A Series of Firsts

No sooner do I go out of town for a week (to visit my parents on the cold, rainy East Coast) than spring makes herself at home for real in my garden. And what a thrill to return home to find trees leafed out, progress all around among the new plantings, and the titular series of firsts awaiting my arrival.

Five one-gallon azaleas planted around the base of the fountain are just starting to bloom. Pale pink, with blushing frecked throats, ever so delicate…
The first bearded iris, smelling like the Rolls Royce of grape candy. I feel the beginning of another collection coming on. Irises currently in my garden either came with the house, or were given to me by a friend who divided her white ones and then found she had more than she could use. I’ve seen one called “Anything Goes” at the local nursery, the colors of which are raspberry and pink. They sound gorgeous, and I might not be able to resist. Especially since they are being sold in enormous pots in which there are already enough rhizomes to divide. Hold me back.

The first rose buds, on one of the Joseph’s Coat climbers and on a hybrid tea that we planted a few years ago and which is now over six feet tall and among my favorites for its reliability in pumping out dozens of spicy-scented, long-stemmed beauties every year:

New growth on all the citrus trees, but none so dear to my heart as the richly perfumed blossoms on the navel orange, which I’d been about to give up for dead after it languished for two full years following transplanting to a sunnier part of the garden:

Does anyone have as many aphids on their roses as I? We planted several new roses from Jackson & Perkins early this year, and while the bushes themselves have leafed out and appear healthy, they are SEETHING with aphids. Bought a container of ladybugs at the nursery to set loose in the evening, and hope they will engage in a feeding frenzy since my sprays of water seem only to encourage the little buggers. Also fear I’m seeing white fly on them… how much indignity can tender new roses tolerate? I’m reluctant to use a systemic pesticide, since my garden is pesticide-free and I’d like to keep it that way. But I’ve never had aphids like this…

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