Saturday, January 26, 2013

A real winter's day yesterday


This morning too. Everything is still covered in ice.

Central NC, like much of the country, is experiencing a spell of real winter weather this week. I am rejoicing in the cold because I am hoping it will kill the ticks, as they had become active again in the mild December and January temps. Ugh. Obviously there were advantages to the relatively dry warm winter we had in 2011/2012 ~ nice footing, an overall easy winter, and in the spring, an unprecedented crop of figs and a magnificent display from the 'Climbing Old Blush' as it didn't experience any dieback. But, (and why is there always a but? Why can't we just have advantages without disadvantages??) the ticks over the spring and summer were horrendous. In every other year but last year the garden was a tick free zone. Ticks were only a problem in wild unmown places in May and perhaps June, and therefore easy to avoid, and then as the summer got dry and hot as it often does they'd die out completely. Not last year. It got hot all right ~ very very hot ~ but we had rain too, so the ticks kept on thriving, right through the first freeze. I rather like spiders and snakes but ticks ~ blech. At least none of us got any tick-borne illnesses. Yes, horses can get those too.

Now, everything is reassuringly frozen and yesterday sleezing rain was ticking down steadily. We had a beautiful sunny if cold week before today. Is there anything more beautiful than a sunny winter's day? No doubt part of the appeal is the contrast to the depth-of-despair gray doldrums of an overcast day in January, but when the sun comes out a magical transformation occurs. Light floods the world with beauty and makes it a masterpiece. Difficult to photograph though. What catches the eye as golden light filling the spaces between old stems and blades of grass and the dance of light and shadow in the air and on the ground looks like overexposed patches of bare ground where I have cleared and a jungle of falling over brown stalks where I haven't.
 

This area at the back of the big perennial bed used to be filled with Eastern Columbine, but the four o'clocks crowded them out. I started a four o'clocks elimination program in this bed last year; I shouldn't have planted them in this bed in the first place. They seed in too aggressively. I just planted 'Curlew' Narcissus bulbs in all of the blank spaces. 'Curlew' is an ivory daff in the jonquil family. I ordered 350 daffodil bulbs from Van Engelen last year; 'Curlew', 'Hillstar', 'Sweet Love' and 'Thalia' to help fill in under the bare knees of the baptisia when they bloom. Once the baptisias' leaves fill out they cast dense shade underneath; in a grouping of baptisias ephemerals look like the best strategy.
 
I wouldn't be clearing anything at all but I want to start getting the daff bulbs into the ground. And if I wait until March to start clearing I'll never get it all done until the growing season is well underway.

 

Typical of NC, temps will be back up to 70 by Tuesday and Wednesday. Currently the sun is back out and ice is falling like rain.


11 comments:

  1. We've had a lot of ice too! Today was nice but starting tomorrow we'll have rain for about 5 days. Will the yard ever dry out? The area you cleaned out looks really nice. Funny, you're pulling out 4 o'clocks and I'm planting them!

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  2. The ice just missed us. Saw a few ice cycles but they didn't last long. I love how the bare trees look against a sunny winter sky.

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  3. How I envy you being able to do any bulb planting or work in the garden in winter. We are frozen in here, and even if the light is beautiful and the days warm up, the ground is frozen like a rock. I can't wait to see your ivory daffodils. I just planted a small area with all white daffodils this fall, but it's a tiny space and only dozens of bulbs, not hundreds. Yours will be spectacular!

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  4. 350 daffs? WOW! That will be amazing! :o) I'm with you on hating ticks. Such nasty little creatures. We've had a cold winter and I hope there's more on the way to knock off our ticks, too. Plus, it kills blackspot spores. 4 O'Clocks were miserable for me. I ended up pulling them they looked so bad.

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  5. I can't wait to see how your new daffodils look. With 350 bulbs, you'll really have a magnificent display!

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  6. I can imagine how wonderful will bloom your Narcissus bulbs!
    I hope the cold passed and you're warm now.

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  7. I'll cross my fingers for your tick reduction, if you do the same for me and fleas.

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  8. The down side of cold enough weather to kill the ticks (yea!) is the deer are REALLY hungry. I currently have the lingering aroma of Liquid Fence in my sinuses. ugh.
    350 bulbs will present a great show! I like the idea of planting around the base of baptisias, would also help curb the subterranean critters. I know Thalia, will have to look up the others.

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  9. Sweetbay, Are you speaking of deer ticks? I so agree! horrid creatures. I am just not certain about the cold killing them is all. I sure hope so. For some reason they disappeared from here last May . . . odd really for we had rain. . . at least I think we did. Wishing you a tick free year!

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    Replies
    1. I don't think we have many deer ticks here, but there are American dog ticks and lone star ticks. The Am dog tick carries Rocky Mt spotted fever and the lone star tick erhlichiosis.

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  10. Bloody ticks. I really don't understand if they have a useful position in the food chain. I had a bite which literally itched for 7 or 8 months.

    Don't put off any work if your temps are heading north. Nothing worse than trying to cut back when everything's springing into growth.

    We've been having a mild winter so far in this corner of France - I hope we don't pay for it in other ways.

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