As we start the growing season the project is to make these posts more or less weekly in frequency but you know how reality gets in the way of good intentions. For whatever reason we know there are a gratifying number of green-thumbed people who take an interest in what happens in the garden here and we like to keep notes too as a future aide-memoire – so let’s get started in spring 2022. The snow has pretty well all gone and today it’s pouring heavy rain. It seems the ground is starting to soften up and the very first flowers of the year have come forth. Here is the first of the 2022 seasonal reports – plenty of photographs

New readers, start here:

Our suburban garden is, as most readers will know, primarily designed and managed to attract and support wildlife and native plants. We do have horticultural varieties such as lilies and a couple of roses but by far the majority of species are native. We consider boringly monoculture lawns to be a waste of space and need time spending on their care that can be used better elsewhere. Consequently we don’t have a lawn any more and what used to be a lawn is becoming more interesting year by year. If you like lawns then we won’t be criticizing, each to his own, but my you are missing some good things.

The first signs of snow diminishing were noticed about three weeks ago (16 March) when some very small patches of bare earth surfaced. The same day “our” Carolina Wren came to visit and sang happily from the branches of one of the birch trees. If you are not familiar with these toffee-coloured birds google a recording of their delightful songs – here is a good selection:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Carolina_Wren/sounds

The next day temperatures temporarily rose during the day and snow was visibly melting, albeit with plenty of melting still to do. Our snow gets really deep. One of the cute Chipmunks spent a lot of time scurrying about the deck cleaning up seeds fallen from one of our bird feeders. A day or two later overnight temperatures stayed slightly above freezing and the next day we ecstatically (this is an annually ecstatic occasion for us) we sighted the very first tiny snowdrop shoots under a Viburnum bush. The garden mammals began their spring chasing about and mating preparations – squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks all busily doing their seasonally appropriate things.

By the end of March we new that the Common Redpolls had departed northwards. The population of American Goldfinch seemed to have increased and small numbers of Pine Siskins were mixed in with them, possibly starting t go back north as well. Small numbers of Purple Finches too.

By the first week of April days were getting quite sunny and while those of you not living with Quebec winters would have thought it cold still we were almost considering shirt-sleeve weather had arrived.

The 5th was really warm and overwintering, unmated Mourning Cloak Butterflies were fluttering around and saying hello to each other. Today many of the Goldfinch have been exhibiting their newly yellow feathers – sherbet lemons, we call them – and the heavy rain is not putting them off at all. Small patches of purple and yellow crocuses have also popped up as a bit of welcome colour. Robins are quartering the ground ins earth of food hiding under dead leaves and singing their jolly songs too.

The garden itself, apart from the crocuses and snowdrops, is nothing much to look at today, as is normal. It’s wet and the ground is mostly brown with small patches of green after four months covered by snow. In the raised beds a few garlic shoots are appearing but that’s about it for now. New rabbit fencing has been ordered for the vegetable beds and serious planning is being directed towards the garden pond. Bird migration will really be getting under way in the coming weeks and on into May and the pond needs to be ready and the waterfall running in anticipation of their arrival because this, and the feeders, is where we see so many birds.

The problem is that a couple of years ago the pond developed a slow leak and needed topping up once or sometimes twice a week. The water level at the moment seems to have settled at about a foot down from full so presumably the leak is somewhere along that line but it’s going to be very hard to locate. The pond was installed a little over 20 years ago and frankly, a small leakage is not unexpected. The butyl rubber is not as flexible as when it was young. Ideally the pond should be relined but although I dug the hole and installed everything myself I was about 50 then and am 73 now so the large edging rocks the holed the lining down are not things that I should (wisdom tells me) attempt to move myself. I approached a contractor and was politely told that he couldn’t get a pond specialist to work for him this year and another friend in the business tells me much the same message – in fact he has got out of landscaping this year. There is a shortage of skilled labour. What I need is a couple of strong-backed students willing to work for beer. In the meantime I plan to install a float valve connected to a hose that will keep things topped up automatically.

Finally, the three season vegetable succession scheme has been finalized and seedlings ordered from our usual nursery. Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, lots of salad varieties, bunching onions, bush beans and so on. We won’t starve.

Now – this week’s pictures. (Click on any image to view them all in a larger format gallery with captions)