Garden Log 5/1/22: A Little Chilly for Gardening

It’s a little chilly for working in the garden this weekend, but if you bundle up and start moving, you quickly warm up, and may find yourself stripping off a layer or two after a bit. A nice hot drink first helps too, or in my case today, a cup of chicken-and-stars soup.

Yesterday I pulled all the fading hyacinths out of my early spring planters; I’ll cut off the flower stalks, leave the leaves, and plant them out in the garden. With luck, they’ll come back year after year going forward.

We’re in mid-spring now, and I like to see a nice full planter by this point (I’m okay with some sparseness in early spring, since it seems suited to the season). When I went to a free garden design workshop at Gethsemane Gardens, one of the things they recommended was to really cram in the plants (cheek-by-jowl, as the expression goes).

Now, obviously, they’re in the business of selling plants, but they say that’s what professionals do with their planters, and I think that’s probably right. You don’t need to give them as much space as you would if you were planting them in the garden, since you’re only expecting them to grow there for a few months.

I replaced the hyacinths with pink stock and white snapdragons (picked up a few days ago at Luurs) — I’d hoped to grow snapdragons from seed this year and save some money, but while my snapdragon plants seem happy enough, they’re not anywhere close to blooming — maybe I need to start them earlier, if I want them ready for mid-spring? I’ll try to remember to try that next year.

I’ll still plant them at some point, hopefully, and although they’re annuals, in theory they should drop seed and make babies, so I’ll probably try to plant those in the garden, rather than in planters, so they have a chance of doing so. I’m not sure exactly where you’d put snapdragons in a garden bed — at the front of a border, I guess? I’ve only ever had them in planters before, so design advice is welcome.

Stock (aka gillyflower) is a lovely old-fashioned plant, with both double and single flower forms, and a pleasant sweet/spicy scent. I generally go for an English cottage garden look in my yard, because a) I love the look of it, and b) it’s a style that’s very forgiving of chaos. It evolved out of many British homes with tiny gardens and not much budget, finding and sharing the plants they could afford. So it’s very floriferous and also a little wild, which suits me fine.

More about stock:…/

I’ve been trying to incorporate some prairie plants into that style for the past few years, and I think many of them work well, but it’s definitely not the full-on prairie look that some native gardeners prefer. But my garden is usually chock full of pollinators and wildlife, so it must be working reasonably okay. I saw a bee on one of the snapdragons yesterday, though I didn’t manage to move fast enough to get a photo, alas.

I keep to cool tones that complement my house colors in the front garden — since I have a colorful Victorian, the garden and the house are really happiest when they’re working together to paint a picture. This week is probably the best week in my garden right now — all the flowering trees are in bloom, and the shrubs are starting to pop, and the tulips are coming up, and it’s just flowers everywhere.

Remember when composing your planters to consider including silver / grey — it works really well to tie tones together. I swung by Lowe’s Brickyard this morning and picked up some dusty miller ($1.98 each), and also some trailers ($3.98 each), and that really helped fill out and balance the planters. If you compare the photos with (photos 1-3) and without (photos 4 and 5) dusty miller, you can see how much more full they look once it’s added.

Dusty miller is also perennial, so if you’re frugal and organized, you can plant it out in the garden at the end of the season, and it should come back next year; it can be propagated from seeds too, or from cuttings. And it’s a great choice for moon gardens, as the foliage reflects moonlight. 🙂

More about dusty miller:…/dusty-miller-senecio…/

Porch planters all done for the season! Time to give them a good drink, and then on to the hanging baskets above them…

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