Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Looking For a Silver Lining

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' was planted in fall of 2008 and by the following spring it was a slender but striking tree. What a pop of red, with the promise of an elegant shape.
Three years later it had filled out and had more presence. The wine colored foliage was spectacular.
By 2013 it had formed a lovely tree shape, and had enough height to give some shade to the deck and patio. From inside the house I could see it framed perfectly in the window as I stood at the kitchen sink.
Last year it looked as beautiful as ever, but it was struggling. It had developed phytophthora, a root rot that had the potential to be fatal. And it was.
2014. Ailing, but still lovely.
Bartlett treated it all last year with a systemic root drench, but it did not work. This spring the tree is dead.

I have lost more trees and shrubs than I can count. You replant and go on. But losing this 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple is such a big disappointment. It was so striking, just the right accent at the corner of the deck, and it was becoming a shapely and shady tree.

I need to find something good in this loss. Is there a silver lining? Maybe.

The wobbly, rotting cedar deck is going to be replaced this year with a composite (Trex type) one, and we want to redesign it to make it lower, closer to the stone patio level, and eliminate most of the railings. Without the tree at the corner we can expand to that side and gain more space for what is currently a cramped, cut-off deck shape, only 9 feet wide and oddly angled.
The dead 'Bloodgood' maple standing on the left, the elevated and too-small cedar deck next to it.
Without the tree or boxwoods there, we can expand to the left side and have a proper deck.

The row of boxwoods can come out -- they did not survive winter very well, and although they lived, they look awful. With the tree gone, the boxwoods can go too, and the space can be opened up on that side for a larger deck.

Will that be the silver lining, the compensation for losing this spectacular tree? A bigger, new deck?

As of yesterday the tree is gone. My beautiful wine red Japanese maple is a stump. Boxwoods are gone too.

Now the deck looks even more cramped and oddly shaped (there was a reason for the chopped up shape, but that will be in a future post about rebuilding and redesigning the deck.)

Call the deck contractor. I want to make the best of this. I need to think of this as the silver lining to a very disappointing loss.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cold and Slow

One of the advantages of keeping this online journal since 2010 is that I can easily compare photos from each year and see how spring progresses. Despite a few days of warm(ish) weather in April, we've had mostly cold temperatures, so spring this year has been slow.

Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star', is pretty reliable and bloomed close to the time it usually does, in mid to late April. It's eye-catching starting around the 18th of April and to the 25th:

Then, on Saturday morning April 25, we flirted with 32 degrees, and had just a touch of frost. The magnolia's beautiful blossoms look a little limp. Not ratty and brown as they would be after a hard frost, but limp:

The Dawn viburnum on the opposite side of the house blooms at the same time as the magnolia. The jury is still out on the shape of this thing, although my aggressive pruning this winter seemed to help. No fragrance that I can detect. It's outside the dining room window so I can open the window and smell it, but nothing.

You can see the pink flowered branches arching over along the east side of the house, where the dwarf forsythia 'Golden Peep' blooms. The forsythia is about a week late. My pictures from earlier, warmer springs show it was in full yellow bloom by April 7. (I have plans for that empty spot next to the boxwood ball.)

Daffodils seem to come up on time in mid April, regardless of cold spring weather. I like how the daffodils on the hill in back spread out more, spilling all along the slope instead of in a tight circle as they were last spring. Each year I have added 150 bulbs, making the patch wider. (There is a lot of effort to get a "naturalized" look.)

And I planted a few bulbs on the berm to echo the ones in the distance. I like this effect. You can see the yellowroot in front of the daffodils on the berm is just getting ready to bloom. It has fuzzy reddish purple flowers that catch the light. It's usually in full bloom by April 15, but is not even ready this year as of late April. The cold spring has delayed this one.

The spicebushes (Lindera benzoin) on the berm are beginning to open their very delicate little hazy golden flowers. They are late this year. I have pictures from other years from late March and early April, showing the little blooms.

Another late one this year is the spirea 'Ogon'. In other years in has been absolutely covered in bouncy white flowers by the end of April, not these little tentative buds I am seeing now at the end of April. It will flower soon, and be gorgeous, but it is delayed.

Oh, the fretful waiting of a cold, slow spring. There are some delights -- the magnolias and daffodils -- but other pretty sights are holding off a little longer.

Friday, April 24, 2015


The folding Mayan chairs have gotten very dark and stained, and my list of tasks this spring includes cleaning and restaining them. The wood is cherry. It has held up well to the elements but has darkened in different areas, so even with cleaning and a good sanding, the wood may not stain evenly.

What if I painted them instead?

It didn't occur to me until I saw these similar chairs painted blue on a blog called Sarah's Rental Cottage. They look fresh and modern.

Wouldn't my chairs look great painted? Not blue -- but maybe dark red?

I headed off to the new Ace Hardware in town. It's a small store, locally owned by a franchisee. It's more expensive than Lowe's or Home Depot, but easy to navigate and more like the old hardware store of our memories.
A very quiet, helpful man got me the outdoor furniture cleaner I needed, steel wool, brushes, and the right kind of paint with primer. I waffled between a barn red and a brighter color, and finally picked the bright red.

When he custom mixed it I looked at the result and gulped. Too pinky . . . magenta, sort of. I know paint dries darker, but the tone wasn't what I wanted.

He offered to fix it by adding darker tint and the two of us worked on that can of paint like it was commissioned by Michelangelo for painting a ceiling or something. But in the end it was a no go. So he said let's start over -- I'll go mix up the barn red alternative.

I offered to pay for the rejected quart of custom mixed paint but he refused. He said they donate unsellable paint to art schools. After more than half an hour of working patiently with me, I finally had a quart of dark red paint that was just right, and everything else I needed.

Ace Hardware is simply aces in my book.

I came home, cleaned the chairs with the special cleaner and steel wool, used the hose to power rinse them, and left them in the spring sunshine to dry. It was too cold to paint (only in the 40s).

My nieces are both in art school. I should have bought the rejected can of paint outright and donated it myself to them.

I wonder what they could have created with a quart of magenta toned bright red outdoor latex gloss paint?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Waited Too Long

We had pouring down soaking rain and a thunderstorm passed through last night. Two inches of rain in all. With warming April weather, everything has greened up and is taking off. The grass is now deep green and thick.

Before the rain, on a nice dry day, I pruned a third of the stems of the redtwig dogwoods by the creekbed.

This is a new stand I created a couple years ago from rooted cuttings I took from the original redtwig dogwoods (Cornus sericea 'Isanti') that were planted by the front door in 2006. The cuttings transplanted easily and grew lustily.

The stems are bright red, and to keep them that color, you need to cut out older stems and let the new young growth pop up -- young branches have the reddest color, and older stems turn brown. You have to cut the branch all the way back to the ground; if you lop off stems halfway up you get bunchy growth where you cut, all at the top and that's not what you want.

I did a good job with these young redtwig dogwoods.

A third of the branches were sacrificed, and that was a lot of branchy growth. The stems were cut all the way down to the ground. It looks a little sparse now but new growth will leap up.

But I made a real mistake with the original stand by the house.

I thought you were supposed to wait until the plant needed renewal, and then start taking out a third of the older stems. So I decided to wait until the red color faded and then do the renewal pruning to bring up the new growth.

But the red never faded. So I never did any pruning. For 9 years.

Mistake. Mistake. I waited too long.

I noticed in 2014 that some older brown branches were finally starting to be visible tangled up with the red. So I thought . . .  okay, time for renewal. In early spring, 2015, let's go take out a third of the older, brown branches before the shrub leafs out.

What faced me in early April was daunting. Where to start in this congested mess? Apparently it was a big mistake waiting for 9 years to start renewal pruning.

Here's what you need to know about pruning redtwig dogwoods: it has to be done every year, right from the start, even if the color is still good, even though the red stems are still vigorous and there are no old brown branches yet.

Just start taking out a third of what's there. Each year. From the beginning. Bigger branches first.

I can't get at this mess now with my little pruning saw and loppers and at my age I am not going to try diving in there and wriggling around in the brush. I called a landscaper and next winter she is going to rejuvenate my neglected redtwig dogwoods. (It's too late now this year, as they are starting to leaf out.)

I let it go too long, thinking it didn't need to be done until the effects of diminished color were visible. Not so.

But I am happy with the proactive pruning I've done on the newer dogwoods by the creekbed.

I started early with those and will do it each year, and they won't be such a daunting project later on.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Perfect 24 Hours

Coffee at 7:30 a.m.

Put on jeans and an old shirt and go outside at 9 a.m.

Walk around. Look at things. Quite cool, it is still in the 50s in the morning.

No breeze. Sun.

Check the solar panels -- the net meter says we are producing abundant energy. Good.

Start some projects. Dirty work, edging and digging up things that need moving. Kneel, dig, stand up, tote, schlep, dig some more, wrestle big woody plants out of the ground, kneel, go look for the pruners, come back, then go look for the bigger loppers. Why does the wheelbarrow have a flat tire?

Back and forth. Tools in one place, bucket in another.

Lunch. It's in the 60s now, still sunny, no breeze yet at 1 p.m.

Crossword puzzle. I finish it with Jim's input. There are sports clues, so he has to help.

Afternoon, and the temperature is now in the 70s and there is the slightest breeze and it is lovely.

No more heavy lifting, now the day is given over to aimless activity. Cut some rose canes, prune the viburnums a little more, change the locations of some pots, sit. Think.

What if I put a cherry tree in that spot, or what if I planted another fothergilla over there?

Hose stuff off.

Pull some weeds by hand from moist but not soggy soil. They come out easily, roots and all.

Refill the hummingbird feeder. One quarter cup of white sugar dissolved in a cup of very hot water. It doesn't need to be boiled.


Pour a glass of wine and sit in the warm sunshine on the patio and watch the sinking sun light up the plants in the distance one by one. The air is still, the light is incredibly luminescent and the temperature is 72 degrees. There is just the lightest breeze and the humidity is low.


Tired. Very tired.

A gentle rain shower moves in from midnight til dawn, then the clouds completely clear away at sunrise.

Why can't every day be like this?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

And Now a Little History

I recently got to hear Andrea Wulf talk about the history of the transatlantic plant trade that took place from 1730 into the early 1800s -- the decades when England and America sent thousands of seeds and plants across the ocean in an incredible exchange of botanical riches.

Andrea Wulf is the author of several books, including The Brother Gardeners, the book she was invited to talk about to the Hartford Garden Club.

I read it a while ago, and loved learning about the fraternity of men who formed relationships with each other in different countries, pursuing their obsession with discovering and growing new plants.

And this was in a time when transporting plants meant keeping them alive for months at sea, boxes of seeds were eaten by ship rats, correspondence by letter was a drawn out process, and just gathering the plants and seeds to share meant perilous expeditions into unsettled forests.

She's a remarkable speaker, able to communicate how her subject fascinated her and how the letters and documents she researched came to life across the centuries.

She charmed us by admitting she is no practical gardener at all, and then proceeded to demonstrate she knew plants in detail and had mastered botany, all from immersing herself in the lives of plantsmen of 250 years ago.

There is nothing like hearing an assured speaker talk about a topic she knows well and loves.

Andrea Wulf lives in England (but was raised in Germany -- her German-British accent is unique). She states simply that any tour of any garden in the United Kingdom today is a tour of American plants.

Because of the trade between England and the American colonies, thousands of new plants were introduced to England and eagerly adopted. Interest in the novelty of these New World plant marvels caused an explosion of gardening and made England the gardening obsessed culture it is today.

Why did the British become more obsessed than any other country during these years? Several reasons, including Empire -- they had so many global sources to supply new plants. And climate -- imported plants, as long as they weren't from the tropics, all grew so well in England's benign climate.

But the brother gardeners made it happen: John Bartram, the American farmer who collected specimens and shipped them to Peter Collinson, an English merchant who sold them in increasingly huge orders. They had a decades long correspondence and friendship.

The oddball Swedish scientist Linnaeus, of course, who finally made sense out of the hopelessly confused names of all these botanical wonders flooding Europe. And Philip Miller, who wrote the first ever plant dictionary, which made practical garden knowledge accessible to amateurs as never before. There were others too, explorers and scientists. Her book brings them all to life.

America was populated by British settlers whose legacy, language and dominant culture have had profound effects on us. In turn, England was overwhelmingly planted in American trees and shrubs that have had a lasting effect on their entire physical landscape to this date.

Fascinating reading. Impressive talk.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Out, Out

This past weekend was glorious and sunny. And warm -- in the low 70s. Just lovely weather finally.

I spent these past days outside cleaning up and edging and puttering, my favorite thing of all to do in my garden.  Bring it on.

Jim patched the vole tunnels in the front lawn and seeded them with grass. The lawn is greening, especially in front where it is was over fertilized last season.

We brought up one hose and hooked it up -- as long as I drain it at night and shut it off at the faucet end (there will still be below freezing nights for a few more weeks), it should be fine. It is always so hard to do any spring clean up without water!

In this good weather I finally got all the cotoneaster plants out from under the fir tree by the front door.

Cotoneaster horizontilis
Cotoneaster is pronounced Koh Tone Ee Aster. It has no common name that I can find. That is unusual -- it's an awkward plant in name, and and awkward plant to grow.

(The genus name comes from cotone, which is an old Latin word for quince and the suffix 'aster' means resembling -- so it is a plant that resembles quince.)

It is widely used in foundation plantings. I had one on each side of the front door at my old house in West Hartford. The stiff branches caught debris and looked drab in winter, and I paid them no attention.

They were glossy green in summer, had red berries, and stayed low.

But here at this house, the cotoneaster plants near the front door have driven me crazy for years.  The builder put several in, at the foot of a fir tree that was always destined to grow way too large for the spot and overtake the cotoneasters.
In 2006 the bare woody branches of several cotoneaster plants surround a tubby new fir tree.
It looks like there is plenty of room but there isn't.

The plant has a few things to recommend it -- not in winter when the branches are bare. But in summer it is a shiny green, it stays low, and there are berries. In fall it has deeply colored foliage. That's nice, especially in front of the dark green mass of the fir tree.

Red berries and maroon foliage in 2012 were stunning under the now big fat fir tree.

But the problem with the cotoneasters planted around my fir tree were twofold: first, the fir tree got too big. Obviously that was going to happen.

But secondly, the structure of the cotoneasters is a problem. The branches arch over every which way, leaving open areas underneath, and that allowed all manner of grasses and weeds to grow under the low canopy of the tangled stems.

I spent every summer trying to weed the cotoneasters and I never could pull anything up from under those congested branches.

When I decided to eliminate the cotoneasters and began digging them out, I was amazed at the lush hayfields of grass and robust tap rooted weeds that were entrenched under each woody shrub.

Besides turf grass, I found juniper seedlings, young thistles, a solid carpet of popweed (ugh), and more. (There's an article on popweed here.)

Out, out.

Of course digging up all the shrubs was a nightmare. They are spreaders -- where an arching branch reaches over and touches soil, it roots, so there were a dozen tenaciously rooted shrubs where the builder had originally planted four. They get big woody stems and they did not want to come out. Jim helped me dig out the rootballs of several, but in the end I just cut back the branches of the rest of them, and covered the decapitated remains with mulch.

Now, what to do with the open space around and under the big fir tree?

I hate looking at brown mulch. I don't want to plant a shrub or groundcover in there and then have to take it out in a few years as the fir gets even bigger.

The purple iris reticulata blooms will go by, then there are red 'Lucifer' crocosmias that bloom in summer around the light post but I never got a real stand of them going, so there are only a few.

Maybe just some annuals in the mulch? A carpet of white alyssum? At least until I figure out what to do with this oddly shaped empty patch of mulch I created.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Winter Bloomers

A chilly spring so far. This past week has been rainy, drizzly and in the 40s. The weekend promises sun and a little more warmth.

I want to talk about my winter bloomers -- no, not my knickers. Winter bloomers are plants that save us from the despair of a long cold season by flowering at the end of winter and some even smell fragrant.

Plants that bloom in the cold have a real appeal for me. At the end of a long, wet New England winter, fragrance and color are so welcome.

But I haven't been very impressed with the ones I've tried to grow.

Here is my experience with winter bloomers that open in February or March, which after a winter like the past one we had, means April, maybe early May. (Despite spring's arrival on the calendar at the end of March, April here is mostly a winter-feeling month.)

Lonicera fragrantissima - winter honeysuckle.
Here is my experience with it.
MoBot tells me mine will look big and vase shaped
like this one at some point
I planted it four years ago but have nothing to show yet.

Last year it was eaten to the ground, and regrew from the roots, so I had a small arching shrub with green leaves, but never got any flowers.

In its first year I cut a few branches to force indoors, and at least I got a few white, fragrant blooms to open and I got to smell the perfumy sweet scent.

I brought branches in again this March, but only had some green leaves open indoors, no flowers. There are no blooms on the shrub at all this year.

Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' - Dawn viburnum
This is how mine has performed.
'Dawn' blooms, but I can't detect fragrance
I have never actually smelled the fragrant pink blooms of this tall, upright viburnum. I've had flowers, but no detectable scent yet.

I don't even know what 'Dawn' is supposed to smell like.

This is also a plant that I put in four years ago.

Its form is wildly out of control, but I have hopes that it will mature into an upright shrub, and I am trying to help it along with judicious pruning, which involves randomly cutting off sideways branches.

After four years it is a big, rangy, arching, splayed-out shrub, and not the vase shaped multi-stemmed plant I expected.

It is planted by the dining room window so that I can open the window on an April day and gather its scent.

Alas, no scent, few blooms, and even when I brought branches in to force in March, I got nothing -- a few browned buds tried to open but there was no scent, and the blooms dropped off.

Hamamelis vernalis, Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' - Witch hazel
My experiences with witch hazels are here and here.
Indoors I do catch a whiff of scent

If anyone has read this journal in the past, they will know I have complained for years about witch hazels. Their brown leaves hang on all winter, the flowers are too teeny to see and there has been no fragrance wafting on the cold air.

But then. . . .

I cut some of the branches of 'Diane' and brought them inside in late March, and a very deep, sweet perfume was occasionally detected if I stuck my nose into the middle of them. Delightful, but fleeting.

Then, the first sunny day in April, while I was outside in the meadow, I got a whiff of sweet perfume and it came from the vernal witch hazel there. Again, it was just a whiff, but such a lovely, full fragrance. For a moment anyway.

The flowers of both 'Diane' and the spring witch hazel are so small I can't see them even up close, and "Diane' in particular is still fully clothed in dry brown foliage that hides every bud, but I am encouraged to have smelled, even briefly, the rich scent in April.

Corylopsis glabrescens 'March Jewel' - Dwarf Winterhazel
My tiny one can be seen here.
MoBot shows a full blooming plant in late winter
I only planted it three years ago, and it was tiny when I got it. I moved it once, setting it back. There isn't much of a plant there yet.

Unlike the usual large spreading corylopsis shrubs, this variety is a very low dwarf winterhazel.

It can look like a forsythia, but paler and more refined. Mine, however, has only offered one or two blooms so far and those were oddities one October.

It isn't supposed to have any fragrance, but that's ok. It actually has "March" in its name, but there are no March jewels to be seen and it's April, so like my other winter blooming shrubs, this one promises to be a spring flowering plant. I think it will need a few more years to reach maturity and bulk up a bit.

Cornus mas - Corneliancherry dogwood
How mine have grown can be seen here.
I've had better experiences with Cornus mas than with other winter bloomers. Corneliancherry dogwood doesn't have any fragrance, though.

It has yellow blooms that make this small tree also look like a forsythia, but it is a much more shapely and tree-like size.

I have two -- one little seedling tree was decapitated in 2010 but is now taller than I am. It regrew amazingly fast.

The other was a large 15 gallon container sapling that I planted four years ago and it is about the same size as the little one is now. Proof that paying for larger trees is not worth it; seedling or bare root stems are just as large after four or five years as big expensive trees.

Both are still small, though. Cornus mas is considered a winter bloomer because it flowers in March, but mine don't open that early. They flowered last year in mid April, making them more like the redbuds and magnolias of early spring.

I'm still waiting to be wowed by winter blooming shrubs and trees -- it hasn't happened in my garden yet.

If I cut branches to bring inside and force in March, I can enjoy some early blooms to brighten the end of winter. I can even get a whiff of witch hazel perfume.

But it also means I have to listen to Jim complain about looking at piles of brush in the living room.

He's right.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Oak Sapling

I vacuumed the porch and took the desiccated overwintering pots outside. The porch looks inviting now. It's still too chilly to sit out there, but I did anyway. I'm anxious for spring.

I poured a glass of wine, sat in my rocker and surveyed the yard from inside the porch.

It was bare and brown outside, but sunny. The storm door is still on, and the windows are closed tight, so sitting on the porch on a windy April afternoon was comfortable enough. For a while anyway.

As I looked around at the empty gardens and the sticks of naked trees on the hill, I felt such a sense of familiarity. I know every inch of my gardens in detail and every tree in my emerging forest intimately. I have scrabbled in the dirt, kneeled in the deer poop, and tangled with every vine in the woods -- it's all so known to me, even in its dormant state.

I know what it will look like in a few weeks as everything leafs out, I know what I need to tend, I am aware of each plant as its own individual with its own characteristics. I know who came through the winter fine and who needs some help.

A comforting sense of place settled over me. My garden.

Then I looked over to the left and saw a skinny young oak tree, with rusty brown leaves standing out from the brush on the hill. Oak trees, known for their hard, dense wood, are surprisingly whippy when young. They are bendy.

This tree was bobbing and weaving in the wind and, I swear, trying to get my attention.

The day before I had risked limb and life to untangle this sapling from Oriental bittersweet that was strangling it, and from multiflora rose canes that engulfed it. In the process a thorn caught my ear and held me fast -- really, have you ever been held hostage by a rosebush snagging your earlobe? I can't even describe it. There was blood. And a ruined pair of garden gloves, used to sop up the carnage.

But I chopped and hacked and freed the oak sapling from its tormenters and maneuvered the rose thorn out of my ear, with some histrionics.

And then there was the little oak tree, a day later, calling to me, moving and fluttering so I would notice. Thank you. Thank you.

It's not the first time I have had a sense that trees respond to, maybe even communicate with, people. They do.

I have unpotted a tuliptree sapling from its too-small container, untangled congested roots to plant it, and heard it sigh with relief.

I have limbed up the lower branches of a viburnum and it looked so pleased to see its knees, it danced and swayed.

I know, I know. Stop. This is silly.

No it's not.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Getting To Work

April arrived with some sunshine, chilly but not uncomfortable breezes, and temperatures in the 40s and 50s. I think we even reached the low 60s briefly.

I got to work:

I took off all the mesh tubes that protect the tree trunks from antler rub in the fall and winter. It's nice not to have to look at those green plastic things now. There are about 45 trees that I put protection around -- the ones I think are most vulnerable.

I pruned back the roses in the cul de sac. The lawnmower guys who "maintain" the cul de sac and common areas won't do it. The roses are in bad shape, lots of dead wood and no form at all. I pruned them hard.

I took off a lot of the climbing hydrangea by the garage. Now that it has reached the pergola, I want to limb up the lower stems, but it will take several seasons I think. I pruned quite a bit, taking off side branches and the stems that arch out in the wrong direction. I sacrificed a lot of flower buds.

I took off the two tall spouts in the middle of the Cornus mas by the driveway, and then did a half-ass job staking it. The tree needs to be pulled upright. The soggy soil there has allowed it to tilt over too much. My staking is not really effective.

I cut back some of the dried perennial stalks. More to do -- that chore will take several more days. The transplanted Knock Out roses at the back of the driveway garden got pruned hard, and the pink Knock Out rose by the front door got a good chop.

I sprayed the kinnikinnik that appears to have powdery mildew with Neem oil. No effect.

I cut multiflora rose stems and Oriental bittersweet vines on the back hill and painted the cut stems with vine killer. It always seems like I must have gotten most of them, but I have probably stunted 10 percent or less of these aggressive vines.

I did some winter pruning, which meant walking around with pruners and randomly cutting branches off whatever I walked by.  The winterberry hollies got limbed up and shaped, although they could surely use much more trimming. I want a more open, slender look for these rangy shrubs.

I cut back the smokebush, but not coppiced all the way. This year I want to experiment to see if I get a fuller, rounder shrub by only cutting the long stems back by half, still leaving a large structure of multiple branches. Sticky sap got all over my hands and pruners.

I put up the hummingbird feeder for the early male scouts. Migrating ruby throated hummingbirds have been spotted in Virginia, so they will be up here soon.

So much clean up still needs to be done, but I got to work and got a good start.
First week of April:
Hummingbird feeder is up, purple irises are appearing with the snowdrops, 
the walk to the back is snow free, and the glacier at the top of the driveway is retreating.
I've been lopping and chopping, including the climbing hydrangea by the garage.
The Easter bunny came to check out the forced forsythia blooms in the dining room!

Everything is soggy, not to be walked on without damaging turf or emerging plants,
but of course I've been tromping over everything for several days now.