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Chiondoxa (Glory of the Snow)
Garden Journal 04/04/04

I was out in my garden this morning, and it's currently a big wet mess. Not only has it rained everyday for the past week, but we had a fence installed in the backyard on Friday and there's quite a bit of mud where we at least had sparse and weedy grass before. Right now it looks more like a corral than a backyard, but I'll get used to it, especially after the fence ages a bit and I can plant around it a little.

Of course the fence has created more projects. Jeff and I have to improve the grading on one side of the house and buy a few tons of pea gravel to cover up all the mud. There are lots of new places that I could plant, but I don't really feel like the struggle to amend the rooty clay soil in the back, which is shady and ivy-covered. I've tried to establish a bed or two, but the plants have mostly languished except hostas. So I'll put in some more hostas — just cheap ones, no need for fancy hybrids. I have some alleged Sum and Substances (Jackson & Perkins, 2 boxed bareroots for $6.95 at Frank's) potted upstairs to get a head start, but I'm not sure they're really Sum and Substance. Three of the four divisions are pretty good-sized, but the leaves are medium green, not chartreuse, without any ruching — they seem just like plain-leafed hostas, and I already have some of those.

My other indoor plants are growing, if not thriving, alongside those hostas in the "greenhouse" — our not-well-heated front bedroom. My bougainvillea 'Raspberry Ice' loved the conditions all winter — they have retained all their leaves, and I even have a few flower buds and bracts forming. I have some new potted scented geraniums from Goodwin Creek Gardens — 'Charity,' 'Charmay Snow Flurry', 'Pungent Peppermint', and 'Large-flowered Crispum'. They haven't exactly taken off, but they've grown. Also upstairs is a rose seedling I found last week and am coddling — it will probably just be multiflora or eglanteria, but I'm excited anyway in case it's a seedling of 'Lilac Rose' — I found it at her feet. Odds are that any plant that has come uninvited to my garden is a noxious invasive weed, but if I weren't optimistic, I wouldn't garden at all. I also have some vinca seedlings I've started for the window boxes — let's hope they manage to make it 'til last frost. I have such a poor track record starting from seed, but again, that optimism (as it pertains to plants at least) keeps me trying every year.

I think most of my outdoor plants made it through the winter. I believe my Brunnera macrophylla 'variegata', hellebores, and one of two Tricyrtis hirta 'Gilt Edge' died, but everything else looks promising. My hardy potted plants are all outside enjoying the rain (or not). Last week I evicted a pink hydrangea from one large pot that it had shared with Clematis 'henryi' and I installed Rosa 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' and a five-foot obelisk. I'll put the pink hydrangea somewhere in the back corral or maybe in an extension of the front side bed. Yesterday I got my Wayside roses that I ordered on sale in a weak moment — the English roses Redoute and The Dark Lady and Morden Centennial. Unfortunately, I can't plant any of them today. The Dark Lady was supposed to go in the front side bed, but the soil is not ready yet. Hopefully next weekend will be dry enough so I can work it. The other two roses are going in planters, but since it's supposed to freeze tonight and maybe snow tomorrow, it's really too early to plant them. Snow in April — sigh.