Thursday, March 29, 2007

Glory of the Snow

I finally managed to get a brief rainless tour out front tonight after work, and was quite excited to see that the Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) had arrived --albeit post-neige-- this year. I'm sure they were just biding their time underneath all the piles of snow until the recent thaw, and with some of the real warm-up days we've had of late, they came rushing up to brighten the early spring garden.

With their unique hues of blue and warm golden inner bits, these diminutive flowers were a real delight to discover on a damp, mostly overcast (the norm of late around here) late afternoon. As for growing them, they could hardly be easier to establish in a sunny spot near the front of your perennial border. The biggest drawback is that they are not that widely accessible (these were internet buys a few years ago) and are relatively pricey for one of the smaller bulbs.
But that disadvantage aside, they recommend themselves eminently as one of the more unusual of the early spring bloomers. And as bulbs go ... they could hardly be easier to plan t... they don't go very deep (unlike tulips, daffodils and other larger bulbs), and all they require is a sunny spot in fertile, well-drained soil, a chilly winter and the early warming rays of the sun to bring them forth to catch the eye of the observant early spring garden observer. They also appear to naturalize quickly and our three plantings have been increasing in width every successive year ... what's not to like?

And finally, why not a quick bonus crocus! This variety is called Pickwick and is one of the "giant Dutch crocus" varieties. We're particularly fond of the purple veining in this one, and it's a shame that they don't last as long as the earlier snow crocus ... our giant crocus have been battered by the wind and rain this past week, so most of them are already a bit past their prime. I actually really liked how the folded texture came out on the petals of this one, even if it would have been perkier a day or so ago ... But still... even slightly bedraggled, they still bring a wonderful splash of color here and there in the big perennial border ... I'll have a few more soon in another post, complete with detailed inner bits for Olivia ...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sweet Harbingers of Spring

Here are the first of this year's snowdrops from out front in the original bulb bed. Almost as soon as the snow cover began to melt, these cheerful late winter troopers emerged to begin the annual bursting of the bulbs festival around Casa IVG.
In fact, Snowdrops (galanthus sp.) often will indeed poke their heads out from under the snow and surprise you, but this year, given the enormous cover we had for over a month, they really didn't get a chance until the big thaw started to happen the week after the last ice/snow festival ... the one that claimed the Ranger, as you'll recall.

There's a lot to recommend these little guys for any garden, especially if you just can't stand how winter drags on and you crave to see some proof that flowers will indeed return soon! They
are virtually carefree once planted (and since they're small bulbs, that's not too big of a task initially), they naturalize nicely after a few years and return faithfully every year, usually around the end of February for us, (though as noted, it was significantly later this year). Once we see Snowdrops nodding their graceful white heads, we know the crocus can't be far behind ... as you can see in the following photo taken the same day (17 March, 2007). The simplest of all crocus (to my mind), the "snow crocus" varieties are among my very favorite flowers ... due in large part, I think because I've always associated them with the early heady days of spring when you know that aside from a few isolated minor incidents, the snows are either receding or gone completely from the garden.

Since these were taken a whole host of others have popped up and are blooming in shades ranging from deep purples, yellow, white and striped varieties ... Unfortunately I've not been able to get any pictures yet due to weather ... no more snow, but increasingly frequent rains and overcast days ... Sunday was a glorious high of 82, however with the sustained spring winds of 30-40 mph, it was a bad day to try to get flowers to stand still ... so you'll have to hope (as I am) that there are sunnier, calmer days ahead later this week, so I can capture them and bring them to a gardening blog near you...

... Stay tuned ...

Objects in the mirror ...

As the saying goes, are much closer than they may appear ... and here's the result of our great car shopping expedition. Enjoy this brief moment of IVG car obsessiveness, because they don't come around often ... so here's the skinny:

2006 Pontiac Vibe (which we learned is the same thing as a Toyota Matrix, made in the same plant in CA), low mileage, all wheel drive and loads of nifty gewgaws and buttons. Oh, and a sunroof too. Much kinder gas mileage than the Ranger, though a bit more limited on the hauling capacity. But we think we made an acceptable compromise given the incredible space you can open up inside this deceptively small looking little wagon.

In short, we're loving it. And the ride is .... well, much comfier than anything we ever expected from the Ranger. Oh, and we can actually transport other humans without cramming them into fold down seats in the so-called "back seat" of the truck. It was a good deal, even though we had to finance some of it, but at least we're all covered warranty wise until 2011, so we think it was worth it.

This was taken on 17 March, 2007 not long after we brought it home, and you'll note there is no more snow, no more ice ... in fact the first crocus and snowdrops are almost visible in that little corner of the bulb bed you can see near the right front tire. Some of those will appear in a post here very soon...
And finally, here's a view --a mocking self-portrait in fact-- from inside the passenger side.
I managed to get what I was going after ... that ubiquitous warning .... the cool reflections were a nice bonus, I thought.

So there you have it ... some of the reasons of many things have been relatively dormant around here of late, but on the uptick again now that spring has truly arrived.

... Now, back to our regularly scheduled spring floral programming ...

When the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Hits you ...

You know that your trivia knowledge of catchphrases past extends back perhaps a few more years than you'd like to admit. Or maybe the ice just got the best of you.

Well that second big ice/snow storm we had from March 1-3 this year got us. After four years of successfully maneuvering the slick roads and snows, our beloved Ford Ranger met its match in the form of a traffic pole at an intersection. On the way home from work on a day when it got really bad, we fishtailed through an intersection at a relatively low speed (about 10 mph) and found ourselves just barely missing several cars ... only to watch, in that gut wrenching variety of slow motion vision not to be envied by anyone, ourselves slowly hurtling toward a pole and no way to stop it.

Long story short. No one injured. Not even a pole! Airbags didn't even deploy! Yours truly did manage to push the truck away as C maneuvered and we limped home. Insurance called. Several days later, truck totalled. Check issued. Not a bad thing after all. Rental rented. Much visiting of and a few visits to dealerships
and test drives later, we settled upon a new vehicle.

... to be continued ...