Archive for April, 2008

Missed Photos

Since I’m a point-and-click sort of amateur photographer, I get picky about the light outside before I take a picture.  This bit me in the butt this past week: I saw the “Autumn Brilliance” serviceberry in full bloom near sunset one day, and a day later half the petals had already fallen and it looked pretty ratty.  (The good news, of course, is that this presumably means that there’ll be lots of berries for the birds in June.)  And then sometimes I just get lazy: lilies-of-the-valley poking up through freshly fallen magnolia petals are picturesque, the same thing a day later with wilting, browning petals is just sorta gross.  Time is of the essence in spring, and I seem to have forgotten about that over the interminable wintertime.

I’ll pick myself back up and get some photos up soon: the celandine poppies are huge and covered in yellow flowers, trilliums are about to bloom, and I might even get a shootingstar blossom or two this year.

Clouds of Flowers

Magnolia through the skylight (by RPOP)

The magnolias are in full bloom in Oak Park. Last year, we didn’t get any flowers at all due to a late freeze, so seeing them this year is a relief.

Every day brings a little more garden work. Tonight, I trimmed back one of the thyme patches that was threatening to take over the sunniest bed and pulled out a foundation boxwood shrub that was turning yellow. I don’t particularly like boxwood (boring and smells like cat pee), so I’m not crying over that loss. I need to do another go-round of digging out daylilies that are growing in the herb garden and the path around the pond. The celandine poppies have started to bloom, as have the Labrador violets. Plants are up in the rain garden, but no flowers there yet.

Pond cleanup, and lots of growing

Hyacinth (by RPOP)

We did our annual spring pond cleanout today, which involved a lot of muck and algae and water. Now the pond gets daily doses of enzymes and bacteria for the next two weeks.

Since this process is not particularly photogenic, I’ll hold off on pond pics and get right to all the blooms that have come out in the 5 days since Bloom Day. The hyacinth are out, sending their fragrance all over the garden.

Forsythia (by RPOP)

The forsythia is completely in bloom now – there were only a handful of blossoms on Friday.

Grape hyacinth (by RPOPtream)

I didn’t see any buds on the grape hyacinth last Tuesday, but they’re blooming up a storm now.

Tete a Tete daffodils in the herb garden (by RPOPtream)

The little Tete a Tete daffodils have joined the Rijnveld’s Early Sensation. That’s some newly emerging chives and oregano to show you how small the daffodils are. Please ignore the not-yet-pulled goutweed…

Wild ginger emerging (by RPOPtream)

The wild ginger (Asarum canadense) just started emerging from the mulch today.

Ostrich fern fiddleheads (by RPOPtream)

The ostrich ferns are sending up fiddleheads, but the other ferns have not yet emerged.

Project Budburst, New Bird, & An Earthquake

I got to enter my first observation at Project Budburst today: the forsythia got its first blossoms overnight. And yesterday I saw what I believe is a hermit thrush for the first time. I didn’t hear it singing; it visited the pond and I identified it by its reddish tail (which it flicked quite a bit, helping the ID) and white eyering. It appears to be a migrant, but I’m going to keep an eye and ear out for it this summer.

Unfortunately, I slept through our earthquake this morning. The last time I was in a magnitude 5+ earthquake, it woke me up, so either I sleep more soundly than I did 20 years ago, or the geological properties of California make earthquakes more noticable than they are in Illinois (with all of our lovely glacial soil).

70s, Finally

Marsh marigold
We finally got up to room temperature in Chicago today – it’s been the 4th longest time ever between 70 F readings. The marsh marigold – generally one of the earliest bloomers in the garden – had its first blossom.

First lilypad of '08
The first lilypad of the year also emerged. The fish are basking in the sun and fighting a losing battle against the (hopefully) delicious string algae. It’s definitely time for a cleanout!

Bloom Day – April 2008

Front-yard scilla (by RPOPtream)

Last year at this time, I thought my first Bloom Day post of 2008 would be in March. Little did I know that our long winter meant that even my April offering would be paltry. Above are some of the scilla and chionodoxa in the front yard. The white crocuses that came up earlier have disappeared.

What’s blooming? Along with the scilla are the Rijnveld’s Early Sensation daffodils (which bloomed last year in late March)….

First daffodils of the year (by RPOPtream)

…and some lovely volunteer purple crocus…

Volunteer crocuses (by RPOPtream)

…and that’s about it! But there are signs of flowers to come:

Hyacinth bud (by RPOPtream)


Celandine poppy emerging through the mulch (by RPOPtream)

the irrepressible celandine poppies,

Budding amelanchier (by RPOPtream)

and the amelanchier, not to mention the forsythia and magnolia. Most of these will bloom and fade before the next Bloom Day (barring a cold spell that I sincerely hope doesn’t happen), so stay tuned!

Planting begins!

This past weekend, I planted my first seeds of the year: Grandma Einck’s dill and Five Color Silverbeet swiss chard from Seed Savers. We’ve gotten a fair amount of rain since then, so I hope they germinate. If not, I only planted about half the seed I have (and then there’s always buying plants if my thumb remains black).

The string algae has started becoming noticeable in the pond, so cleanout time is on the horizon. Not this weekend, though: temps in the 40s and snow are not a good accompaniment to wading in water.