HELEN LANG: Some gardens still sleep

Just back this afternoon from a visit with my brother in Cedar, just a few miles south of Nanaimo.

Just back this afternoon from a visit with my brother in Cedar, just a few miles south of Nanaimo. The drive down the Island was pretty exciting with many miles of the trip half obscured by fog.

Most drivers are clever enough to drive with their lights on, which makes them a lot easier to see, but the odd one without lights is enough to give you a nasty thrill as we breathlessly  sweep past one another. However I am home and I’ve called to see if they are OK and they, too, are safely home.

It was interesting to see his garden, still sleeping with only the odd daffodil leaf-tip above ground. No sign of the tulips I gave him and planted last fall. Our mother used to say that she figured that Victoria was about 10 days to two weeks ahead of Qualicum Beach where we lived years ago. Judging from the local daffodil foliage she was right.

One garden I pass when out walking has daffodils with buds poking up, which is a happy sign of spring’s imminent arrival. And, oh joy, there are polyanthus blooming and my precious potatoes seem to be doing well — if I can judge from their big handsome leaves. I still haven’t felt under the soil to see how big the spuds are. No use pushing my luck but one of these days I’m going to chance it, and of course, will boast about it.

While in Cedar I found one of my brother’s wife’s gardening books devoted to bulbs and found it interesting the number of bulbs you can plant in the spring: things like lilies, dahlias, gladiola, anemones and many others which we can discuss in the coming weeks.

My brother’s wife, poor soul, died some years ago, so Herb gave me the book. I’ll return it as his daughter would probably enjoy it and find it useful.

Of course not everyone is as hung-up on gardening as some of us, eh? Poor misguided souls!

My magnificent white amaryllis has only one bloom left alive and it was the last bud, so I’m going to fertilize it with 20-20-20 and water it well in preparation for re-building the bulb’s strength for next fall’s blooming period. It’s too early to put it outside but it could go out in late March.

In the meantime, be patient. Those immense long leaves are too important to slice them back to a reasonable size just yet.

Hide it, and its pot, behind the chesterfield, but where it will still get good light (move the chesterfield if you have to). All this unwelcome advice may be ignored, of course (I won’t tell, if you won’t).

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

Victoria News

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