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The iris ‘Hello Darkness’ opened its first bloom of the season this morning. It’s been chewed on by something since spring began, and I assumed it was slugs. This spring has been pretty dry and today we finally had a storm that’s been building for two days; the first rain in at least two weeks. After the storm I found a lot of snails on this iris.

This was a bit of a surprise, because I’ve never had a problem with snails before – the birds usually get them, so it’s the slugs I battle with. But as I was leaning in to pick them off, I noticed the flower was fragrant – which I certainly hadn’t noticed last year. It was a pleasant surprise.

The spring weather has made some unusual combinations. This spring was pretty cold before suddenly going warm, so it really has felt as though we went straight from winter to summer. The cold beginning meant that many plants and flowers were held back, and when it turned hot and everything suddenly started growing…there was no rain. The Siberian iris ‘Blue King’ has only just started budding out blooms.

In another first, the rabbits have been attacking the tulips. The little buggers just nipped the flowers off neatly and left them on the ground. Every single one of my new ‘Paul Scherer’ tulips got deadheaded prematurely. The ‘Paul Scherer’ is a new “black” tulip I planted last fall to compare to the’Queen of the Night’ tulips, which I’ve had a long time. Honestly, I’m hard pressed to find much of a difference other than the ‘Paul Scherer’ opened a day earlier. Perhaps in future seasons when they’re better established, more growth differences will become apparent, but the two varieties seem very similar in appearance.

What else…there seems to be a lot of dieback on the elder bushes (Sambucus canadensis). Winter was mild, so I doubt it’s that. I wonder if I’m seeing the effects of two dry springtimes in a row?

The western blue clematis (Clematis occidentalis) finally seems to be getting on with it. This is the third season I’ve had it, and the last couple years it didn’t seem to do much except sit there; last year there were maybe two flowers. This year it’s finally putting on some decent growth and starting to scramble up. There were three or four flowers earlier in the season.

I planted out the blue corn and the lemon cucumbers yesterday. Normally I would wait another week before planting those out, but as I said, the weather has been hot and there’s no expectation that will change. The first of the tomatoes (San Marzano) went out a few days ago; the rest (Black Krim and *ahem* Hans Gelbe Topftomate) will go in containers. I think the few radishes should be ready for picking in a week or so, and then I will sow sugar beets in that spot. I need to check if rabbits will attack arugula before planting any in the ground; right now they’re all in pots.

This Saturday is my Master Gardener group’s spring plant sale…guess who looks after the plants before the sale? Tomorrow we take the plants to the venue and set everything up. i don’t mind hosting the plants (if nothing else, it means I get first pick of anything that comes in), but it will be a relief to get it all gone.

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