As this is my first post in 2021, Happy New Year! 2021 is off and running. We now have a pretty packed house at Coppertop, with five adults living here full time — and two large Labrador retrievers! I realize the gardens may suffer, but the dogs are a whole lot of fun. Introducing: Birdie and Walter. They moved here all the way from Virginia with their newlywed owners, our daughter and son-in-
We had some snow in mid-February. It wasn’t as much as we had during our Snowpocalypse exactly two years ago, but the gardens were peaceful and quiet beneath the white blanket for a few days.
We recently purchased five dwarf fruit trees. Our aging orchard has reached its peak maturity and some trees have been declining for a couple of years. Dwarf trees can be difficult to source, but their ease of care (think harvesting, pruning, maintaining, and protecting within an arm’s reach) make them an excellent choice for gardeners getting ripe in age. Coppertop gardens already feature full-size and semi-dwarf fruit trees, but these are the first dwarf trees, and we’ve already planted three of them. First, Hubby chopped down one of the old Yellow Transparent apple trees. I’ve written about these trees in years past, including here and here. We inherited two Yellow Transparents, and only use their super mild, super early apples for applesauce and baked goods, with leftovers juiced for cider. One of these large trees is plenty at 15×20′. In the chopped tree’s vacant spot we added a Cosmic Crisp apple (available in Washington State only) and a traditional and delicious Gravenstein apple. Both are superb for fresh eating, baking, and cider. Hubby also removed one of two D’Anjou pears which was leaning pretty severely and produced minimally in its advanced age. In its place we planted a dwarf Frost Peach, which is the only peach that fares well in our northern climate. The other two new dwarf trees, a Montmorency (tart) cherry and an Italian prune plum, are heeled into veg garden beds while awaiting planting. The full-size trees of identical varieties are on their way out.
The most invigorating task of all for me is the seed starting that’s been going on for well over a month in the garden shed. So far I’ve sown sweet peas (5 varieties), cosmos (2 varieties), stock (2 varieties), snapdragons (2 varieties), nasturtium (2 varieties), hollyhocks (2 varieties), larkspur, verbena, poppies (3 varieties), onions (4 varieties), peppers (2 varieties), and Swiss chard. My daughter and I also started four trays of corms of anemones (3 varieties) and ranunculi, all of which I moved to the greenhouse already. Next week I’ll begin the indoor veg sowing in earnest.
Witchhazel ‘Diane’ out front has been putting on a show, as has forsythia forced indoors. “Perennial” tulips plopped in the ground from their round pots directly after blooming last spring are now growing quickly (plenty of foliage, but we shall see if flowers return…), while first-year tulips have just broken through the soil in deck pots. This week the snowdrops are enjoying the sunshine and blue sky. Spring is most definitely on the way.