always something coming in as something is going out. I have to admit that my success so far may come down more to luck and the sheer volume of plant matter I have planted and less to impeccable planning. HA!
This soft and creamy version of the typically orange California native poppies are just starting to bloom in my Dry Garden Bed. Despite my love of orange I went with the cream flowers because there are too many other colours in that bed and it would have been chaos. I also love the unusual.
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Happy composting! And happy weekend everyone!
I leave you with a few recent scenes from my garden.
Clematis ‘Empress.’ I mis-identified it as ‘Crystal Fountain’ a few weeks back.
Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale).