In Like a Lion...Out Like a Baby Lamb

March, which blew in on a rainy, blustery Thursday, is headed...meek-and-mild...out the door this coming Saturday. We are paused to turn the page over to April, but before that occurs, I thought I'd post a pic or two of Casa 3917.

Iris blooming at the mailbox:
"
Rock Star"
Spring arrived way before the calendar told us it should.  The Weather Wonks tell us that's due to La Nina, a weather phenomenon where the Eastern Central Pacific ocean temperatures affect our NC Winter. Most people in general are thankful that this winter was so mild.  Most gardeners, on the other hand, are of mixed emotions.

True, Mr. T was able to check a big item off his list when he finished re-mulching the garden paths and the Rondel (the oval shape in the center of our Way Back garden), thanks to an abundance of mild March weather. Mulch makes it all seem so well-tended.

The dogwood and the azaleas (photo, right) are beginning to bloom, just as the forsythia, the daffodils and the hyacinths are finishing. The iris (photo, left) and the candy tuft in the front are even beginning to flower.


Azalea...after the rain...
I welcome the warmth, as every seed and every transplant I plant switches into hyper-grow the minute the soil is back in place. In the Kitchen Garden in the Way Back, the lettuces and spinach are green and lush.  The cabbages and broccoli are tall and strong.  The asparagus (on its second Spring) is producing lovely spears for the first time. The potatoes and the onions are both growing ahead of schedule. Only the carrots haven't made an appearance...which is more due to the crusty, clay soil than to the weather.

In the Way Back Orchard, all 11 of the newest fruit trees are leafing out, and all except one of the other apple trees (planted last Spring) have shown signs of life.  We will be fertilizing them and adding mulch-rings this weekend, if the weather stays as gloriously beautiful as it is today.  We purchased a swing on our last Tractor Supply run and plan to install it here soon...a perfect spot to rest while working in the Way Back.

In the Berry Patch, the blueberries are all abloom, and the blackberries have leafed out spectacularly.  The grapes along the fence are even breaking bud (which isn't necessarily a great thing, since we had wanted to relocate these guys...that will now have to wait until they go dormant next Winter). The new strawberry bed (created by transplanting runners from the old bed) is not only showing the signs of growth on the new plants...there are also flowers on many!  I'll need to get some straw on them soon.

And, in the newest addition to the Way Back, our Rose Garden, all 12 of the new David Austin English Roses have growth.  Woo hoo!  Mr. T got these guys in the ground as soon as he could after we received our shipment, even finishing by flashlight.  We have 9 hybrid teas coming from Roses Unlimited in South Carolina next month, along with another DA order of 14, for which we will be digging holes this weekend.  We have outlined the path through the Rose Garden, and Mr. T has assembled and stained the new teak glider that will be placed on a stone pad (to be installed...:) soon...a perfect spot to enjoy our morning coffee.  We will be moving a feeder and the concrete bird bath to that location so that the bluebirds who have moved into the newest bluebird house on the fence will have a bistro to call their own.

So, what's not to love about this, you ask? Well, a mild winter...and this has been one of the mildest on record...means (1) we will be battling an abundance of bugs come summer-time...and (2) an earlier appearance of my least favorite gardening cohorts, the snakes. Yes, I saw my first snake the other day...and happily lived to tell the tale.

It was a "good back" day for me, and I finally tackled a chore that has been on my To Do list for months: get the "new" strawberry bed planted.  [Mr. T had already tilled the new row...and tilled it again...and tilled it a third time to create a wide, raised bed over the Winter.]  I  had worked in the "old" strawberry bed (which was slated to be tilled under and become a part of the new Rose Garden) for several hours, digging up and removing runners to go to the new bed.  For this chore,  I used my handy-dandy new (purple!) kneeler that I'd ordered from Gardener's Supply...and which I pronounced "GREAT!"

After we planted the new bed (finishing in the rain, I might add...), we had so many runners left over I decided to keep them and plant them in containers:  a strawberry jar that I used previously for herbs; several hanging baskets; and many, many pots here and there.   The next day, as I was finishing putting the last 2 runners in my last empty basket, I thought it needed one or two more to fill it out...and Mr. T had not tilled the bed under just yet.  So I grabbed my trowel (but not my kneeler) and dropped down on my hands and knees amongst what remained of the old strawberry bed for "just two more."  I stabbed the trowel into the straw around a promising runner...and the straw moved.  Well, slithered actually.

You can probably guess what happened next.  I screamed...got up and outta the strawberry bed faster than I thought I could move (what bad back?)...and made it to the garden gate (like that's home base...:) in record time. Mr. T came a'runnin' to see what was wrong.  Of course, he started asking all those pertinent questions: what color was it?  How long was it? Where did it go?  Like I had loitered long enough to know the answer to any of those queries...

The next thing that happened is news-worthy.  Instead of retreating from the Way Back for a week (like I did the last time I saw a snake in the garden)...or, telling him to "sell the house" (like I did 32 years ago, when I saw a water moccasin in our back yard in Cordova)...I said "I need those strawberry runners to finish my basket."  No, I didn't return to the scene of the sighting myself, but I stood nearby giving encouragement and great directions to Mr. T...who recovered both the runners and the trowel without seeing said snake. He also complimented me on how much I have matured in my snake phobia...and I beamed with pride.

"Old dog...new trick" comes to mind...:)


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