Our neighbor's pond has, overnight, become its annual, throaty (froggy) self. Intense emanations of sound echo from the water's surface. It's time to get it on, the call says. The spiraea has green buds. The tansy has green shoots. The chokeberry buds are swelling....
Yesterday, during our second plus-70 degree day in a row, I trimmed up two river birch trees. They've been in the ground not even a year, but many many dead branches were on them. The clump birch probably because the nursery delivered the tree parched. That's not even a strong enough word. The single trunk birch because I either overwatered or underwatered it--apparently the symptoms are the same, a loss of lower leaves and branches.
I do HIGHLY recommend Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning. I needed to know how to make cuts, and when and on what plants. But I really needed to know how. Her advice, and humor, were spot on and I feel confident about my choices outside. I will forever remember the 2/3 rule--leave 2/3 of the canopy, and if 2/3 of the branch is dead just cut the whole thing off to avoid those little sprouts that go straight up.
I've also been searching for a small flowering fruit tree to grace the entrance to the garden and block out the neighbor's front porch. My results:
1) Dogwoods -- just too finicky, and need more shade than I can give them.
2) Redbud -- Me thinks they dost protest my clay too much, and may perhaps branch too low (I need them to clear 6' almost right at the trunk).
3) Crabapple -- here we go. 'Royal Raindrops' sounds delightful. Get's purple leaves early in the season, lovely red / purple flowers, red berries, interesting branch structure, adapts to clay, loves sun, very disease resistant (particulary to apple cedar rust--the neighborhood cedars do have rust). And its leaves are deeply-lobed so look like some laceleaf Japanese maple--perfect for my "Japanese" side garden. If I can find one. Otherwise I got backups.
I was also thrilled this week to discover on a blog--because they didn't notify me--that the literary journal Hayden's Ferry Review has nominated a poem of mine for the Pushcart Prize. Every journal and press can nominate just a few pieces of writing each year to this annual prize anthology, so it's cool. Really cool would be to get a prize. A fellow poet and UNL grad student was also chosen by the journal, same issue even. Go Nebraska.
Now it's time to get my hair cut and remove the winter mullet.