22 April 2014

Spring is here - maybe

This has been a transitional type of day, some spring showers, definitely spring's blustery winds, and the arrival of yet another cold front. The low is forecast to be 37F and if that is correct, all is well at Stratheden. Today two varieties of apples opened their first blooms; virtually every flower seems to have a single petal damaged by last week's hard freeze but the blossoms themselves seem quite viable. The species illustrated above is a dwarf and even the blooms are reduced considerably in size. The two large Mutsu apple trees yielded heavily last year and have almost no blooms whatsoever this year, as is normal. Thus there will not be a surplus of apples this autumn but perhaps just enough.

The large lilac has also opened its first blooms today and is on the verge of exploding into a riot of colurs, textures and perfume. Although short-lived as a cut flower, one cluster can reclaim the air of an entire room in the house.

Hopefully there will be but few frosts remaining in the spring before summer is soon declared. May the weather be as fine where you dwell, dear reader.


19 April 2014

Winter's icy fingers still grasp at the farm

Brace yourself, dear reader, for more whinging about the weather...

Earlier this week, the lows on consecutive nights were respectively: 23, 26, 27 degrees; hard freezes. The day (April 15th, a chilling day in more ways than one) the cold front blew in, the temperature was 58F at sunrise and by sunset had plunged to 29F. The wind was howling all day, sucking the warmth right out of the ground, then ceased early in the night so the cold air could settle on the ground.

I borrowed large black rubber calf feeding tubs from my kind neighbor, Clay, and covered plants with those and five gallon buckets. A bale of straw was broken open and spread over several plant beds surrounding the house. A few small potted plants were carried indoors.

The tulips about to open were cut and placed in vases as were several dozen daffodils, all contributing to a delightful scent and clusters of brilliant colours about the house.

The results after three consecutive freezing nights were not good. The tulips froze, both flower stems and leaves; it remains to be seen if the plants can recover from their prostrate condition. The daffodils had been blooming well - the yellow flowers froze although the white flowers appear to avoided damage (can any reader illuminate us on why the difference?). Peonies were just beginning to emerge from their long sleep and their damage is yet to be determined precisely. At least 80% of the cherry tree blooms were affected. The lilacs and redbuds were just beginning to open and have, a week later, hardly progressed - they may be damaged also.

The single most devastated plants were the wild ferns; 100% are now brown and thoroughly dead. Perhaps the phenomena has simply escaped Mr. Fuzzy's observation in past years but I cannot recall ever seeing fern mortality of this degree before.

Life is nonetheless sprouting all about, well, at least in the Jiffy Pots: marigolds, zinnias, nasturtiums, etc. In a couple of weeks, the peppers, squashes and eggplants will be started in Jiffy Pots, ready to be planted outdoors by the end of May. Rest assured that all worthy news of Stratheden Farms and its residents will be duly posted for your illumination.

A Happy Easter to all.

04 April 2014

Yellow is the colour of...

Yes, indeed, yellow is the colour of flowers at Stratheden Farms now. The forsythias have just erupted into a explosion of brilliant colours, even on an overcast day like this one. Most years. these glorious flowering shrubs are cautious, slowly opening more and more blooms, but never in profusion; not so this year where they have revealed their radiance in a barrage of blooms.

A few readers have been a bit, well, ummm, grumpy, about the lack of posts. There has been but little news and except for a few sunsets, nothing of any visual quality to share with readers. It has snowed SIX times since the previous post, there are photographic documentations of those days certainly, but it was feared that the repeated mantra of "its snowing again' would bore you, dear reader. The weather has swung wildly most of the calendar year - Sunday morning it snowed, Wednesday is was 77F. Typical. Average last frost is in mid-May but perhaps this year will be an exception. Seeds are germinating in outdoor large pots already.

The snows and wild swings interrupted the flowering of the numerous clumps of daffodils. The first incautious daredevil flowers opened weeks ago and were stunned by the 18F nights that followed the warmth. Nonetheless, no apparent damage was sustained by most plants and they are shining brightly now, not quite yet at their climax but close.

The most certain proof of Spring's true arrival is the blooming of wild flowers and the coltsfoot is always the first to open on the farm. The plant has many medicinal uses but its fame lies in the fact that the blooms appear before the plant produces any leaves, a most unusual trait in the floral tribes.

Leaving the theme of yellow, here is the other wild flower now painting parts of the yard with its beautiful delicate blue. May Spring bring you the renewal of life and hope for the future.