A Difficult Start, But Plants & Gardeners Don’t Give in Easily

April has come and gone and this means we are at mid-Spring. For a quick recap of early Spring I’ll write one word – ‘difficult‘. Difficult for gardeners anyway, (farmers too I’m betting) and who’s been waiting longer or more anxiously for its arrival!

The primary problem with this early Spring (around Boise, ID ) has been the wind, the drought and the freezing. Oh, I said problem?  I meant problems – in plural form!

Well sure, it’s not unusual to have some wind and intermittent freezing during early spring but combining these challengers with almost no moisture takes a toll on a garden and of course the garden keeper.

In this part of the Intermountain West we only get an average of 11.5-12 inches of rain per year. So when a month skips its normal rainfall, we notice! That month was March and we missed about an inch of precipitation leaving us with very dry conditions. Statistically, we are 1.66 inches below normal precipitation since the beginning of 2013. It might not sound like a lot, but remember we are talking about a maximum of 12 inches per year. Nothing like the 36 inches of rain our neighbors in the Pacific Northwest experience.

Enough of the stats, just think about this…if you were outside trying to grow beautiful it would be difficult with wind blowing you in every direction every other day. Then the night cold arrives and it is so deep that you are left with no resort but to bow down and try to make it thru till morning. And remember there’s no water as a refresher – just more wind.

Now, that is what it’s been like for all the plants in my garden. Difficult.

Thinking about it from another perspective, it is amazing how many plants don’t give in and survive the challenges day after day. (The same can be said for the motivation of die-hard gardeners I suppose.)  So even though the garden has gone through most unfavorable conditions this Spring I have a few highlights to share.

First, korean spice viburnum. A little shrub that I keep in a pot went from this to this in just a couple of days sharing its wonderful fragrance whenever I would pass by.

ES01ES02The one and only ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud (cercis canadensis) tree that survived the winter is surviving spring with its beautiful tiny blooms going from this to this.


ES1The one shower we received in April did make for some very happy tulips! My bright ‘Orange Queens’ really loved the rain and seemed so happy that day!


I was also impressed with tulip ‘Hakuun’, planted in February in a pot and the raised beds. ‘Hakuun’ turned out to be quite a sturdy performer even in difficult conditions. I cut some from the raised bed to enjoy them inside as well.



Tulip ‘Purple Prince’ was happier under the crabapple tree rather than in pots. Here is a shot of its fleeting appearance.

A little wind burn around the edges but still pretty.

New lily flowering tulips ‘Purple Dream’ in the garden.  Too cold for them to fully open but I love their elegant shape.


And for my final highlight – glorious greens! Every die-hard gardener knows a few tricks to deal with unfavorable elements and I was able to overcome my challengers and grow a gorgeous bin of greens.

ES14 ES13Arrugula and brocolli rabe went crazy in my steel planter while being protected by floating row cover. Mark one up for the gardenkeeper for not giving in to the difficult early Spring!

How about you? How has your Spring started? A favorable start with many highlights or some difficulties?

To see other gardens and what happened in April join Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog


15 thoughts on “A Difficult Start, But Plants & Gardeners Don’t Give in Easily

  1. Carol

    Thank you for the beautiful photos of your garden activity…I had all but given up on this spring giving in to any type of beauty or presentation. My gardens have suffered to the max this spring and again last night it was a devastating 18 degrees F. My tulips that are trying to show their beauty were all laying flat this morning….but little by little they are raising their colors upward to try once again to show their endurance. Hopefully we are going into a warming trend..
    Carol (Mom)

  2. jenny

    I enjoyed the stats, thanks for providing them. Despite your tried and true spring you could never tell by the color and life in all your photos!! xoxo Jenny

  3. Tough times in Southern Colorado, too! We’re still weeks from viburnums and redbuds. The freezes have been so deep. North of us (Denver) and in the mountains, heaps of snow. Nada, here. It’s a bit crazy-making.

    And I must say, for all the travails, your photos are wonderful. They give me hope.

  4. That redbud is absolutely stunning! What a beauty! I hate the wind, and I often feel sorry for plants that have to endure it day after day. This has been a very odd spring, and a very unpleasant one in many places. I hope that you get caught up on rainfall in May. It’s been dry here, too. Not a good start.

  5. Helen Johnstone

    Thank you for joining in with the End of Month meme. I love your tulips, mine are just beginning to open

  6. Lovely blossoms – especially the viburnum. I’m always amazed at how resilient some plants can be. Those greens really do look gorgeous!

  7. My first visit to your blog – followed your link for Helen (The Patient Gardener). Glad I did now. You have a lovely selection of tulips and your viburnum and cercis are gorgeous. I picked up a Cercis on a sale table recently, I have high hope but no signs of live yet!!
    Spring here in Scotland has been slow but it’s all coming together now!! We missed a few April showers too.

  8. Those do sound like tough gardening conditions, but isn’t it remarkable how plants cope an dstill produce wonderful buds, flowers and scents.
    And I’m loving your bin of greens!

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