Gardening Glimpses

By MRS. HERMAN MCKENZIE,

Was there ever a year that nobody talked about the weather? I can’t remember any such time, but I think I’d like to.

This winter of 2017-2018 keeps columnists and coffee drinkers in local cafes all busy with their theories and remedies, but mostly it comes down to this: you ignore the weather, or you pay attention to it, stay safe and as healthy as you can, and don’t do anything really dumb to make things any worse in your garden than it already is, or to damage the plants which choose to keep on keeping on at your address.

I finally knew I had to deal with this due to some remarks as I read a Facebook posting by my great friend Becky Fox Matthews today, complaining about how soggy her yard was, after all the rain that had fallen in the Nashville area.

If her sloping front garden is soggy enough that she makes note of it, people better start building arks. When Vicki and I were there in October - the supposedly dry season - I thought the ground underfoot had more trapped water than I’d seen anywhere.

But it was just an incidental comment from her, on the way out to door to some great new restaurant or musical event that Music City is famous for, or off to do something more, some final perfecting touches on what promises to be the most fabulous American Daffodil Society convention ever.

More another week about why I am suspecting this 2018 ADS convention is going to be an all-out spectacular, but back to this weather.

Allen Martinson had a fine summarizing article in last week paper about all the questions people ask nurserymen about how to handle plant damage in their gardens, and other encouraging questions. Encouraging to us who approve when potential gardeners, and garden center customers, think instead of following the crowd.   

 

But I’d like to call your attention to a brief article, copied from USA Today, which is typical in subject matter of many that fill the bottom corner of the front page of the inside section of the daily paper.

This is about the weird weather combos across the nation this year, not only in heat but also in rainfall (and I want to go on record as being for too much rainfall rather than too little). Doyle Rice, the writer for USA Today, is predicting a warmer than usual spring not only for the southern tier of the nation, but also all the way up both coasts, to southern Maine, as well as western and southern Alaska. Winter temperatures are predicted in the Southwest and the southern plains.

A long late winter-like spring isn’t unusual in the High Plains, but it’s a bit of a surprise for the Pacific Northwest. What is definitely surprising is the persistent drought across the panhandle of Texas, and Oklahoma hasn’t seen rain for months. In my most recent “How are you, and how’s your weather?” conversation with my longtime friend Irene Saltz of the Oklahoma City area, she said, oh yes, we’ve had tornado threats, all right, but not a drop of rain. In Plainfield, Texas, and Amarillo, there have been almost 130 days with no rainfall.

As for California, usually thought of as paradise, not only has it had the most terrifying of forest fires, and the worst of mudslides, but also drought.

 

But back to where we tend our home gardens, (and as the late. great garden writer Allen Lacy frequently reminded us, “You garden where you live.” I much prefer this year’s version of late autumn into mid-spring than that of 2016. We had the usual dry October, and a cool rainy November, which is a fine time and situation to plant one’s daffodils in central Mississippi.

I didn’t get my volunteer work crew of one cranked up until early December, and we got the new bed planted in one long hard day. But then, no rain (which I could handle) and no cold weather at all. Not at Christmas, not in January or even February. I wasn’t much mollified by Brent Heath’s and Jay Hutchins’ comments that my green foliaged but almost totally non-blooming daffodils were because of the lack of cold. “The daffodils need at least a month of below 45-degree temperatures after planting, or they won’t bloom.”

This year Vicki and I were going to be ready to plant, in November, but as you remember, November in our household was like no autumn month ever before. Once we hit mid-January, I assured her that the wet soil would not matter, would be a very good thing indeed.

But we couldn’t plant in the bitter cold.

 

Now it’s finally spring, and predicted to remain so, at least for two weeks. Which should be enough.

Kevin leaves on Tuesday for Hawaii and other tropical paradises, and if he thinks we are going to continue our diligence every day at his new project (which deserves its own column) he is going to be sadly mistaken.

On Wednesday the boxes of bulbs come back into the hallway, for opening and making lists and labels, and the actual digging up of some open rows, and planting others. Won’t take as much added bales of compost, as the rows with bulbs already well up can take a bit of new dirt and lots of clean mulch. And I bet many of these bulbs will be up and raring to go to the show, come time for the Memphis show. (And maybe even for National, in Nashville.)

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The Home Place has been a part of the Northside community since 1946, but Lucille Nichols is who really makes it feel like home.