Friday, May 04, 2007

Sleepy Bloodroots

Friday, May 4, 2007

8:12 PM and although darkness is coming quickly now, I am pleased to be able to see the lower road from my office window. Nothing is moving outside and save for an occasional robin grabbing an after-dinner insect, the stillness is stop-frame firm. I like this time of year as the mornings come early and the evenings keep stretching what I can accomplish in a day.

After work today I opened a couple boxes of daylilies which arrived yesterday from Walters Gardens in Michigan. This is a wonderful nursery with one of the biggest selections of perennials around. They called on Monday and said the shipment would arrive by Fed Ex today. Gail planned accordingly but yesterday when Diana was here by herself, Mr. Fed Ex backed down the hill and unloaded 40 yards short of the driveway. There were 28 selections of daylilies, 8 selections of hostas and one order of an astilbe Gail likes named Veronica Klose. Diana helped unload the pallet and then moved all the boxes by cart to the driveway. It sure is nice to have people who know how to do a great job and Diana is one of those!

The first daylily I started planting was Shy Maiden, a special pink that customers will admire. We hadn't ordered daylilies from Walters before so I didn't know what to expect. Plants come packed in 25's and these were big roots and size equivalent to a couple-three fans. They were uniformly processed and packed in wood shavings inside a plastic bag. The box and the bag were both labeled. The plastic labels are most always packed separately and these were good labels with the plant variety at the top of the label. Last week we received an order with labels made for sticking into a preformed slot in a square pot like you see in big box stores or giant nurseries where stock is bought in already planted. The names are on the bottom which means that with our one gallon pots the name is buried and invisible. These are much better.

I finished planting Shy Maiden and then asked Gail if she'd like to go to the new property. I didn't tell her I had a special "find" that I wanted her to see. She agreed since she had to go to the store anyway and away we went.

All along the Winooski River there is new life sprouting. It happens this way every year and would probably be more advanced this year if it wasn't so dry right now. We parked the truck and climbed over the end of the stone pile and then walked along the river. The skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidas, was up about 6" tall. I like to photograph the leaves because they have such contrast with their ribs and veins and smooth surfaces. The light shines through at times and creates a neat picture. I have read that black bears love to feast on this green because it's the first abundant vegetable they can purge themselves with after winter hibernation. In my life of looking at skunk cabbage I've always looked for places where bears might have gobbled mouthfuls of leaves but truthfully I have never seen a missing leaf. The odor wouldn't bother a bear but just crunching a leaf brings on a perfume I wouldn't care to wear.

Just past the first set of skunk cabbage, the treasure I wanted Gail to see started. Tiny bloodroots were everywhere, tiny sleepy bloodroots. I had forgotten how late it was getting and the flowers were already closed on most of the plants. Sunlight struck an occaisional patch and they were still wide open for Gail to see. It was quite a treat. If we don't receive some rain soon they will not hold as long as I'd like. I could see bumble bees pushing their way between the petals to get to the yellow pollen and this made me think that bloodroot, February daphne, forsythia, and the pulmonarias represent the slim pickins bees and insects have right now. That will change in a couple days but for today, that's it.

Gail and I walked a bit but we had to go. We wanted to stay and look and dream about our new gardens but our current responsibility is getting everything planted and ready for mid May customers. If you were with us this afternoon, you would have enjoyed the walk too. Maybe some other time!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where darkness is thick and the music of Paul Simon and Roomful of Blues disrupts Gail's repeated attempts to ask me a flower question.

Gardening wishes for a nice weekend,

George Africa

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