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Spring at last!


Finally had a day when I could get out and start some spring clean-up.  Got 
the oak leaves out of the front bed where they were smothering the bulbs.  I 
know you are supposed to wait before you remove mulch, etc., but oak leaves 
really do a job on small bulbs.  Unfortunately I discovered some of the effects of 
this miserably cold winter.  I seem to have lost my Santolina ericoides.  It 
was quite a large plant - about a two-foot spread - and must be at least 20 
years old.  I can't remember exactly when I got it, but I can place it that far 
back - maybe farther.  I was able to find two small stems with tiny green 
tufts of leaves, but most of it is totally dead.  I cut it all back except for the 
live stems, and hope there is enough life left for it to come back.  I am 
sorry to lose it - that has been a choice plant in the front of the bed beside 
the drive. Oh well.  
  When I got down into the back - it's been such an icy slope that I haven't 
been down there for a long time - I also found that I have lost a red-osier 
dogwood.  That's not quite as much of a loss as the Santolina, as it has always 
been pruned by the deer, but I'm sorry to lose it completely.  My  Berberis 
julianna looks pretty sick, too, but then it has never liked cold winters.  It 
must be at the edge of its hardiness range, for I know there are huge ones at 
the NY Botanical Garden about 40 miles south of us.
I have had this plant for more than 45 years, and when the winters are mild 
it looks pretty handsome, but it always suffers in hard winters.  
  Lots of things are beginning to come up.  Yellow, white and purple crocus 
are beginning to bloom.  I found a few Iris reticulata, and a couple of Iris 
danfordiae.  Even one dear pulmonaria has a bud. Some of my  crocus seem to have 
been bitten off right at the bulb level - I am thinking maybe voles or some 
other small creature is eating the bulbs.  There are several sections of the 
so-called lawn that have been dug or borrowed into.  I know a skunk has been 
around, and they dig in the lawn for grubs, etc., but usually not at this time of 
the year.
  When I got into the back garden I found the catnip was  putting up tiny 
leaves, so I picked a handful.  I tossed all the little leaves on the kitchen 
floor, thinking I would clean up later, and went to put away my tools.  When I 
returned in three or four minutes, what an orgy was going on!  Three of the four 
were rolling and twisting on the floor, purring loudly.  The fourth was 
standing by, trying to get her share but not finding a space.  When I came back 
after my  shower, thinking I would have to sweep up the remains, there was not a 
scrap of catnip remaining.
  Heard the peepers last night for the first time, and today the leopard 
frogs in the pond were making their quacking sound, so I guess spring is really 
about to be sprung.  Much as I look forward to our birding trip next week, I 
will hate to leave things here, except that I know it won't last.  We'll probably 
have another snow. It's supposed to rain and be colder over the weekend. Oh 
well.
Auralie - Z5

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