Spring memories & Pasqueflowers


Sometimes a garden's greatest solace lies in the place it holds in our memory. At other times, the value of a garden resides not in our thoughts about the garden, but in the darker, more mysterious thoughts that it permits amid the reassurance offered by its presence in our lives. The garden one returns to, year after year, builds memories, not only of itself, but of the thoughts and events one brings to and takes from the garden.

(Quoted from J.B. Tankard & M.R. Van Valkenburgh, Gertrude Jekyll: A Vision of Garden and Wood Herbaceous Border, at 26.)

Photograph of Pulsatilla vulgaris ~ Pasqueflower ~ from my back garden, 19 May 2009.

Symphyandra hoffmannii ~ an uncommon plant

Symphyandra hoffmannii
has been one of my favourite plants ever since I first planted it in my garden in Ottawa. It is a prolific self-seeder, but I am okay with that. 2843353664_3393a4797a_oIn spring, I simply pull out the rosettes that are growing too close to one another. This is an easy task, since the plants have shallow roots. 

Before I moved back to Saskatchewan, I gathered some seeds and sowed them in my garden here. They are some of the first plants to appear in spring and always bring back memories of my Ottawa garden in spring. I can picture the two Magnolia trees that put on such a stunning show and I delight in remembering the Kerria japonica and their cheerful blooms.  Visions of my beautiful Rhodendron 'Orchid Lights' drift through my mind.  These spring beauties are particularly poignant memories because I cannot grow any them here.

Although Symphyandra is considered a biennial, I have yet to have a summer without their delicate and beautiful blooms.  One of the distinct advantages of these plants is that their nodding white bell-shaped flowers bloom in late summer and last for ages.  Another feature in their favour is that they will grow in virtually any soil in a sunny location or in a partially-shaded one.  They also remain remarkably free of any diseases or pests.

Last summer, I was pleased to see one errant plant thriving among the bricks of my back patio. It survived repeated crushings by my big brown dog who has always loved napping against a nearby rock.

As you can tell from this photograph, the blooms of the Symphyandra bear a close resemblance to those in the Campanula family. No doubt this is where they received their common name of ring (or ringed) bellflower. From what I've unearthed, they are native to Bosnia.

I have yet to understand why Symphyandra hoffmannii is not a better-known plant.

~ Doing things differently ~

 At this time every year, I'm restless to begin seed starting. I've done it for way more years than I can count on my fingers.Irisquilt1 My enthusiasm knows no bounds as I dream about the seeds transforming into healthy, beautiful blooms. Each spring finds me contentedly preparing my six or seven seed-starting trays. Miraculously, or so it always seems to me, little shoots soon appear under the grow lights. Thus begins my gardening season.

While the urge  to start seeds is at its strongest now that the snow's melting, I'm resisting it. All winter long, I've been tossing around ideas about what I want to do in the garden this year. Rather than having trays of seedlings that I madly dash around planting when the last frost date passes, my plan is to spend more time working on my soil and dividing perennials.  I am also going to start some summer bulbs in the hopes that they blooming earlier than they do if planted near May's end.  

I'll let you know if I can keep up my resolve and stick with my winter-concocted plan.

Spring’s arrival on the prairies ~

The first day of spring always makes me happy. Today it seems even more so. After a few days of below-freezing weather, I woke to a beautiful sight. Not only was the sun shining, but the trees were covered in hoarfrost. In late morning, Pinktulips2I sat out in the garden and watched the hoarfrost drift down from the trees. It was a beautiful sight. The sunshine felt wonderful.

Today is also a special day, since it is the birthday of  my friend in Barcelona, Estrella Esteve.  We met on Flickr ~ Estrella takes incredible photos. To view them, just click here. Estrella also writes a wonderful blog, which thankfully she translates into English so I can read it. 
These tulips are for you, Estrella ~ happy weekend to everyone!

~ First ant sighting of the year ~


Ants in my basement usually lead to irritation and a lot of grumbling on my part. Peachyant1It was surprising then, that while taking some pictures, I watched an ant casually saunter the length of a tulip bloom and was filled with excitement. The weather had dramatically improved from the day before and I had a sense that spring was finally arriving on the prairies.

I enjoyed the feeling for a short time before dispatching the ant to an early death. No doubt the ant will be sorely missed by other members of its colony, but I'm trying not to think of that.  Instead I'm on an ant search-and-destroy mission, while silently hoping that I don't find any other ones.

Experience tells me though, that one ant usually means lots of other ants. We shall see ~ 

A tulip for the taking ~

There's something wonderful about having tulips on the dining room table. I love looking at them ~ before I cart them away to be photographed.

For the past few days, the temperature has been slightly above freezing and the scent of spring was in the air. Sadly, a winter storm has moved in. Back to the cold we go again.   Tulip1

In full bloom

What a year it has been for Amaryllis. I haven't done anything differently this year, but maybe I just picked out better bulbs than I have in the past. Each of them had multiple stalks and lots of blooms.Ammauve2

At the moment, the Amaryllis 'Sydney' (pictured above) is in full bloom. I'm trying to get some good photographs of it. This will be the final stalk of the Amaryllis for the season.

While I am sad to see the Amaryllis season drawing to a close, it also means that spring will be arriving soon. (Okay, I'm being optimistic here ~ we haven't had a day above -Oc for weeks. The signs are there though ~ the sun is higher and the days are growing longer. I am holding off starting my seedlings for another few weeks.

Amaryllis12Back to the amaryllis ~ my  favourite  amaryllis this winter was the 'Lemon Star' (above). With three stalks loaded with blooms, it was a glorious vision. I loved photographing it ~ since the colours looked great with so many different backgrounds. I loved this green background and titled this photo, Lemon Lime Popsicle Time

I haven't blogged for awhile and am trying to figure out which picture size works best with a blog post. Should they be smaller? Your opinions welcome! And now I'll get back to visiting my favourite blogs ~ it's been way too long.