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Spring Has Started!


For the past two weeks I’ve been charging around saying I’m willing to bet real money that when the snow melts, there will be inch-tall snowdrops and crocuses already up and just days away from blooming.

It’s still too early to start collecting my money, but today, the icicle that once cascaded a full 3 feet down from the front porch gutter has vanished, and all that’s left is a steady drip-drip from the melting roof. The front yard garden is still blanketed with 2 feet of snow.

But one plant is already getting ready to break dormancy. As I ambled back from mailing some bills at the corner mailbox, I stopped by the front fence to take a peek at my ‘Jens Munk’ rose, a rugosa hybrid that is one of the Canadian Explorer series, developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba. Already this gives you two clues to its hardiness — originating in Canada and part rugosa.

Although my‘Jens Munk’ rose currently looks like a collection of dead brown sticks, in June it will be bedecked with semi-double pink blossoms.(Photo by Ron Capek)

And sure enough, as I bent for a closer look, I spied teeny red buds marching up and down the otherwise dead-looking brown canes. That plant is alive (!!!) I realized, and already it’s charging up for the show ahead. So courage, mes amis. Life is going to get better.

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questions

From what I have read, hellebores are supposed to spread. I have a few I planted four years ago, and they seem to be the same as when I planted them. They are planted in a bed of vinca. Should I remove more vinca that surrounds them? I do fertilize them and protect them with a winter mulch. What else should I be doing to have more plants?

I have a dampish area with poor grass and moss that I would like to change to ground cover, but if I have only one plant, won’t it be boring? Can I get rid of the grass in winter or early spring?

Is it possible to plant and grow Italian cypress in the Chicago area? Are our winters too severe for it? If they are, is there an alternative conifer that will provide a similar look?

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