Crabapple getting ready to bloom…My neighbor mowed his grass every day from last Wednesday through Sunday… five days in a row. I think that each time he mowed, he lowered the setting on his lawn mower so that he is now mowing at nearly the lowest setting you can mow at and not be scraping dirt. Why else would he mow every day like that?
Contrast that with my mowing technique. I mowed at the highest setting on Friday, then on Monday I mowed again at the next to the highest setting and that’s the setting I’ll mow at for the rest of the season, until the very end in November. Then if I have another episode like this spring when the grass grows faster than I can get out to mow it, I’ll always have the highest setting to use to get caught up. It’s the emergency setting! But that rarely happens because I am one of those gardeners who likes to mow the lawn.
But lawns are hardly the gardening topic on everyone’s minds today. What’s on our minds is “we’ve lost of our Spring!” Has anyone seen it? It was here Monday, 74 degrees, sunny, just about as perfect a day as you could ask for. Sometime yesterday afternoon it disappeared. Now we are facing record low temperatures, freezing temperatures in the low 20’s and high teens.
As a precursor to losing Spring, I lost my sunglasses temporarily on Monday. These aren’t just any sunglasses, these are the prescription sunglasses I got specifically for gardening. They are all plastic frames, without those plastic nose pieces that get all gunky and dirty with sweat. (Hmmm… perhaps buying gardening sunglasses is one sign of being a gardening addict? I need to post about that.) I wore the sunglasses when I was mowing the front yard. Then I took a break and when I went back out to mow the back yard, I couldn’t find my sunglasses. I retraced my steps to see where I left them, but I couldn’t find them. Then when I started to mow without them, I found them.
They were on top of my head.
I wish it could be that easy to find our Spring again. All day at work people asked me what they should do about the coming freeze tonight, tomorrow night, the next night… at least four days of it. My answer? There really isn’t anything you can do. You can’t cover all the trees and shrubs that are blooming or have leafed out. Besides, covering plants really only helps if there is going to be a frost, a light frost. It isn’t going to help with a freeze.
You can cut tulips and daffodils and other flowers and bring them inside to enjoy.
And you can be thankful you don’t own an orchard around here, with apples trees getting ready to bloom and don’t complain if locally grown fruit is more expensive this fall. The top picture is of my crabapple tree this evening, getting ready to bloom, and look at those pretty, green leaves. After a few nights of freezing temperatures, I’m not expecting much bloom. I’ll just have to find a picture from last year and reminisce about how pretty it was and how it will be “next year”. Apple growers won’t have that option to wait until next year.
But if you live around here or anywhere in the Midwest and you “fell for” the early warm Spring and planted something like tomatoes outside, you probably don’t really understand gardening. I don’t mean to be harsh, but really, the first thing you should know about gardening around here before you buy a tomato plant is that the frost free date is generally around MAY 10TH, maybe later, even if the temperatures are in the 70’s in late March.
Really, I saw some tomato plants for sale at the local Meijer this past weekend, along with pepper plants. Not sure if they had annual flowers. Is that dishonest to sell those around here so early? Would they take them back if they froze? Back in college, I was told that growers of bedding plants actually counted on early shoppers having to re-buy their annuals after the annuals were killed by frost in late April. They called the early crop the “fools’ crop”. (If you are in the bedding plant business today and take offense at that statement, I’m just telling you what I was told 25 years ago. Feel free to comment and correct, nicely.)
And to conclude, these are some of my tulips. I am deciding if I should cut a few and bring them inside. As you can see tulips of another color are starting to bloom.
It is fairly obvious in this picture that this second group of tulips clashes with the first tulips blooming. It is more obvious in person. These were ALL supposed to be pastels. This second one is orange, which I don’t consider to be a pastel. Now I have hot pinkish-purple tulips and orangey tulips in the same flower bed. I would like all my tulips to bloom, but if the freezing temperature prevents this color mis-match from being real obvious, that might be a good thing. Anyway, remind me to stop buying cheap bags of tulip bulbs labeled “pastels” and order some good bulbs from a “real bulb company”!
Oh, and I’ve just decided I’m not cutting these tulips to bring them inside because they have very short stems and I don’t think they’d look much better in a vase, though I could separate the colors into different rooms that way.
That’s all I got for today. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and commiserations as we revisit winter. We whine and worry, but we know it is temporary and most of the plants will recover in time.
Now I think I need to go get a warm blanket to cover me, the gardener. It’s cold out there!