Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting a Late Start for the 2014 Season

The weather has finally warmed up on the Western Slope of Colorado.  We have not had bad frost this spring.  But we are still not out of danger.  Technically, we are not out of danger until the end of April or the first week of May.  But in a typical Western Colorado fashion, this spring is warming up fast.  It's nice after a rather nasty winter (2 years in a row with some terrible inversion that kept cold air in the valley for an extended period).  It always feels like we go from late winter to late spring so fast...  Oh, and the gusty wind and rain also routinely shortens the show of early ornamentals and fruit trees like plums and apricots.

The winter of 2012 seriously damaged our Red Bud tree in the front yard.  Top 2/3 of the tree was killed.  Late in the season in 2013, amazingly enough, the tree started growing shoots and leaves.  I thought we'd have to cut it all the way down, but we didn't.  Still sad, but not a total loss. ^_^  Cherry tree in the backyard (Somei Yoshino) didn't get so lucky.  As far as I can tell, only a sucker shoot that came from the root have blossoms and the rest of the tree looks dead and dry... T_T  I'm not having much luck with cherry trees in the backyard.  And this happened after 7 years or so of growing just fine.  (Doubly sad...)

The Benishidare cherry in the front has definitely suffered somewhat.  There are a lot of dead branches that require pruning, and the bud count is way down.  We'll spike the trees with fertilizer spikes on all the ornamentals and see if they can pick up the pace.

The good news is that we've managed to warm up quickly without having frosty mornings so far.  The wisteria in the front yard, for the first time in 3 seasons, is looking promising with some of the flower clusters already starting to bloom.  This vine always look loaded with bud clusters in mid-spring, but for the last two years, they were all wiped out when the temperature dipped too low.  We were treated to a much diminished show in August.  Still pretty, but you had to look real close to find the flower clusters among all these leaves. LOL

One of my top performers every year is my crabapple tree "Hopa".  This tree has been here as long as we've owned the house, so we go way back.  I originally mail ordered this tree as a four-foot youngun.  It has done wonderfully well.  It now towers over the roof.

Crabapple "Hopa" - just started opening 2 days ago and it's already putting on quite a show!
Can you spot a honey bee?  This tree is a popular place for bees.
I love listening to the collective hum of the honey bees that come to the crabapple blooms.  It gives me the good feeling knowing that spring is finally here and the bees are doing well, even after a nasty winter.

Grape Hyacinth
Fun little guys that also come back year after year with no special care from me.  I like these Grape Hyacinth bulbs.  Planted by the previous owners, they were here the first spring after we bought the house, and they've always popped up every spring. ^_^

Double-flower lilac
This lilac started out as a 2-gallon pot of "purple lilac" from Wal-Mart several years back.  It was a Mother's Day gift one year.  For 2 seasons, it didn't do anything but just sit by the house.  It then finally occurred to me that there may have been some planting issues (gardener error) here.  I did a search online and suspected that I had planted the lilac shrub too shallow.  I added a little bit of soil to the foot of the shrub and the following spring ... bam!  Flower clusters everywhere. XD  I was doubly delighted when I saw the flowers were in fact 'double' on this variety.

Bradford Pear tree
One of the trees we got for free from the city.  Our city has been designated as the Tree City USA for having a certain number of trees in public places like parks and also having an active planting program for the streetside.  The watering and general maintenance are the property owner's responsibility, but the city crew will come and plant your trees in the front yard free of charge.  We originally had two matching Bradford Pear trees, but one year, some idiot backed up into one of them with a truck and completely knocked the young gree off at the ground level.  I called the city's tree program division and they came on the same day with a replacement tree.  ^_^  Didn't match the other tree, but who cares?  (The replacement is a white crabapple, which is doing well.)

A cluster of purple tulips
I used to have two rows of tulips in upwards of 650 in numbers at their peak on both sides of the winding walkway from the sidewalk to the front of the house.  Well, it started out with 150 bulbs, so they multiplied over the years.  After so many years though, they were rather crowded and their performance has diminished.  It really is time for replanting.  I may lift and keep some of the bigger bulbs, but the whole area needs revamping pretty badly. ^^;  These tulips are 2 years older than my dauaghter, so they've been here for nearly 2 decades.  No wonder they're getting tired...

So that's the good part of the front yard's show so far.  Wisteria photos should be coming soon.  I am working on the backyard's SFG boxes right now, removing debri from last season (I always fail at cleaning at the end of the season!) and amending the soil with compost from our county's organic waste composting facility.  I bought 10 bags about a week ago, wiping out the last of the 'fine' compost bags in the warehouse. *grins*  Last year, by the time we went there, only the 'medium' compost (particle sizes) was available and some of the pieces were rather large... definitely bigger than 1/2 inch specified on the bag. ^^;

Let the fun begin!