After months of unseasonably frigid weather, we’ve had a weekend respite. Celebrate! With temps nearing seventy we headed OUTSIDE for some warm Southern sun and a little lawn work.
We left the head gardener in the middle of a painting project and while the boy begrudgingly tackled the front lawn (hatehatehatehatehate Bermuda), I went to work on the rose/perennial beds.
Luckily I had pruned back most of my old (these and these) and David Austin roses around Christmas so I only had to rake out some early weeds then tackle a little dead wood. I happily snipped, then fed them (compost in the fall, this in the spring).
Are you a pruning fan? I totally am. I love to get my shears into a plant and visualize its best shape. I spend a lot of time standing and looking. It becomes very meditative, communing with the plant. Roses, more than any shrub, really make you concentrate. Watch out for thorns, carefully gauge the green from the dead wood, cleanly and swiftly cut, and watch out for the dead wood thorns. Pruning is probably a metaphor for life. You can’t prune mindlessly and for me, it’s a gift to be utterly absorbed. And the promise of rosebuds is just around the corner… bliss.
If you remember to watch out for aphids. But I digress.
Anyway, not sure how in the fall I didn’t notice that some of my Siberian and Japanese Iris are essentially out of control. I pulled out the dried foliage but stopped short of dividing since I know old man winter isn’t finished with the South yet. Although these plants are best divided in the fall, they are extraordinarily tough, and, in my neck of the woods, can be moved anytime that you can commit to watering them in after transplant. But even that is not always necessary.
My large 4×3 mound is the result of a single small clump of iris that was rescued from a weekend weeding heap a few years back. My husband accidentally uprooted some sad looking stalks and let them dry out in the sun before I realized what they were. Yikes! I hastily dug them into a rose bed with fingers crossed. And then I forgot about them, I honestly never watered them more than a time or two. Mother Nature handled the rest and now I’m contemplating dividing them. Soon.
But first, the lamb’s ears need some attention since they are similarly out of bounds. I really love this perennial, even though it gets a little invasive and crowds out anything less hardy in its path. It looks gorgeous with roses. Every late winter I survey the beds with dismay wondering if winter has finally killed off that fuzzy foliage for good. Every spring I find lots of new growth and I’m happy. I guess I’m going to wait a few weeks to start grubbing out the old leaves because I’ve gotta say, this stuff looks REALLY bad this year. I’ll check back in a few weeks…
Broken pots … argh! I know terra cotta is not meant for winter, but honestly in all my twenty-five plus years in Atlanta, I’ve rarely lost a pot. This year I lost multiples: several terra cotta, two cute ceramic giant “teacups” and some gorgeous blue pottery. Clean up on aisle seven. I researched ways to recycle this stuff, got rigorously honest with myself KNOWING that I am not making mosaic tiles from pottery shards (it hasn’t been high on the priority list even though I’ve thought about it for years) and with much guilt I tipped them into the trash. **gasp!**
I even said goodbye to some frozen stiff rosemary topiaries that never had any business being outside in the first place. I replaced these with some bushy new ones that now bookend my kitchen sink and make me happy every time I see (and smell) them. I’m happy all the time!
Spending all that time hauling clippings to the compost pile meant we didn’t spend much time inside. Here’s the Friday-Saturday bucket, um, paper towel…
What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):
- blood oranges
- onion stem ends & skin
- more blood oranges (three words: blood orange margarita)
- more lemons
- some lime too!
- limp cabbage outer leaves
- garlic paper
- brown banana peels
- more lemon
- clementine peel (I think I have citrus covered)
- grape stems & a few hiding moldy specimens
What I made with all of that: Salmon Tacos with Cabbage Slaw,, Mango & Pineapple Salsa (bought at Whole Foods), Feta, Lime Cream and Crispy Onions, plus Blood Orange Margaritas, a couple of smoothies and lots of orange and grape snacks.
Bring on spring! I’m totally ready for tacos and margaritas on the deck.