March, 2021 This month is the true beginning of my garden. January and February had their garden activities, but this month it all seems more real. The roses are beginning to sprout, as are the seeds in the greenhouse. The dahlias and tuberose begonias I've ordered are on their way. Yes! The colorful scented glories of May and June are just around the corner!
Sweet Pea Saga
In June of 2004 my daughter took me to an open house at Enchanting Sweet Peas in Petaluma, CA, and I was hooked! Every year since I’ve grown sweet peas in my garden, but very few of those sowings have been uneventful. The worst was 2009 when the seedlings met three successive waves of destruction!
I began by sowing seeds directly in the ground in October. Fall direct sowing is recommended in this area, so I felt confident. Nothing would sprout till late winter. But beginning in mid-February I conducted daily checks for any sign of a sprout. How exciting it was when I finally saw them coming up. Then one morning, when nearly all the seeds had sprouted, I ventured into the garden expecting to see two nearly full rows. But instead, there was nothing—well, that’s not quite true. What I saw was two rows of seedlings neatly shirred off at ground level and, apparently, eaten! I figured it was BIRDS. It was disappointing, but not devastating. Sweet Pea Devotees are strong. I still had seeds left.
The second sowing was in peat pots protected in cold frames in my greenhouse. Germination happened fairly quickly, and nearly all of them came up. I was anticipating a spectacular crop. Then one morning when I went out to check on them—disaster! I had forgotten to close the cold frames overnight, and all the tender young shoots were gone without a trace. RATS!
At this point I was out of seeds and needed to order more, so there was a bit of a delay before the third sowing. This one was also in peat pots, but I decided to keep them in the safety of my kitchen window. The seedlings were doing nicely. But then one morning as I entered the kitchen—devastation! The CATS had mistaken the pots for cat toys. They were spread all across the kitchen floor, dirt clawed from the pots and joyously strewn about, and seedlings unmercifully mangled and heartlessly left where they had died.
Birds, Rats, and Cats. But, still, a tree Sweet Pea Devotee doesn’t give up! I still had seeds, just barely enough to re-sow those two original rows in the garden bed. This time, I covered the rows with arches of chicken wire with the ends carefully sealed. The seeds sprouted and I kept the seedlings covered until they were a good 6” tall. Most of them survived my removing the chicken wire coverings. I was determined there wouldn’t be a year without sweet peas! And there wasn’t.
This year, I’m starting them in the greenhouse, hoping for the best. Wish me luck!
Except for the zinnias and sunflowers which I will direct sow in April, all my flower seeds for this year are now started. They’re sleeping comfortably in their pots in my coldframes, and some are starting to sprout. They’ll make beautiful bouquets for my sister and I to enjoy all summer—snapdragons, lace flower, annual phlox, pincushion flower, and carnations. The dahlia tubers will go in the ground in a month or so. The displays should be spectacular.
But it’s a shame to forget the small flowers. This time of year, the flowers in the garden are less spectacular but no less beautiful. I have rock iris; purple, pink and white violets; and miniature daffodils. They inspired me to make a little vase that would give these diminutive lovelies their chance to shine. I’m glad I did. She brightens a small corner on my table. Thank you, little fox!
Have you ever subscribed to the magazine Birds and Blooms? It’s purely delightful, filled from cover to cover with pictures of—you guessed it!—birds and flowers, but also butterflies and scenes of well-tended and well-loved gardens.
One spring I decided to use a single issue as my source and painted a montage of my favorite season’s eye candy. By the way, it's small - 6" x 12 1/2" - and not a wall piece. I just moved it to an easel on my kitchen windowsill to remind me of all the heart-warming sights—affirmations of the power of life that I will soon enjoy for real.
I see signs already—swelling buds on the apricot tree, tiny sprouts at the bases of the chrysanthemum plants, and a few tentative sprouts on the hydrangeas. But I hear a sign too—the evening chorus of the tiny frogs in my pond. It’s going to be a wonderful springtime!
I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, a 15% discount in my Etsy shop, TheFoxesGarden. Profits from any sales from the Bear section will go to Idaho Black Bear Rehab. Everything in the shop is hand made by me. From March 2 to 15, just use discount code MARCH15 at checkout. I ship the day after I receive your order, and domestic shipping is free. Click on the image of the three rabbits to visit my shop! (By the way, the only items that are not discounted are my books Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor and A Milkweed Christmas - The Inn at Ivy Knoll. If I discounted them, I'd be selling at a loss.)
The News from Milkweed
So exciting! My second Milkweed Manor book, Dark Days at Milkweed Manor, is nearly ready! I just have one more proof to check, then I'll publish it. Just like the first one, it's for animal lovers of all ages. Watch my facebook page or website for ordering info which will also appear in next month's newsletter.
Images of Easter
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