This was a pretty busy gardening week for me, the first one of spring really. I spent a good bit of time cleaning up – removing old mulch, the last of the oak leaves (I always leave a layer in the perennial beds until spring), pulling up treelets and weeds and related undesirable stuff, and getting rid of the tulips (no point in leaving them in the ground here) and other winter/early spring “annuals”. That’s the drudgery part. Then I got to start on the fun stuff. On a trip to north Mississippi Tuesday, I found a red twig dogwood at a garden center in Oxford. They’re really, really borderline here – I’m near the edge of zone 8 and zone 7 – and it may not make it, but I wanted one, and decided I could possibly make a zone 6/7 microclimate for it. I planted it under the outer branches of the big oak next door, at a place where it will get morning sun, the filtered shade during mid-day, then shade from about 3PM onward, on a bit of a slope so it’s feet won’t be wet. And I’ll mulch it heavily. Maybe it’ll do OK. Some of you zone 5-6 gardeners, send it some cool vibes this summer. I also found an orange native azalea, which has found a home replacing an old Formosa azalea that had outlived it’s usefulness.
Then today, after finishing up the cleanup, I went rambling through some local garden centers – that’s the most fun anyway, right? And did some impulse buying – a weigela “Wine and Roses”, some Aster oblongifolius, some angelonia Carita, which I planted in the midst of some rudbeckia hoping they’ll bloom about the same time, and some 6-packs of red dianthus, purple verbena, and burgundy coleus for a couple of big pots near the street in front of the arbor over the sidewalk. I also stuck in a couple of Terracotta Million Bells petunia for each pot. I think it will all look good together. Then I planted two dozen mixed gladiolus corms in front of the picket fence, also near the street, behind some irises and daylilies where I can support them unobtrusively if I need to, and six dahlias – I’ve never tried dahlias, so I’ll be interested to see how they do. Another first was a pack of 25 mixed asiatic lilies – when I was on Felder’s radio program a few weeks ago, one of my Canadian gardening acquaintances emailed to ask how they did down here, so I figured I should find out. After losing last spring recovering from knee surgery, it’s nice to be able to get back out in the dirt.