It’s wonderful to see how hard at work the pollinating insects are with so few sources of nectar early in the season. But with an active bee hive near my property I see many honey bees and occasionally, a Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris tapas) within the crocus.
During my first spring workday in the garden this weekend, my perennial garden received a major cleanup and haircut. It looks quite barren but for the snowdrops, crocus and the green tips of daffodils poking up. Cutting back the grasses is the hard part. I’ve enjoyed their taupy forms all winter and now they look a bit like stumps. Over the years I have figured out the easiest way (quickest cleanup) to cut them back is to tie up all the grassy blades with a bungy cord and use my hedge trimmers to cut the bundle in one level sweep. On the Highline garden in NYC the crews have been working since the last snow melted and the first little species tulips (Tulipa turkestanica) are blooming among these grassy “stumps”.
On todays rainy day, I fondly remember spending most of my summer on the sandy, arid terrain of Cape Cod, MA. A welcome respite from manicured lawns and perennial gardens are the wildness of protected seashore and marshland.
Cape Cod’s milder winter climate and its nutrient poor, fast-draining soil allow a lot of plants to succeed over those in my New Jersey garden (think rosemary, 20 ft privet hedges, yuccas, etc). Ideal for plants native to the Mediterranean region it is no surprise to encounter the family-owned lavender farm in Harwich, MA. Visiting a few weeks past the final harvest did not diminish the olfactory experience of the surroundings.
Wow, the last 8 weeks have been a little busy!!! We are now back in the Garden State and happy to be home. Of course we already miss the lakes, mountains and wonderful friends we made in Bavaria but life is good for us right now, right here. We are still living without our household items (held up at customs?) which includes (among a 1000 other things) my garden tools and furniture. So now is my chance to slowly take in the state of the garden I left behind four years ago, seeing what has grown (or not) and what I’m missing. Surprisingly this list is not as long as I feared but there is much work to be done as any gardener will tell you.
But before leaving Munich I did have a chance to visit the display gardens of the Weihenstephan agricultural college. This scientific teaching garden was a nineteenth century villa garden and is now a public park. It includes habitat-based plant combinations with drifts of herbaceous perennials, a rock garden and water garden. It’s all on a small scale but it surprised me to see these habitats so similar to what can grow in New Jersey. Although… not sure I would see someone with hair to match the flowers of canna in my back yard. Look closely and see if you can find her!
It’s the change of season which reminds me of our visit to Keukenhof in the Netherlands last year. When I tell my Dutch friends I actually enjoyed this they picture my tall frame amidst the many Asian tourists posing on my hunches in front of thousands of pastel-colored tulips and laugh, of course!
Yes, the tulips are an important element of the park but there is plenty of inspiration for real gardeners as well. Just to show you a few examples…