Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Preparation for Spring Continues

Spring officially arrives tomorrow, which is not a day too soon as far as we are concerned.  This past Saturday was delightful here in the Mid-Atlantic with high temperatures at 61 degrees.  Sunday was not so great.  It was cold and cloudy and I believe our top temperature was 43 degreees.  A huge difference in the span of 24 hours.  Yesterday we got what we hope was one last blast of winter.  We had snow flurries all day in the District of Columbia and the eastern suburbs of Maryland where we are located on Crest Avenue.  As was the case two weeks ago, the western suburbs in Virginia received several inches of snow.  The line dividing areas with snow and areas without snow this year has been positioned very oddly with the northern and western parts of the beltway covered in snow and the southern and eastern part of the beltway only wet with sprinkles of rain or snowflakes which melt on contact.  Very strange.

I spent majority of the day last Saturday cleaning up the back yard including the seating areas.  At some point, I took a break and ran to Home Depot to pick up a few more things to help prepare for spring and summer.

A box of pink mixed Caladiums.  These need a shady spot and I have scoped out the perfect location for them.  You do not want to get these in the ground too early.  Ideally, the soil should be 70 degrees when these are planted.  Will I wait until it is at exactly 70 degrees?  Probably not.  But it is much too cold today to plant them.  They can be left in the ground in our zone but will need to be covered with a thick blanket of mulch in the fall.  Zones further north should probably raise them for the winter months.

I have no idea where these will go.  The picture is just so beautiful on the package I couldn't help myself.  I do not think I will be happy with these growing in a container.  They should be planted in the ground.

These giant arborvitae balls will be perfect in the planters on either side of the front entrance to replace the dead topiaries I planted there last year.  You will remember a few weeks ago I admitted that I chose topiaries for these two planters that were not intended to be left outside during the cold winter months.  I removed them.  These will go in the planters and then trimmed by hand to a form that is pleasing and in appropriate relation to the size of the planters.

We already have a whiskey barrel in the outdoor cocktail lounge area in the back.  We will be adding two additional whiskey barrels to this area this year.  All three barrels will be planted with tall, upright grasses which will give a very ethereal feel to the space.  Only the slightest breeze will bring gentle movement to the grasses.  This area has been difficult to design properly.  With the addition of these and the grasses it will take on a whole new feel this year.  The two extra-wide, zero-gravity lounge chairs arrived last week and are in place and ready for the season to start.  These chairs are large enough for two people to occupy.  Or for one person to occupy with a miniature, wire-haired dachshund named Baxter.  He has already checked them out and he approves.  We will have to get pictures of that in the upcoming weeks.

The final item we purchased this week was the Miracle-Gro Shake 'n Feed containers.  I was able to get these both applied on Saturday.  I have used these for years with wonderful results.  The sooner in the season you can get it applied, the better.  Another application in late July or August helps to keep everything looking vibrant.

I would say we are well prepared for spring weather to arrive at this point.  The extended forecast states that this week and weekend will be chilly; not at all spring-like.  In the low to mid-30's at night and high 40's - low 50's during the day through the next 10 days.  Not great conditions for working outdoors.  We will see what comes and deal with whatever mother nature hands us.  We're just glad that we have taken advantage of these weeks before spring weather arrives to prepare so that when it gets here, we are ready to get started with our gardening duties.
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