In contrast to my relaxed, cottagey, only the strong survive gardening style my record keeping style is copious, tedious, highly organized and never ending. I tend to keep detailed records of everything, not just what I have planted or what has bloomed when but of items purchased, warranties starting and ending, bills paid, gifts given, clothes worn where, etc., etc., etc. All these records, of course, are kept in subject specific and color coded notebooks in my studio. I have Daytimer calendars back to the late 1970’s so just in case I need to know where I was on December 2, 1991 or September 18, 2002 I can access that information at a moment’s notice. You know how the prosecutor on TV crime dramas always asks the witness where he was on .a certain date and time? I am amazed they can answer because without my calendar I can’t tell you where I was yesterday. I think you get the picture. Those of you reading my posts who actually know me absolutely get the picture.
One of my record keeping efforts that actually brings me some joy and reflection every spring is the list I keep of the first blooms to appear among a variety of groups of plants. I note the dates and the general growing conditions and take a few photos. Here are a few of my firsts for 2016. I will note we did have a wetter than normal winter and have had some earlier than is typical warm weather. Both of these have contributed to things blooming a bit earlier and a bit more robustly than I have recorded in the last few years.
Floribunda Rose ‘Singing the Blues’ is consistently an early bloomer in my garden. I have 3 bushes and two of them sit in a narrow strip of ground bordered by house on one side and driveway on the other, receiving lots of reflected heat. It is a bit more lavender and a bit less pink in natural light than it is in the photo. This rose is fabulously fragrant and produces many large clusters of flowers continuously until early winter. This rose is very disease resistant and has stunning dark green sturdy foliage. It is an A+ in my book!
Dianthus ‘Firewitch’ sports masses of face up neon pink blooms over a neat mound of blue grey foliage. This a a new take on the very old fashioned group of flowers called Cheddar Pinks—a staple of every cottage garden. ‘Fire- witch’ is a perfect edging plant, remaining neatly in its boundaries. Like all perennial dianthus, a light shearing of the faded blooms will produce a new flush of flowers. It blooms off and on all summer for me and is the plant to which I credit my obsession with all things dianthus.
I so hate to show you a clematis whose variety I cannot definitively name—it was marked as ‘Vyvyan Pennell’ but that cultivar has double flowers so it could not be correct. Its fully 7″ across flowers are gorgeous by any name! It has been in this pot for about 6 years and will fully cover the 36″ supports by early summer. Even though clematis are full sun plants I give this one a bit of patio protection in our hottest months to reduce the chance of it drying out if we are away for several days.
The bearded iris first bloomers were a trifecta this year! I have over 60 iris varieties and they range from very early bloomers to very late bloomers. Left to right the 2016 firsts are:
‘Laura Buelow’ ‘Night Ruler’ ‘Over Alaska’
A special “first” award goes to the hosta pictured below. My love affair with hostas has spanned many years and two gardens where my attempts to grow them have been thwarted by one critter or another. I grow several varieties now but they are most successful for me protected in pots.
I am calling this one the ‘FIRST HOSTA (NOT IN A POT) TO HAVE THIS MANY LEAVES BEFORE IT IS EATEN TO THE GROUND BY SNAILS’…how’s that for a unique cultivar?