“A Cold Morning Sir”

That is the title of this little F.S. Church print that hangs on the wall above my writing desk.

FS Church- "A Cold Morning Sir"

A winter day like today.

We are in a week of frozen cold starry nights that open into icy cold mornings.  But the sky becomes mostly blue and clear with slightly warm sun at noon –except for in the shady places, which never thaw.  (Just like that day I rolled the car a few years ago in a shady bit of road where only the frosty surface had melted, so there was water over ice. Very slippery.  Just so you know.)

Such a great time to work outside! And no one has locked up the pruners so I cut back some more rose bushes yesterday afternoon. Today I have in mind a huge spirea bush.  I am actually thinking of using a little limb saw in this case.  I won’t photograph today’s garden violence because I do not want to further scar the gentle psyches of my readers after the rose pruning incident of last week.

But wait, Tillie is telling me something… Oh.

Tillie advises

Tillie feels the radical pruning of the spirea will build the character of readers! Well all right then,  I will take photographs.

Here is the spirea bush, about to be given extreme care.

spirea bushNow this bush was on the property when I moved here. It has been moved a couple of times, with a tractor, the last time being last year. It is a very tough and resilient shrub.

And I THINK it is a spirea.

[sounds of clipping and sawing]

There! All done.

prunedI was hoping that having the solar garden light in this picture would make you feel better about the pruning…But here to really cheer you up is a little pansy, blooming in a protected sunny spot near the greenhouse.


In other winter news: the striped tiarella seeds I gathered last summer have sprouted into teeny tiarellas–and if those are patented or something then these are delphinium sprouts.

striped tiarella seedlingsI love these plants. Here are the ones in my garden in maybe July.

tiarellaDoesn’t it help to go back and look at pictures from summer? I think it keeps us from throwing ourselves under buses or etc. during the long cold winter.

And here is a very exciting photograph of one of the six or so surviving clematis cuttings. This plant is poised to burst into vine at the first sign of spring!

clematis cuttingAND, here are some lavender plants that I grew from seed!

Well not really, but the Plant Goddess grew them and she recklessly gave them to me. They are so adorable that I am going to try my hardest to not kill them.

lavenderHave you forgotten about the chopped spirea yet?

Maybe think about this: soon, if the weather holds, I move on to the raspberry canes…


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in propagation, pruning, Tillie and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to “A Cold Morning Sir”

  1. My God! That clematis cutting. Be still my heart!

    • linniew says:

      Oh I know– I shouldn’t post those really fabulous lush truly dazzling plant successes–it’s so hard on everyone else. (Do you think it’s alive or not? I can’t really tell…)

  2. Greggo says:

    Not sure if that’s a spirea. Maybe a scalpea. Har har har.

  3. Spirea needs to go under the knife now and then. Next spring it will be oh so happy again,

  4. Roberta says:

    What in tarnation is that angel baby doing without shoes on? S/he has no pants, no nothing! It looks like the birdie and the baby only have a few feathers between them, no wonder they’re hovering so close to the fire.

    Also, I am ever grateful that you used the large green arrow to point out the clematis cutting. I’m sure it will flourish. Eventually. Maybe it needs a plastic bag over it (not for suffocation purposes, mind you) to keep in the warm air, what precious little of it there may be.

    I’m sticking with lettuce and spinach and kale. I’d like to know what critter braves our cold temperatures to help itself to a nightly nosh. For the life of me, I cannot find it.

    • linniew says:

      There is no accounting for cherub fashion, Roberta. And yes, the clematis bud IS small. Or maybe I dreamed it. At least the arrow is big… I think the thing eating your lettuce is likely a neighbor–salad greens are valuable.

  5. Alberto says:

    Poor little clematis cutting… and lavender seedlings… they’re holding so tight to their little lives they don’t know where they are and what to expect if they stay in the butcher’s greenhouse… Defenseless like that little bird. Because yeah that fatty angel lit up a fire to cook the birdie, didn’t he?

    • linniew says:

      Good heavens Alberto! Well to begin, are you planning to never prune those 95 or so new rose bushes you just planted? (Butcher?) And your suggestion about the bloodthirsty nature of that sweet cherub suggests to me that your television habits are worse than I thought. You’ve been watching True Blood haven’t you?

      • Alberto says:

        Yes I admit, I’ve been watching it. But I think you’ve been watching it too to prune all that cross your way like that… I guess you felt a little Antony Hopkins on The Silence of the Lambs… We could play a remake: The Silence of the Spireas.

        ….You having some guests for dinner tonight?!

  6. Holleygarden says:

    I don’t know anything about spireas, not having any in my garden, but that does look extreme! Perhaps you should start a TV program called “Extreme Pruning”. You could either be the host, or the winning contestant!

  7. kininvie says:

    I shall be brief. That clematis is dead. As predicted.

    • linniew says:

      Thy shalt not covet thy neighbor’s vibrant clematis cutting.

      • kininvie says:

        Did we have a wager on it? I’ve forgotten. If not, would you care to think of one? I could offer caber-tossing or neep-carving if I lose. You might do something creative with a corn dog?

        • linniew says:

          Well you are in fine form today Kininvie.

          Sure thing–let’s bet. You lose you carve a neep, I lose I eat a greasy corn dog at the State Fair– (I don’t want to hear your other ideas about corn dogs.) Payment is documented with images and possibly a witness testimony–the doctor who sews up your hand after you use a sharp little carving knife for example…

          I’ll photograph the vivacious, well-started plants again in summer and we’ll evaluate.
          Perfect enough plan?

  8. b-a-g says:

    I hope the spirea doesn’t retaliate.

  9. cynthia says:

    I have a spirea but have never butchered it so severely. I’ll eagerly await news of its performance this summer. You are on a roll! Here, we wait until Feb. 14 (that’s right, Valentine’s Day) to do any pruning, lest the plants get fooled into budding too early.

    • linniew says:

      Cynthia, language! We do not “butcher” plants– [See what a bad example you have set, Alberto!] We care for plants, with love and with the most exacting management techniques. Except for the annual Valentine’s Day Massacre at your house sounds like. You know I really don’t believe that chopping a plant will inspire it to instantly grow in cold weather. Or perhaps I should chop the clematis cuttings? I really don’t want to eat any corn dogs…

      • cynthia says:

        Word choice is so important, isn’t it? “Valentine’s Day Massacre” indeed! I guess we have so many early warm days here that the plants are easily fooled into budding before winter is done. For example, we are expecting days in the 70s for the rest of this week.

  10. We have a very cold day after a very warm day yesterday. I need to get out there and prune and clear away the leaf litter. I have already seen some sprouts emerging. The veggie garden is holding its own…I cover it at night if below freezing weather is predicted. I’ll start some seeds in a few weeks. It looks as if you are well on your way to having an even more beautiful garden this year.

    • linniew says:

      You are so kind Butterfly. I’m glad you have vegetables in winter–I had parsley but it froze last night. Snow coming this weekend. And I am being threatened with corn dogs.

      Happy new year to you and your garden!

  11. Grace says:

    Okay, Linnie Girl, I want to thank you for the opportunity to unveil my botanical finesse. [This is code for “be a total know-it-all, show-off.”] Ready?

    Spiraea and Rose are from the same family: Rosacaea. This means they can be treated the same way in terms of culture and care, including pruning methods. Pruning back hard will facilitate new growth and barring any sudden extreme warm-up followed by a sudden extreme cool-down, your Spiraea will likely remain fast asleep until the daylight hours are sufficient enough to coax it out of dormancy. Next summer it will be free of the powdery mildew that routinely affects this shrub when the airflow is insufficient which it is when it’s an overgrown mass like yours was. Also, Spiraea like most roses, blooms on new wood so you haven’t sacrificed any summer blooms by your pruning.

    I speak from experience on that last part. So anybody that gives you any guff for your extreme cutting can go back to hoity-toity-ville where they belong. 🙂

    Yes, Tillie and I had coffee this morning.

    • linniew says:

      You are awesome to know all this Gracie. No wonder you have such a staggeringly glorious garden in summer. Really I just love it when Science and I are on the same side. (We don’t always get along, Science and I…) But what you say about the Rosacaea family makes the most perfect sense–

      I have trimmed up the spirea in other years, and yes it always grows like mad and blooms on the new growth just like you said. This is the first time I’ve mowed it down like that though, and your reassurances are lovely.

      I’m just sorry you had to have coffee with Tillie. I hope you had a good day anyway. xo L

  12. Alistair says:

    I think you are probably more Johnny Deppish than Hopkinish but the maybe Spirea looks better with the chop. I have been looking out for Tillie I had completely forgotten that you were her agent. She is so like Old Mother Riley, I wonder If K remembers her, perhaps he is not old enough.

    • linniew says:

      Thank you Alistair– And I don’t recall Edward Scissorhands ever killing anyone. But he could really prune. I just looked up Old Mother Riley and I see why Tillie reminds you of her. K is surely much, much too old to remember her though…

  13. Bridget Foy says:

    I really like your blog so I have nominated you for a Versatile Bloggers Award. Check out my blog for details of the award.

    • linniew says:

      Oh my goodness Bridget! I thank you! I will have to discover the meaning of Versatile Bloggers Award, but I am sure it is better than a Doesn’t Stay on Subject Award, which I know I deserve…

  14. Amidst the cold, your little greenhouse sprouts are be-stilling my heart! I have always wanted to grow lavender from seed, one of my fave plants. You have inspired me to try it this year! Love your drawing that hangs over your desk…gorgeous!! And how appropriate for this weather…Cheers Julia xx

  15. I am always being told to chop back my spirea so I think it’s “the thing”. However, I have never interpreted that advice as literally as you did. Seriously, they bounce right back.

  16. Aimee says:

    Well, you are earning yourself a new nickname – Linnie “the Hack” I’m picturing you leading some gang of up-to-no-good pruners in and out of local gardens, attacking at will..evil cackling…something out of Monty Python.

    Bravo for attacking that spirea in full force. Sounds like your garden gurus expect a full rebound from it this spring. It will be fun to see the before and after pictures of that! (are there any “before” pictures of Tilly?)

    “A cold morning, Sir” is absolutely wonderful.

  17. Pingback: For LinnieW | Garden In The Woods

  18. I pruned that brutally year before last. Here’s how it turned out: http://gardeninthewoods.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/for-linniew/

    • linniew says:

      You are so kind to post images of the outcome of your spirea pruning– it is exactly what I had in mind for my spirea when I did that big cut-back!

  19. Perhaps things are done a bit differently in the PNW, but I fear your bridalwreath spirea did not bloom in 2012, did it? Your blog needs a search widget so I can properly set the time and date on my blog way-back machine. Cutting back the top by a third and taking out the individual older wood would have been severe pruning. Although, I know you haven’t killed it, I am sure the beautiful image in you mind will not fully develop until 2013 (which is not registering as yet on the meter of my blog time machine). Having later in 2012 succumbed to a monumental birthday, you may begin to realize two years is a bit of a wait at times, or so it may seem. Alberto had the right of this issuing forth metaphors of butcher and cannibal, and pondering that the baby angel is only as innocent as the things he does…

    • linniew says:

      Well I had no expectations of sudden spirea bloom after that pruning. But the plant had been moved and neglected before that, so it really needed a new start and shape. It grew the first summer (see the post Spirea Redux) and I have hope of bloom this year. Like Edith Piaf, I regret nothing!

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