June 4, 2013

This Year . .

For four years the 'Mara des Bois' strawberries I planted have been disappointing. But not this year.

This year I have a bumper crop. I bring a bowlful like this in every morning.

I started these in 2009 in clay strawberry jars, and that didn't work out. I moved them to a long plastic container trough where they were too crowded. There were slugs, springs brought poor conditions for fruiting, they languished, I lost many plants, divided others, planted them out in the garden one year, and then dug them up and re-planted them along the gravel garden in 2011.

Finally in the gravel garden border they spread and sent out runners in 2012, and even produced a few berries that the chipmunk ate. I got about a half dozen strawberries over the summer. He got the rest.

But this year they are wondrous! The chipmunk is nowhere to be seen. What lush, vigorous plants. They taste the way strawberries tasted in my youth, nothing like supermarket strawberries. They are big, although 'Mara des Bois' is supposed to have very small fruit. I am beside myself with delight, but cannot explain the incredible bounty this year.

This year a random iris appeared in the middle of a garden where I had not planted irises. I don't know what kind it is or where it came from. I am pleased it popped up and I think it is so pretty, but I can't tell you how it got there.

This year the slender deutzia, Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' has bloomed like never before. This one plant is more upright and exploding than the others I have. Although they are all the same cultivar, the others form low, ground hugging carpets, covered in white blooms. This one plant stands right up and shoots out in all directions, about two feet high.

I tried pruning off the shooting upper branches to make it lower profile, and more like the other deutzia gracilis plants nearby, but it was having none of that. The plant just sent out replacement shoots in exactly the same explosion array. I cannot explain why this one plant is such a different shape and style.

This year the dappled willows (Salix integra 'Hakuro-nishiki') are the pinkest and billowiest ever. I dithered over pruning them, coppicing them, or what to do. I'd had less than happy results when they were left alone to grow into wild lumps in past years. And I had less than great results the year I coppiced them and they regrew awkwardly, without the salmon pink edged coloration.

But I did nothing this spring and now they have formed beautiful huge arching shapes, with leaves strongly tinged in pink and white. They bounce in the breeze. I can't tell you why this year they are finally such a beautiful shape and color.

This year the Blushing Pink knockout rose by the front door is covered in roses, with more buds to open. It has bloomed before, but not so hugely. I don't know why it took off this year so exuberantly.

The three visitors by the front door don't seem to know what's been happening this year either. They appear dismayed at all the unexpected turns of events this spring.

Like them, I can't explain it all, but unlike them, I am more delighted than alarmed.
 

46 comments:

  1. No need to worry about finding explanations, just enjoy! My knockouts are blooming the most they ever had, too, but I've assumed it was because of all the rain we've had. I love, love those willows!

    You have given me a craving for fresh-picked strawberries:)

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    1. Rose, Knockout roses are pretty reliable, but this year has been the best. I'm glad to hear yours are dazzling too.

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  2. Maybe it is your reward for the dreadful long winter you had. Can I come over for some strawberries?

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    1. Sarah, come have some strawberries and cream with me. Jim doesn't eat them, so I have too many for just myself : ) They don't keep, I have to pick them and eat them the same day.

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  3. I know, it's an amazing spring. My stuff all grew incredibly. How beautiful everything looks! Wish I had a bowl of those fabulous strawberries!

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    1. Larkspur, When Spring does it right, she does it right! It's great that your landscape is growing so well.

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  4. What fun and enjoyable surprises! And those strawberries look divine!

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    1. Kathryn, thanks. The strawberries are soooo good!

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  5. Laurrie, wonderful strawberries! Seem I feel the scent and taste of real strawberries. I love them with cold cream, and you?
    The deutzia is pretty, I tried to grow it but our climate is too cold.
    Happy gardening!

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    1. Nadezda, I love strawberries with vanilla ice cream. Yum. Too bad about the deutzia not growing in your climate -- it's such a pretty plant.

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  6. Holy wow on the Salix! I LOVE this shrub and yours look beyond awesome. I am dying to add more but fear the deer feasting on them. They are truly at their best with a slight breeze.

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    1. John, the salix is bounteously abundant. Deer leave mine alone, and they are right in the path from the pond up to the woods, so they pass by. I can't imagine deer doing much damage to this salix -- it has so many branches and they grow so quickly, recovery would be fast even if munched.

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  7. Best to just accept the gifts of the garden gods at face value. Rose's Berry Farm through Facebook status updates has announced the availability of fresh berries at their stand on Hebron Ave. I may have to take a drive soon.

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    1. Sue, yes, I truly am grateful to the garden gods this year. Enjoy some of those berries from Rose's!

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  8. I love it when you struggle with a plant and just before giving them the toss, you try one more thing and the plant loves it. Congratulations on you bounty of strawberries the ones in your photo look amazing! Don't you love how the things we grow ourselves taste so much better than store bought.

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    1. Rosemary, I do love having a plant perform just when you least expect it to carry on at all. Such a surprise, and so rewarding. Next year may be a bust, but this year has been great so far!

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  9. Your plants are obviously loved and well cared for! After reading this post, I wonder if I should try strawberries again. I have failed miserably several times in the past, but we buy a lot of strawberries. Laurrie, it seems I am always late catching up on my blog reading, but I just spent a while reading your last few posts, and I enjoyed the time immensely. Your garden is gorgeous!

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    1. Deborah, thanks so much -- glad you enjoyed several posts at once. I would have told you to forego strawberries last year, but this year all I can say is try growing them again. The reward is so great (but I had so many years of disappointment too.)

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  10. It's great to have so many unexplained but delightful turns out in the garden. It would be nice to know why, because that would help you in the future if you want to duplicate it. But it's also good to just enjoy it. Those strawberries look so luscious. I'm trying strawberries for the first time this year, and I have some just ripening now. Can't wait to taste them.

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    1. Alison, I am thinking the weather was just right this year for everything to maximize growing. We had a very, very dry and cold spring -- no rain, no warmth, and so all the fruiting and flowering things slept in. Then suddenly it got hot, and suddenly a lot of rain came just at fruit set and just when the flowers were ready to open. Must have been perfect conditions.

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  11. Those owls are adorable! How perfectly awesome that you have such happy, bountiful, beautiful plants!!! I love that an Iris just popped by to say hi and that your strawberry plants are giving you an abundance of fruit!! And the roses!!! WOW!!! So glad you left the dappled willows to do their thing cause my goodness are the gorgeous!!! Here is to happy successes!!!

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    1. Nicole, thank you! I would love to take credit for all these happy surprises and all the successes --- but it wasn't me. But how I enjoy it all : )

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  12. Your garden is having a great year so far! Especially gratifying about the strawberries, there are few things that taste better just after picking or that spoil faster on the way to the store. Your little deutzia is fabulous. I have a big old galumphing deutzia that desperately needs pruning, but I keep putting it off because it is hard to know where to start. And that willow is just so lovely!

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    1. Jason, I love the big galumphing deutzias this time of year near old houses and cottages. Along with the big bridal wreath spireas, they look so classic. Nikko truly is a little dwarf one, very low to the ground.

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  13. The willows are lovely. I am often tempted when I see them at the nursery. As for those strawberries, mmm, mmm.

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    1. Patty, if you are tempted, make sure you have room for one of these willows-- they get huge. And yes, I can attest, the strawberries are mmm mmm mmm.

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  14. I'm so glad the chipmunk is leaving the berries for you. Everything looks beautiful!

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    1. Heather, I cursed that chipmunk all last year and now I find I am a little worried about the little fellow. Where could he be?

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  15. Lucky you to have such a wonderful spring! If we didn't have these lovely surprises sometimes, maybe we'd give up gardening. The Deutzia sounds like it isn't the cultivar it is supposed to be. Maybe it's a mutation and you have a brand new cultivar! It looks like a really good one. I have never grown Deutzia of any kind, but I may give one a try after after seeing them on so many blogs this month.

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    1. Lyn, wouldn't it be great if my errant deutzia was something unique (and could be patented!) There is some sort of reversion gene in there, because it is trying in a small way to be big and arching like the huge wild cousins are.

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  16. First off...I'm SO JEALOUS of those strawberries...a bowl a day...sounds like heaven! Secondly, I wish I understood that variegated willow...I'm never sure what to do with mine!

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    1. Scott, the dappled willow has been a challenge for me too. Left alone, they were ungainly. Coppiced one year, they grew back oddly. This year is different for some reason --- maybe it's maturity (they are seven years old this summer.)

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  17. Hi Laurrie....all of your plants look wonderful. Don't you just love it when a plant appears and you didn't even plant it!! I actually had three of those mysteries this year...gotta love it!! I agree, there's something about this year that made the plants go crazy and whatever it is, I hope it keeps happening!

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    1. Christy, everyone is saying the same thing --- this year has been a remarkable spring for plants. Don't know why!

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  18. Holy cow! The gardening gods have definitely smiled on you this year. Tell your owlish visitors to buck up. They'll just have to get used to all the new exuberance ;)

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    1. Aaron, holy cow is right! And exuberance is the right word for this season this year!

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  19. How inspiring to have so much that surprises and delights. The spring of a lifetime is what it sounds like. And I left the state as it was cranking up. Ah, well, timing's everything. Enjoy!

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    1. Lee, yes, the best spring of this garden's short lifetime so far. You left just as our part of the world was getting in gear -- but arrived in your new home in time to start pondering its true summer potential!

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  20. What a wonderful post!! Maybe they all just needed time or moisture. I think your iris is a siberian iris called Cesar's Brother. I have him in my garden - the brother, not Cesar. :o) I'm glad you left the dappled willows alone. They are incredible! Sometimes our gardens need us less than we think they do. :o)

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    1. Tammy, you solved the mystery! This is why I love blogging -- when you said the iris looks like Caesar's Brother, I remembered that I had planted some Siberian iris in 2007, but they never did well. I had foliage, but no blooms, and then they disappeared. And after five years, they were long gone and I had forgotten all about them.

      But now, six years after planting, here it is. I do think this must be the Siberian iris I put in all those years ago. My, my. Plants are so weird. Thanks for the ID and for reminding me I once planted Caesar's Brother : )

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  21. I remember you debating about your willows. Isn't it funny how the year you do nothing they look their best. Even though it seems all I do is prune for a living (and we REALLY prune heavy!), I really try to leave a lot of plants in MY yard as un-pruned as I can. And you know what, a lot of them look best that way.

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    1. JIm, these willows look great unpruned this year. I do try to limb up and shape the new young trees I have, and I am making some shrubby plants into single stem trees (like Cornus mas and Viburnum prunifolium), but those actually take minimal pruning to get a single trunk. But I agree that a lot of woody plants really look more natural if left alone!

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  22. My advice, just smile and take credit for everything. It's a garden oops to do otherwise.

    We had a bumper crop of strawberries too this year, but they had enough room to stretch out and had a year to get established in their new place.

    I've always wanted to add 'Nikko' and 'Blushing Pink Knockout' to my garden and not sure what I'm waiting for. The willows look fabulous too.

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    1. Sweetbay, I think you are right about the keys to strawberry success -- room to stretch out (mine had been too crowded before), and a year to settle in! Definitely get yourself the Nikko deutzias and that pretty Blushing PInk knockout rose, they both will fit your landscape beautifully.

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  23. Your garden is exceptionally lush and bountiful with fruit and flowers.

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