Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hey! Look what survived the winter in my garden!

There's the cutest pot of johnny jump ups outside the shed. In the morning sun they turn their bright shining faces outward--joyful harbingers of spring!   But don't let their adorable looks fool you.  Those perky little violas are tougher than steel nails.  Where brawnier annuals shriveled after the first or second frost, these tiny plants hung on tight through our mildly chilly winter, making a rare but strong comeback in March.

Reblooming in pots is even more impressive as the soil temperature is lower and freeze and thaw more prominent.  This 'twas the winter of little snow and mininal arctic blasts.  When this happens, plants that are marginally hardy, those which might survive as perennials a few hundred miles south, come back with a vengeance--at least until chilly winter returns.

Leaving the herb pot out all winter paid off.  Oregano, parsley and chives have all rebloomed.  Sweet tender basil was the only casualty. 

A full ring of dusty miller encircles a tree.  A border of Sweet William blooms profusely.  There's even a lumpy cactus that has survived two winters in a south facing windowbox.  It's not too attractive and the tiny needles often penetrate garden gloves, but the bragging rights outweigh the discomfort.  Cactus overwintering in Michigan?
Some marginal survivors become leggy like the pansies along the driveway. Clipping stringy extensions back to the fullest point produced bright yellow blooms in only a few days.

Garlic Mustard
What else survived with a vengeance this temperate winter?  The hardiest of the hardy--weeds!  weeds! weeds!  Without encouragement, the invasive garlic mustard of last fall is phat and happy.  Dandelions are  sprouting early  yellow flowers.  This will be a bumper crop of trouble  unless early action is taken. Garlic mustard pulls out fairly easily. Dandelions are tap rooted and must be dug out with a sharp pointed spade. Other green methods like boiling water may work but are kinda dangerous.

Primrose Lane
 Early intervention reduces the need for unhealthy chemical use later.

Weed killers cause toxic phosphate runoff into lakes and streams.  Much of our area is watershed, thus the individual homeowner's impact on the enviroment is exponentially higher than communities on drier flatter ground. 

Michigan is never the same place twice, so enjoy the minor aberations of nature, and start pullin' those weeds!

Peeking Pansies