GBFD: March 2015

Christina at My Hesperides Garden hosts Garden Bloggers Foliage Day each month. I missed it yesterday, but better late than never:

daff buds

My snowdrops and crocus finished their show a week or two ago, but the daffodils will take their place very soon. We bought our house at the end of March, many years ago, and I remember the day we closed on the house we drove by, and the front garden was full of waving yellow blossoms.

nettles and comfrey

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and comfrey (Symphytum officinale) grow in a half-barrel in my garden, providing an enduring source of fertilizer.

The fertilizer barrel woke up last week as well. For two years now, I’ve grown stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and comfrey (Symphytum officinale) in a half whiskey barrel to produce homegrown liquid fertilizer. Concocting this homebrew is not for the weak of stomach: It reeks. But the nettles provide a terrific source of nitrogen, and the comfrey provides nitrogen, potassium, calcium and phosphorus, which helps promote root growth and blooming/fruiting. My garden plants love it, and the tea feeds the soil.

Red stems and budding green leaves of Salix 'Hakura-Nishiki.'

Red stems and budding green leaves of Salix ‘Hakura-Nishiki.’

And my willows are leafing out. I’m new to growing willows but love the fact that I can whack them back in early spring and they’ll produce lots of lush growth each year. I’m not whacking them this year; I only planted them last fall, so I plan to give them a season to get settled in. I have, however, cut a few twigs to make willow water, which promotes rooting in cuttings. I’ll talk about that in a separate post.

I hope you northern-hemisphere types are enjoying spring wherever you are.


Pura vida

I just returned this week from a week in Costs Rica. It is the dry season there, so not much is blooming, although of course things are evergreen. But the best thing I learned while I was there is their philosophy pura vida, which means “pure life.” we all have to work, pay bills, deal with annoying and tiring things in life. But they look for the positive in everything, and try not to get bogged down in anything.

This is not new information, of course. But perhaps I am feeling the way I did as a teenager, when I wouldn’t listen to what my parents said, but if my friends told me the same thing, I would take their advice as gospel. There is a huge industry in the US devoted to self-help and the marketing thereof, but everyone is encouraged to find their own path. A thousand people have written books, blogs, or podcasts devoted to telling us how to slow down, to live in the moment. A sizeable industry exists to help us de-stress. But all these people hope to profit off sharing their wisdom. When a country full of people adopts the same life philosophy, it seems rather more persuasive. Especially when their lives are, on the whole, rather poorer than ours (at least in an economic/material sense).

I came home to find my garden full of pura vida. Because of our remarkably warm winter, everything is blooming at least two weeks ahead of normal schedule. My daffodils are in full force; my crocuses are finished. My azaleas and flowering quince are going strong. Pulmonaria, euphorbia, grape hyacinth are looking good. The Deutzia for whose life I feared is leafing out.

Baptisias are starting to push forth,

and my Camellia japonicas are blooming. Everything is looking invigorated.

Hope you find your own pura vida.