Ideal conditions

Gail playing Musical PlantsFor the next few weeks Gail and I will plant, divide and move perennials in any kind of weather short of a monsoon-style downpour but we both had to agree that, even though we are Spring-sun junkies like most people, yesterday’s weather was perfect.  Overcast, spitting rain here and there, somewhere in the 50’s or low 60’s – the plants hardly noticed that they were being messed with and we warmed up as we worked. And the weather for the rest of the week looks ideal for a stress-free settling in. Camperdown elm (Ulmus 'Camperdownii') - emerging leaves are like flower petalsWith rain and cloud-cover, plants can concentrate on repairing roots rather than urgently putting on green growth and photosynthesizing (and wilting from the exertion). It’s perfect weather for garden gazing and photography too – gray skies make colors pop. As usual, hover over for captions and click on for larger view.

Weeping beech (Fagus pendula) flowering and leafing outWe picked up where we left off last October when we rearranged the furniture in the North Garden, and took out a few more Phlox paniculata ‘David’ and added in our favorite (OK, my favorite) Phlox paniculata ‘Natural Feelings’. We replaced the standard pink Japanese anemone with white, early flowering Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’. Norway spruce (Picea abies) female flowersWe tucked in a few sweet flag (Acorus calamus ‘Variegatus’) for some bright spears to break up the monotony of a predominantly billowy garden. And we plucked out a few of the front row catmints (Calamintha nepeta) and replaced them with a 12″ speedwell (Veronica ‘Twilight’) that we have high hopes for.  And everything we took out (aside from the potentially mildewy phlox) will be replanted in another garden. Gail calls it “Musical Plants” and we do a different version of that cake walk every year. There’s nothing like moving boring old perennials to another garden to rejuvenate our interest in them. Do you do that too? (- Do you ever move them to a friend’s garden and then want them back again?)

My current favorite combo - Tulipa 'Artist' and Phlox divaricataWhen I decided on the title for this post it occurred to me to mention conditioning flowers for arranging. Our volunteer flower arrangers are starting work this week and tomorrow Gail or I will cut tulips for Terri who is leading the pack. (Once or twice over the course of the season, each volunteer arranger will make two arrangements for the house with flowers and foliage we cut from the grounds.) Tulips are pretty easy as cut flowers go: Cut them before they’ve opened and place in plenty of water with a leaf or two still attached. They’ll keep growing in the vase and according to Garden to Vase: Growing and Using Your Own Cut Flowers by Linda Beutler, they prefer sugary water to bleachy and should last 10 days. My favorite trick for keeping the stems straight is to drop a penny in the vase – but sometimes a graceful flop is a lovely development. Do you cut your tulips or leave them in the garden?