The worst of all garden pests

Jim McKenney
Mon, 09 Jan 2006 15:07:00 PST
Daytime temperatures hovered around 60 degrees F today for hours. One result
of the clement conditions was renewed activity by the worst of all garden
pests. And what would that be? How about a wriggly finger attached to a
bored, impatient gardener!

I couldn't help myself. I had to get out and see how everything was doing.
This is, of course, an excellent way to break fragile new sprouts, disturb
barely established root systems, dislodge labels, and leave little scent
markers to tell the squirrels and raccoons where to dig. In my time, I've
done all of that.

Still, curious minds want to know. Last August I received a treasure-trove
of bulbs from Jane McGary, and they all seem to be doing very well. I may be
counting my chickens before they hatch - before they freeze in fact - but
today things look very promising. Everything Jane has ever sent has arrived
in such good condition: thanks seem hardly enough.

And this year there is another supplier to whom I owe a big thank you. There
are some bulbs which, although long and sometimes widely offered, are very
difficult to acquire in good condition. The various forms of Erythronium
dens-canis are an example. Last fall a nice selection of the cultivars of
this species arrived from Odyssey Bulbs. Each bulb was packed in its own
little plastic zip-lock bag with a bit of sphagnum. I checked each bulb
today (they are potted individually in clear plastic cut-down soda bottles)
and each has a massive root system. I'm a very happy gardener today, and
very proud of my wriggly finger. 

Incidentally, don't jump to the conclusion that all Erythronium need to be
packed this way. Jane sends out her western American species dry in well
ventilated plastic bags - and the ones she has sent me have gone on to  grow

I'm having trouble typing because my finger is still wriggling. Tomorrow
I'll be out there again checking things out.

Some fall crocus are still in bloom (CC. medius, pallasii, longiflorus,
ochroleucus - hermoneus was still in bloom last week), C. biflorus
melantherus is blooming, Colchicum kesselringii is blooming, and bud color
is just barely discernable on Crocus korolkowii. 

The first of the late-winter-blooming witch hazels opened today, and the
first flower buds of garden hellebores are above ground.

Guess who has spring fever? 
What a year!

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, UDA, USDA zone 7, where my wriggly finger seems
to have a bit of truffle hound in it!

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