We knew that if we waited long enough that spring would come, even if this year our patience has been stretched a little thin; but now, on May 4th, the weather seems to be turning some kind of corner into spring. Let’s hope that it continues. My tulips seem to have sat, barely open, for weeks now but are finally blooming – at least a long cool wet stretch can put things on hold, presents to be opened later. I’ve been planting, taking out some failures from last season and trying new experiments; hopefully what I try this year will pass all the tests ahead of us and become permanent residents of the garden.

Most people say that a garden is never finished but I’ve always thought that eventually, once I have the perfect plants (usually  in drifts) in the perfect places, it will be more or less finished. All that will need doing is regular maintenance and division every few years. Hopefully not too few – I prefer perennials that don’t need frequent division and, with some of my plants, I’m pushing the limits and leaving them for years. With a good mulch in the fall many of them seem content to keep slogging along.

How about Primula vulgaris, white doubles, that haven’t been divided in 5 or 6 years or more? They keep blooming furiously every spring so I’m content to leave them alone. I’ve heard of Primulas depleting their soil and declining, sometimes refusing to grow there again once they have been dug up, divided and replanted. I suspect that the fall mulch keeps them going with no complaints – who divides primulas in the wild? Mother Nature only mulches. I also have a small patch of Primula elatior, along with another, ‘Millicent’, that seem to be able to naturalize somewhat.

My lilies seem to be coming back, in strength, this year (their 2nd, for most of them), so hopefully my garden is one that they approve of (never assured, I’m told) and that they’ll also settle down and, hopefully, reproduce. Already the ‘dead-easy’ Tiger Lily has scattered bulbils around original plants in a few places in the garden and the babies are spreading out like lawn grasses threatening to get out of hand – I’ve pretty much let them be; ‘out of hand’ may work – if not then I can always take a trowel to them. They might even work things out by themselves and paint a pretty, and low maintenance, picture; the only way to know is to try.

I’ve got a new, small, rose seedling that is growing on from last year, where I’ve tucked it into a bed. I missed it’s flowering last season, seeing only a hip, so I’m curious to see what the flower looks like. It has rugose foliage (I had seedlings from under both Lafter and Fru Dagmar Hastrup, a Rugosa hybrid – one died, not sure which). It appears to be low growing, not always easy to tell with a seedling plant. Rose hybridizers breed tens of thousands of seedlings looking for something superior so it’s unlikely to shake up the rosarian world but, at least, it has a local provenance. I’ll have to call it Poco something-or-other.

Jim Thorleifson

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