Half the lilies in the garden are in full bloom while the rest are in big fat buds that will open soon — I hope. The recent heat produced multiple flowers on the waterlilies in the pond. I love the mirror-like reflections that water causes and I equally like the red stems that are sometimes visible.
You can see all the rips and holes in the leaves caused by the hail over the weekend. The wild weather also brought down lots of leaves and twiggy bits now resting on the swath of leaves covering part of the pond.
The water lilies that are blooming at the moment are almost all on the side of the pond with more shade but it does not seem to affect them. In fact, one of the interesting things I've noted is that water lilies close in the early afternoon on a sunny day. When it is cloudy and rainy they stay open for more of the day, usually remaining in bloom until late afternoon or early evening.
I am constantly fascinated by Lilium martagon 'Mrs. R. O. Backhouse.' Depending on the light and time of day, her color changes — at least to my eye. Here the flowers are an almost acid yellow.
Now they appear much warmer and more golden.
But I always think of this lily as pinky-peach, which is the color of the back of the petals and buds.
I've been growing L. martagon 'Claude Shride' for a long time. A few years ago I added 'Russian Morning' for a subtle contrast.
The contrast is so subtle I can't see any difference among the blooms. Or maybe I'm just confused about what is planted where.
On cold, rainy and rather miserable days we often see Fred and Ethel splashing about in the pond, but they disappeared from the garden during the recent hot spell. So we were glad to see them here again on Friday. Mark was off doing Saturday errands this afternoon when I looked out the window and saw Ethel standing on the round stone at the edge of the pond. When I glanced out again a few minutes later I couldn't see her but there were a bunch of little birds wobbling around the pebble beach that edges the pond. As I stood at the window watching them, I suddenly realized they weren't birds — they were ducklings!
In the twenty years the ducks have been coming to our pond, this is only the third time that Ethel's brought the ducklings. We don't have enough secure cover for them to actually nest here.
Luckily Mark arrived home in time to take a few pictures. The minute he walked out the door Ethel and the kids started swimming away from him.
This morning the pond was almost completely covered with seeds from the surrounding trees. Turns out the ducklings and even Ethel are almost impossible to see swimming amidst the gold and green and brown dappled surface of the water.
They swam to the farthest edge of the pond from Mark and went into the Irises behind the big rocks that are in the water. Once Ethel decided it was safe, she let the kids come out into view again.
All ten of them were practicing their swimming technique while she watched.
Then she rounded them up and they all went to the back edge of the pond for a nap.
The ducklings must all be underneath her because they aren't in the water and they didn't leave the garden. Another perfect afternoon in the garden.
When we moved into our house we discovered a huge clump of Trillium grandiflorum in a corner of the garden. I carefully planted Trillium sessile in a similar location and in the best soil in the garden. At the time I considered Trilliums to be rather special and exotic plants, deserving to be treated with respect.
Over the years I've discovered they have a mind of their own and will seed themselves in locations that — according to everything I've read about them — are too hot, too dry, too wet, too sunny and have poor compacted soil to boot. That's made me more adventurous in trying to divide and move them myself. The photos below will show you what I mean about their ability to grow in compromised locations.
Here's a Trillium grandiflorum seedling that is two or three years old growing on compacted clay in an area that sometimes gets flooded in major rainstorms. One of these years I will dig it out and move it. Or not.
Seedlings growing in the dry stream among the rocks. Not sure how far down the roots need to go before they hit dirt. And I mean dirt, not soil
This one's growing in a stone path that has weed barrier fabric under the gravel.
Looking past the above Trillium you can see its partner growing in gravel in the dry stream where it periodically gets flooded. Thus the same variety of Trillium but one growing high and dry and one water-logged half the time. I wish I could say the fact that Trilliums are seeding around the garden attested to my gardening skills but I have had nothing to do with their success.
I'm just trying to learn about their wants and needs by looking at the locations where they've decided to put themselves without my help.
When we turned on the pond for the first time this spring, the water got all foamy and bubbly as it rushed down the waterfalls. It was almost as if we'd put a drop of dishwashing liquid in it. It has taken a while but it seems like the water is finally getting its chemistry straightened out and is done with that quirky behavior.
But before it ended, Mark snapped a bunch of photos of this unusual event and I fell in love with the images he captured. As the water moved and swirled around in the pond the pattern kept changing.
It is easy to understand what you are looking at if you know the story. Otherwise I think these images have a very other worldly aspect.
To my eye they look like wonderfully evocative abstract drawings full of texture and layered marks.
Then again, sometimes they look like elaborate embroideries with lots of french knots and lace and crushed silk and sequins and who knows what all.
I took an art workshop — "Experimental and Expressive Drawing" — last Friday with Wisconsin artist Kay Brathol-Hostvet that made me want to set aside time to make artwork without waiting for gardening season to end. What my eye is seeing in these photographs suggests they are the perfect inspiration needed for me to get back to drawing and needlework.
Last year I posted this photo of Hellebores pushing up in my garden on the first day of Spring, March 20. I noted that the day was warm and sunny with very little breeze. I went out in the garden for almost six hours cutting back plants. The temperature eventually hit 60 degrees F. (15.55 C.) and I sighed over what a fabulous beginning to Spring it was.
I cut back a tremendous amount of Hellebore leaves. Most of them were still green after being buried by snow all winter.
Jump to this March and the weather and the scene are entirely different. No matter where in the garden I have Hellebores planted they all suffered the same fate. Lack of snow and extreme cold turned everything brown. The leaves finally got flattened with our February and March snows. Today's warmer temperatures and drizzle will hopefully melt the last of the snow holding the leaves splayed in place.
The beginning of warmer weather has finally melted the ice on the header pool. Sunday afternoon it was still completely frozen.
When I went out a few minutes ago to look around, it had opened.
The overnight temperatures are still below freezing according to the forecast for the next ten days. But a few more warm days should also get the ice off the big pond. This is what it looked like on Sunday afternoon.
And here's the view this morning. Despite the fact that brown is till the predominant color in the garden at the moment, the melting ice proves spring is moving forward — even if the pace seems imperceptible.
Or so the calendar tells us, though you can barely prove it in my garden. The buds on trees and shrubs are plumping and coloring up.
But there's still a thick coat of ice on the pond. While it started to melt at the edges with Sunday's temperatures rising into the low 50s, it still has quite a ways to go to be fully open. My records indicate that that typically happens from March 24 to the end of the month. Looking at it this morning, I would say that timetable is right on schedule.
But it is officially Spring today and I am ready to get out in the garden and do some cleanup. Most of all, I am ready to see some green tips pushing up out of the ground.
Thursday was unseasonably warm with a temperature of 50 degrees F. at 9:30 a.m. But it dropped hourly throughout the day until it was only 13 degrees F. when I went to bed at 10 p.m. Mark took these photos at noon when it was raining hard and still quite warm. The snow had disappeared, though the pond had a skim of ice under a layer of rainwater.