Hi Friends!

My fingers felt cold, but my heart was warm. The beginning of a new garden season is always one of my happiest moments of the year. I just love new beginnings! So, I headed out early this morning wearing my winter jacket, a warm hat… and a colorful, new pair of garden gloves. πŸ™‚Β  It would have been much more sensible to wait for the warmth of the afternoon, but I woke up with ‘garden fever’ today. The thermometer read 43 degrees as I headed out the door.

Although I have been walking through my Midwest garden almost daily for the past month enjoying sneak peeks of Springtime, today I fully embraced the 2018 garden season and jumped right in. A few hours of gardenkeeping was the perfect way to welcome my favorite season! Again this year, I am documenting the small moments spent in my perennial and herb gardens in my Garden Joys journal. The day-to-day changes in the Springtime garden are so exciting. Each tiny sprout or blossom feels like a celebration! I’m so grateful that there are enough blank pages to continue writing in last year’s journal.

The Magnolia bed, near the front porch, was my first destination. As I carefully cut back all of the dried stems and seed heads, I thought about how much I enjoyed the ‘shadow garden’ they created.Β  While I shoveled during our snowy February days, I was able to enjoy sweet memories of last year’s garden. The dried seeds provided food energy for the birds and squirrels. The dried leaves of the daylilies also made plentiful nesting material. Although we raked lots of leaves last October, our Magnolia tree always waits until long after we have put away our rakes for the season, then drops all of its large leaves at once onto the perennial bed beneath it.

As I worked, I was mindful not to step onto the soil in the garden bed. A few Yoga stretches and an occasional arabesque helped me reach across the bed to rake the leaves without causing soil compaction. Walking on the damp soil in the Springtime affects the top six inches of the soil, making it difficult for the roots. Water just runs off compacted soil instead of soaking in. Adding a layer of mulch also helps to prevent soil compaction because it attracts worms that help break up the soil.

As I raked away the curled, dried leaves, I uncovered the most wonderful green surprises. The Spring bulbs have been vigorously producing beautiful, green foliage beneath their warm, leafy blanket. The daffodil buds are growing larger each day. Just a hint of bright blue is peeking up from the heart of the Siberian squill foliage. Surely, it won’t be long now…

While very carefully gathering the leaves for composting, a flash of deep purple caught my eye and took my breath away. The Iris reticulata were in full bloom today! They are always the very first blossoms in my Springtime garden. There *may* have also been a little Happy Dance in the garden. It happens every year! πŸ™‚

As I continued to carefully rake leaves and snip dried stems, I reflected on all of the digging and transplanting that was going on at this time last year. I am so thankful that I eliminated several perennial beds last Spring as I worked to ‘right-size’ my garden. This year, I will most certainly enjoy the abundant blessings of a more manageable garden. “Less is more” continues to be my mantra in all areas of my life. Less work means more joy! Another flash of color caught my eye as I moved the leaves and spotted a delicate, white crocus. (A peek back in my Garden Joys journal reveals that these bulbs are blooming one week later than last Spring.)

The front porch needed a touch a Springtime, as well. So, I composted the dried Annabelle Hydrangea blossoms, seed heads, and holly-leaf Mahonia aquifolium branches that have filled an antique wooden box, since my final days in the garden last November. I put away the antique sled decked with dried Hydrangea, and a pretty basket filled with dried garden gatherings. Next, it was time to fill a vintage watering can with Forsythia branches to force their early yellow blossoms. A colorful pair of floral rainboots now stands near the front door, just in time for April showers. I also carried out a twig basket planted with muscari bulbs that spent the Winter in our unheated garage. Very soon, we should have a delightful basket of Springtime blooms on the front porch!

Although the next few days will bring clouds, rain, and possibly snow flurries, my heart will be warmed by the memories of a few hours in the garden… and new beginnings!

Wishing you a very Happy Easter!

Thanks so much for stopping to visit today. β™₯β™₯


Springtime blessings!

β™‘ Dawn

P.S.Β  I have a question for all of our gardening friends. What kind of mulch do you use in your garden beds?







41 thoughts on “Beginnings

  1. Your spring is just beginning, mine is almost over. Some years I swear it only lasts two weeksπŸ˜ƒ I start in February trimming back roses and salvia and grasses and cleaning up my beds. Everything is very late this year. Even my barn swallows and humming birds were over 2 weeks late. Mom has transplanted some of her tomatoes into the garden. This weekend I will get the cages around them and wrap them in plastic to protect them from the wind. She is happy as a clam to be back in her garden. In my flower beds I use native Texas hardwood mulch, in mom’s vegetable garden she uses mostly leaves. I remember one time many years ago, Jim and I were visiting friends in Georgia and we brought back bales of pine needles and I mulched all my beds in that. I loved the look and the smell was heavenly.
    I am glad your weather cooperated a little so you could go out and get your hands dirty!
    A little quote I saw that tickled me β€œ a garden is never so good as it will be next year” Thomas Cooper
    Hope your weather holds!

    • It’s so amazing, Chris, to think that you have been working in your West Texas garden since February! It’s interesting that both the plants and the birds are late this Spring. I just love how you and your mom are able to garden together. Gardening keeps us young and young-at-heart!

      I’ve been using Cypress mulch over the years. I love the simple, rustic look, but it just doesn’t last very long. So, I’m thinking about trying something different.

      How is your herb garden? My herbs are still sleeping. So, I will wait a bit longer before cleaning there. The white picket fence will hide the messy herb beds for a while. πŸ™‚

      I’ll have to add your great quote to my Garden Joys journal. Wishing you and your whole family a Happy Easter! It’s always such fun to exchange gardening news with you, Chris! β™‘

    • I feel the same, Mrs. Craft. After a long Winter, just two tiny blooms can make my heart sing! Wishing you many happy Springtime surprises in your garden, too! Thanks for stopping by to visit today. β™‘

  2. Aww I enjoyed your sneak peek Dawn. It’s reminding me that I need to don the gardening gloves and camera and maybe only just get some light work done. Although it’s supposed to hit 70 here today, I think temps dip again next week. It’s been a yo yo kind of winter. Isn’t it the best feeling when you see everything come up and hiding beneath? It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. When I volunteered in a nearby garden, we just used leaf mulch around the beds, it adds a lot of nutrients to the soil. Happy Gardening!

    • Kindred spirits, Loretta! Year after year, the feeling never gets old. It always feels like a miracle when tiny plants with delicate blossoms emerge after our frigid Winter months. I’ve been adding a bit of leaf mulch and topping with a layer of Cypress mulch in my garden for thirty years. I’m wondering if there might be a better option for me. I hope you do begin slowly, Loretta. It will feel more like playing in the garden! Enjoy your nice, warm day and all of the Springtime surprises in your path! It’s always so nice to hear from you, Loretta! β™‘

  3. Your spring spirit is like a beautiful song. Garden journaling is so much fun. I love putting mini statues of buddha or a small fairy statue among the bunch of tropical plants. I also love drying up the spring flowers so that later I can use it up in my journal. I love visiting your spring garden. It filled my heart with joy. Happy gardening β™‘
    Hugs Ricky ❀

    • We are kindred spirits living on two separate continents, Ricky! I’m so glad that you could feel my love for Springtime in this post. Last year was my very first year to keep a garden journal all season long. It is such a gift to look back in my journal… and to look ahead! I’m excited to make a few more small changes in my garden this year. I love the special touches you add to your journal and your garden!

      Ricky, have you tried Bullet Journaling? I began in January and love, love, love the impact it has had upon my days! πŸ™‚ You might enjoy it, too. Wishing you and your mom happy days in your beautiful, tropical paradise! Namaste, Ricky. β™‘

      • Yes I do a lot of journaling including bullet journal. Maybe I will share some in my next blog. Journaling is so therapeutic. Thank you Dawn for such lovely words. wish you too a lovely summer ❀

      • It’s so nice to hear from you today, Ricky! Spending a bit of time writing in my Self-Care bullet journal every evening truly feels like a little ‘gift’ to myself. It really keeps me motivated as I track my healthy habits! I love sharing this little journal with friends, hoping that they will be inspired to try bullet journaling, too. Can’t wait to share my July pages! I would love to ‘peek’ into your bullet journal, Ricky! Wishing you happy Summer days, too!πŸ’—

      • 😊 So much serendipity today, Ricky! At the very moment that your comment arrived, I was sitting on our front porch, sipping tea, and reading your newest blog post. I love the wisdom of your words. You are wise beyond your years, dear heart! I didn’t learn these important lessons until I was much older than you. One must make time for a little ‘Vitamin ME’ each day. Hope you are enjoying a lovely day, too, Ricky!πŸ’—

  4. What a lovely, uplifting post this is. I can feel your energy and understand your anticipation, Dawn. Our little acreage is in great disarray, but, it is what it is and will be slowly taken care, but, first, like you, I wander, carefully, stepping over and around and across. πŸ™‚ Your iris is gorgeous, as are your other early blooms. My daffodils hugging the house have buds, but, they are waiting for warmer days. The outer rims haven’t shown tips YET.
    I use bark chips in some areas for mulch. We have so many leaves that they serve as a natural mulch through winter and early spring.

    • Oh, Penny! We are both so passionate about gardening. I know you are feeling the same as our gardens begin to wake up! I know it’s a bit early to begin gardenkeeping, but April and May will be extra busy for me in other ways. So, I’m trying to get bit of a headstart this year. I’ve been watching for my little Iris to bloom. (It’s a special reminder of a special friend!) Each day I would check the foliage, just waiting for a blossom. So, I was absolutely delighted to find a bright spot of color on the day that I planned to start cleaning up the front yard beds.

      I am already noticing the blessings of a ‘right-size’ garden. There may be a few more tweaks as the year goes on. For now, I’m just pacing myself and happily playing in the dirt as the weather permits. Penny, do the bark chips last for more than one year in your perennial beds? I have always used cypress mulch and find myself buying more every Spring. (My little car can only carry six bags at a time, so I make many trips!) So, I really appreciate hearing everyone’s suggestions!
      Wishing you a lovely Easter celebration, dear Penny! Sending warm hugs ~ from me to you. β™‘

      • Dawn, the bark chips do last longer, but, they can be hard to work around all the leaves that settle. I like the cypress mulch, but, my favorite is the cocoa chips. THOSE are dangerous – I always want to bake brownies. πŸ™‚ Actually, I haven’t used those in quite a few years.

      • I just can’t decide, Penny. I’ve always been drawn to the look of the Cypress. It makes me think of a simple, rustic, old-fashioned garden. I’m feeling like it might be time for a change. Since I like all of the mulch to match in all of the garden beds, Spring is the perfect time to ask everyone about their favorites.

        Oh, Penny! I have been trying so hard to resist cocoa chip mulch for years!! It would definitely be dangerous!! The garden is one of the few places that I never feel hungry. πŸ™‚ Just imagine the squirrels and bunnies (and me) frolicking in cocoa chips! It would be fun, though! Hmmm…
        Big hugs, my friend! β™‘

  5. Dawn, you are always a breath of fresh air. I love your enthusiasm for life. I’m so glad you got out into the garden, even as it was still quite cold. What fun to discover those bulbs showing up through the dried leaves. I’m glad to hear that you’ll keep a garden journal once again, and I hope we get another sneak peak at your pretty pages.

    As for mulch, it varies. I use the smallest redwood chips for the native and perennial garden. Last year I let the leaves drop around some of the trees and left them in place. I also raked up leaves from our Chinese Pistache and used them to mulch the curb garden.

    • Such a sweet thing to say, Alys! Imagine being away from your garden for three or four months each year. I love all four of our seasons here, but Spring always feels like a fresh, new beginning to me! From the time I became a gardener, it has been my very favorite season. So, small moments in the Springtime garden always create BIG memories for me!

      I was so fortunate that the weather cooperated with my gardening plans yesterday. (Full disclosure: Garden allergies to leaf mold have me sneezing and quite miserable today. In the Fall and Spring, while raking up the dried leaves, I must remember to wear a mask. In my enthusiasm yesterday, I forgot. So, it feels good to have a quiet day inside today.) Thanks so much for sharing your favorite types of mulch with us. I’m sure good mulch is key during times of drought in California. Your garden beds always look so nice, too. Your curb garden is one of my favorites! Wishing you the kind of Springtime days in your garden that make your heart sing, dear Alys! Happy Easter! β™‘

    • May your basket be filled with sunshine, colorful blossoms, and warm memories, sweet friend! Happy Easter to you, Mike, and the boys! β™‘

    • Happy Springtime, Aquila! To me, those tiny, early Spring blossoms are as beautiful as an entire garden in bloom on a day in August. They fill our souls with hope! Just think about the extreme circumstances that they have endured all Winter long. They are so precious that I could never pick them. So glad that you stopped to say “Hello” today, Aquila. Wishing you days filled with sunshine! β™‘

  6. Beautiful shots of spring in all its flory. I still have snow on several beds so can’t do much yet except dream. πŸ™‚ Mulch is an interesting topic for sure. Having just left SC, they use a lot of pine needles, and it is quite handsome looking. I use to use a nice dark colored mulch that was $35-40 a yard, but we have so big an area to cover, it became cost prohibitive. Once when my husband was there, the guy asked him why we didn’t use wood chips that were $10 a yard. I didn’t have a good reason because from the road it looks the same as light colored mulch, and it deteriorates exactly like the expensive stuff. So, for about the last five years I’ve been using wood chips. Sometimes when he has too much, he gives it to my husband for free. In the volume I need, free is good. πŸ™‚

    • Welcome home, Judy! Dreaming is one of the best parts of gardening. Everything is possible when we dream!(There are no weeds!:) ) Garden dreams warm our hearts when it is not quite warm enough outside. As the last of the snow melts, you can ease into the new gardening season.

      I love hearing your thoughts on mulch, Judy! The beds beneath our towering pine trees are automatically mulched with falling pine needles. The squirrels help top dress the beds by munching on pine cones and leaving the woody bits behind. Those are my easiest garden beds! πŸ™‚ It’s good to know that both expensive and less expensive mulch varieties deteriorate at the same rate. A few times, the arborist has dumped a big pile of wood chips from our own trees. Free is definitely good, especially when you have so many garden beds to mulch, Judy! We are so fortunate that Master Gardeners, like you, share your gardening experience with us all here. Many thanks! Enjoy a lovely Easter celebration with your family! β™‘

  7. I just smiled to myself as I enjoyed reading (finally) your sweet gardening journal, Dawn! I have been out, too, more eager than ever to begin the season of gardening. I haven’t seen a true sign of our squill that blankets the narrow gardens in front of our picket fence…bunnies or chill? Transplants I made in October seem to be doing fine and the snowdrops are becoming my darling favorites. I do love how they quickly clump and look as if they are all dearest friends, chatting and huddling close in the frosty weather. I love the fines bark mulch that covers thoroughly but gently and breaks down nicely over the seasons. Several nurseries in the area carry it by the bag…i haven’t ordered it in bulk. Happy Easter, Friend!

    • Kindred spirits, Louise! I will walk past your garden to watch the Spring show blossom! Hopefully, it is just the chill that is delaying your squill along the picket fence. I must invite some snowdrops to my Springtime garden party! I love your description and have made note in my garden journal to add some bulbs in the Fall. Last Spring, I watched diligently for the emergence of so many of my transplanted perennial favorites. I know exactly how you feel! Fortunately, they all survived and flourished in their new beds. So, I think your transplants will be happy, too! I will email you to find out the exact name of the mulch you love. I buy mulch by the bag, too. Wishing you happy days in the garden, dear Louise! Happy Easter! β™‘

  8. Oh, I love the discoveries in your garden! Mine has yet to spring to life. It’s very difficult for me to get out there now, but will try to check on it soon! I LOVE SPRING and you have just made me smile today! New life…nothing better!

    Blessings and Happy Easter,

    • Springtime greetings, Gert! It’s soooo nice to hear from you this morning! When the weather warms up, you will be able to celebrate Springtime in your garden. In the meantime, let’s share my garden! πŸ™‚ Brew a cup of tea and wander through the photos. Just click on the Petals category in my blog Archives to pull up all of my garden posts. Sending sunny wishes, from me to you, as we enjoy our favorite season together. New beginnings are the best!
      Easter blessings, dear Gert! β™‘

  9. I hear the heart of a gardener yearning for Spring, dear Dawn. I love seeing the plants come through what seems like a harsh winter and bloom gloriously. .Your early bulbs are lovely! I am imagining how excited you are to see the earth again after your snow melt. You are quite lucky to have all of that wonderful moisture nourish your gardens for the days ahead. Thank you for sharing your process as you record your progress in your lovely journal. We are warming up finally here in VA. Eight wheel barrow loads of compost have been applied to our gardens this week. Thank goodness for a strong grandson to help with that! We have shredded hardwood mulch applied to certain areas of our gardens on a rotating basis. This year we will concentrate on the back area that has told us it no longer wants to grow grass, so it will receive the majority of the mulch. Enjoy yourself as you find more treasures popping up in your Spring garden! Sending Easter blessings to you and John. β™₯

    • The yearning is so strong at this time of year, Martha Ellen! I know that you feel it, too! This morning I took a walk around the park admiring lots of Spring blossoms sprinkled throughout the gardens there. When I walked through our garden afterwards, I spotted a happy cluster of purple and white crocuses dancing in the bright sunshine. So heartwarming! The daily changes in the garden are just delightful at this time of year. We are very grateful for all of the moisture we have had so far. April showers are just around the corner, as well. Were your snowfall totals more than usual this winter? I watched the weather map each time a Nor’easter passed through.

      I’m so happy to hear about all of your progress in the garden already. What a blessing to have Samuel’s strong muscles to move so much mulch. I know that he is proud to help out! Thank you for sharing your favorite type of mulch with us, Martha Ellen. I think I should visit the garden center in the next week or so. I’m so thankful for the strong helpers there that can easily lift six heavy bags of mulch into the trunk of my small car. I usually know them on a first name basis after several visits for more mulch. 😊 I’ve learned how to easily ‘flip’ the heavy bags out of the trunk and wheel them to each garden bed. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Wishing you and Grayden a lovely Easter celebration, dear friend! Sending sunny hugs across the miles!πŸ’—

    • You are just so kind, Brenda! I always love reading your thoughts and reflections as you sit at your desk and write. 😊 I often find great book titles when I visit, as well. Hope all of your snow has melted and that your beautiful garden will reward you with glorious Springtime colors! Sending sunny thoughts from the Midwest! Wishing you a lovely Easter celebration! πŸ’—

  10. Dawn, just for your own information I googled pros and cons of cypress mulch and copied this link for you. While I have used cypress mulch in the past, this is exactly the reason I stopped using it. If you can find shredded pine mulch in your area it would be a much better alternative or any shredded hardwood mulch. You mentioned it doesn’t last long. By it’s nature, mulch is meant to decompose and amend the soil, so I do have to add mulch to my flower beds every year. I hope this helps and I wish you a lovely gardening year and a Happy Easter.

    • Oh, Chris! I can’t thank you enough for your very wise advice and the helpful link! I will most definitely make a better choice for mulch from now on! You have reminded me of the wisdom shared by Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can, and when you know better do better.” A few years ago, while visiting a beautiful bog, I learned about the dangers to our ecosystem caused by harvesting peat from bogs. From that moment on, I stopped using peat moss to amend the soil in my garden beds. Thank you for taking the time to do some research and send a link. It feels like the friends who gather here are virtual Girlfriends’ Garden Club chatting by the garden gate. πŸ™‚ I always learn something new in the wonderful, thoughtful comments shared here. πŸ™‚
      I can already tell that it will be a nice gardening year. Hope that you are looking forward to nice days in your garden, too. Sending sunny thoughts and big hugs, dear Chris!

  11. I have been venturing out on occasion to clear the weeds. We have lots of those small based with taller stems that have some kind of a flat seed at the top and when you touch the weed to pull it, they go flying everywhere to plant more weeds. All the hyacinth are spent and we are eventually going to get warmer. It will be 70 one day and 40 the next. I use a dark hemlock mulch that I have trucked in and spend days spreading. Maybe not this year though. I still have plenty from last year. Gardening on a smaller scale these days. Getting old. πŸ˜‰ Your garden will be lovely once more and I love that quote one of your readers posted. πŸ™‚ Have a wonderfilled week.

    • β€œSo many weeds, so little thyme,” Marlene! I have a little sign with these words ~ and they are so true! Your garden in Oregon is several weeks ahead of mine. Here the Hyacinth foliage is just peeking through. We have a cold, rainy day with snow expected overnight. We are both so fortunate to have other interests that we love when we can’t be in the garden! I love the quote that Chris shared, too. 😊 It will be such fun to include it in my Garden Joys journal. Thank you for always being here, Marlene. Warmest hugs!πŸ’—

  12. aw, thank you for this sweet spring garden tour. In temperate Oregon our spring began a month ago but its been slow. I’m awaiting the barrels of tulip bulbs to show some color and send our yard over the top with the pink and red azaleas adding their color boost. Your ending card is the cherry on the top of a great post. Until later

    • Welcome, Vikki! I’m so happy that you stopped for a visit. Very soon there will be a ‘garden party’ of Springtime color in your yard! What a wonderful moment to await! A-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n! πŸ™‚ Hope you will have your camera ready to capture all of the beauty. Our Midwest Springtime temperatures have dipped back into the 20s-30s this week, rather than our average 50s in April. We had a dusting of snow yesterday and expect more snowflakes this afternoon. Last week, I clipped a big bunch of Forsythia branches, hoping to force their blooms in a vintage watering can on the front porch. This week, they are sitting in a frozen blog of ice. Try as I might, I just can’t hurry Spring along! My perennial and herb gardens are constantly teaching me about patience. Such a valuable lesson in all parts of life!
      Heartfelt thanks for your kind words, Vikki! It was a fun card to make. Sometimes we just have to create our own Springtime… while we wait! Sending sunny thoughts across the miles! β™‘

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