It seems like it never really got started — no ice on the ponds, a single snowstorm which melted away 24 hours later, no “arctic blast” to make you really love your woodstove and a cup of hot chocolate. Well then, If I can’t have winter I’ll just look forward to spring. The light was lovely this morning with mild temperatures and a sparkle of last night’s raindrops.
The Horridge Conservatory has a new, bigger, better, and very beautiful water garden, thanks to students of PLS 306, Landscape Management and Arboriculture.The Conservatory greenhouse has been in a state of “organized disarray” since July, when everything was pulled out for the reglazing work, including the existing water garden.
With a generous donation of their time, Earth and Water Landscapes owner Joe Mack and two of his employees walked the class through the steps of installing an environmentally friendly water garden. Everybody pitched in as Joe explained the “whys” of a successful water garden — one with sparkling clear water, beautiful plants, and healthy fish.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the Conservatory renovation, which will include not only the water garden, but a desert plant area, a tropical planting, and a large display of economically important plants, from coffee to cotton!
First, anticipation: I dream big about the possibilities of the growing season. I might find that perfect plant for my home garden (but where would I put it? I couldn’t wedge another plant in with a shoe horn!) I could buy that perfect plant for someone else who would love it. It’s great to see all the enthusiasm for gardening… everyone is a potential gardener in May!
Next, dread: The amount of work and the logistics of holding a plant sale. Will people show up? Will we raise money for the Botanical Gardens? Will we have the plants people want? Do we have enough change, enough signs, enough advertising, enough help?
Regardless of all the above, the Botanical Gardens will be holding it’s 2nd Annual Plant Sale this Saturday May 14th. The Greenhouse will be open from 8 AM to 2 PM and we will be here offering annuals, perennials, vegetables and more. Trees and shrubs from the Gardens and the Horticulture Program at URI will also be available. Screened compost can be purchased at this time as well. The greenhouse elves are busy bagging the compost right now!
All proceeds from our sales go to the upkeep of the Botanical Gardens and Horridge Conservatory, free and open to the public year-round. That way, you can get a plant you love and donate to a good cause at the same time. While you’re here, take a walk around the gardens and maybe see how that special tree you just bought actually looks in the landscape. The Azaleas are blooming, the Dicentra in the shade garden is at it’s peak, and the sweet fragrance of Viburnum carlesii / Koreanspice Viburnum is around every corner.
Find directions to the Greenhouse on the calendar page of our website, cels.uri.edu/uribg. (Click on the May 14th plant sale.) See you Saturday!
Watching the buds swell and open is a big part of spring for a gardener. In some ways, the buds are as wonderful as the flowers, the same way Christmas Eve can be as lovely as Christmas Day–anticipation, excitement, hope … I enjoy looking forward to the flowers as much as the flowers themselves.
Raking, pruning, and clean-up are all part of the fun but really, springtime is about greening and growing! The first picture is of Magnolia x loebneri ‘Donna’, planted on the shady side of the main garden, a little tree which happens to be very special to me. Although it was sadly vandalized last year (some *!@!!%!&! cut off the top 18 inches for a bouquet?!) it has a good number of fuzzy gray buds which will open to large white flowers, some with a tiny streak of red or pink at the throat.
The second picture is of yet another hellebore, this one Helleborus orientalis, the “Lenten Rose”. They are in the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) family, taller than last week’s H. niger, and a beautiful dark pink when fully opened. Here’s a picture of the same plant last year on March 17th :
Many buds are still so tightly closed that while I can admire their structure, they don’t shout “Spring!” quite yet. For example, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ … although it’s still more interesting to look at WITHOUT it’s leaves.
Last but not least, a tiny little Iris, Iris reticulata, the only clump with buds so far; the others are just pale green shoots, and anticipation.