April 2022

March into early April is Stevie's favorite time to garden. She likes to sit outside and bask in the sun, but because we have a south-facing patio in downtown Baltimore and she is a very furry black dog, it starts being uncomfortably hot later in spring. But up until the last few weeks of April, she spends almost all day every day drowsing in the sun like an iguana.

Many things that I sowed this year—including the trailing nasturtium and mara des bois strawberries above—are doing alright. I had issues with some seeds molding (especially asters, lavender, and herbs) and seedlings either damping off (especially bells of Ireland) or going leggy (especially flowers, especially poppies). I also tried hardening everything off too early and too harshly, hoping to rush things. On the other hand, Stevie kicked over a tray of strawberries right after I sowed them, so the fact that I have any at all is a big win.

Most of my Floret seeds, with the exception of the Sweet Peas 'Sir Jimmy Shand' (above left), Amaranth 'Hot Biscuits,' and few sickly looking Foxglove 'Alba,' have croaked. I keep sowing them, but even if one of the China Asters 'Valkyrie Chamois' does bother to sprout, it kicks the bucket a week later. Ditto for the Iceland Poppies 'Champagne Bubbles.' Sunflowers have been easy to get going, as has the passionflower, calendula, borage, pincushion, and bachelors button. But I've also killed several of those if I'm being totally honest. What gives? Am I unusually bad at this?

Even though seeds have been a struggle, the establishing plants have been holding their own. Jean gifted my dad (who then gifted me) several hellebores, above left, which I already am looking forward to seeing in bloom next winter. They were a bit shriveled and crispy when I got them, but they're on the mend now, and actually the flowers are much more resilient than I thought. Also got a mystery primrose and a few flag irises through the Jean to Steve pipeline. At least, I think they're irises—they haven't actually bloomed in the time that I've owned them. I didn't cut back foliage, I divided them, and they're in full sun, so I don't really know what more they could want.

The Japanese Maple that I dug up from my parent's yard (above right), which I used to think looked very gangly and shrimpy, is starting to starting to have a really nice size and shape. On Gardener's World they call its foliage "frothy." True!

I bought loads of plant stands and new pots. That's probably the biggest change so far. I want to fill a strawberry pot and several hanging baskets, and maybe a few milk jugs, with trailing nasturtium. There's a lot of ugly wires and meters and pipes out back, and I want them to be covered with plants. Hopefully I can figure out a way to do this so there's interest in the winter, too. I would love to be able to come out here year round.

These chives at left overwintered, and started sprouting flower heads toward the end of April. They're clearly not pleased about the pot they're in, so I'll need to repot them at some point. I don't use chives in my cooking very much, so I tend to neglect them.

On the other hand, the direct sowed chamomile was very resilient despite some battering. It seems to like its container just fine, even though it's an old broken window box I found in the woods last year. I found two of them in Woodberry while walking Stevie, buried in dirt and trash. I knocked most of the dirt out, put them in my trunk, and brought them home to clean up. When I took them out they were covered in ants, like a whole colony. After that I was kind of scared to drive, in case my car was just chock full of ants. (I like ants just fine, but I don't want thousands of them living in my car.)

Anyway, I think it's coming together. The primroses turned out to be red, and while I don't think they're my favorite flower, they weren't nearly as stodgy as I thought they'd be, and I was sad to see them go.

The End. :)