by Leslie Cox; Sunday; May 6, 2018

'Transparent' apple & magnolia in blossomThere is just sooo much happening in the garden right now, it is difficult to know where to start! I’ll start with the apple blossoms as I can see the old ‘Transparent’ tree from my kitchen sink window, first thing in the mornings.

That tree never ceases to amaze me. It was planted by the original owners of our house, circa 1960s. Unfortunately, life has not been perfectly kind to it. At some point, prior to our acquisition of the property, the tree suffered a split caused by who knows what…but likely a snow load. Time has progressed since that fateful day and the split has developed into a sizable hole…rotten inside. And yet…here it stands in the spring of 2018, just loaded with blossoms. A sure sign it will have some fruit for pies and applesauce come mid-summer.

espalier apple tree in bloomNot to be outdone…our espalier apple tree is also decently loaded with blossoms. Planted in our garden in 2013, this espalier apple is three-tiered and supports six different varieties…a different one on each branch. It is like going to the grocery store with their multi-selections.

The ‘Honeycrisp’ branch has the most blossoms this year. ‘Jonagold’ is next with ‘Akane’ (pronounced ay-KAH-nay) right behind. Then it is a toss-up between ‘Gravenstein’ and ‘Spartan’ as to who has the most…without me physically counting the flowers. Suffice to say, it looks to be a good year for apples in our garden.

I have been spending quite a bit of time in the greenhouse this last week…dividing my potted hostas prior to them making their way to my front garden where they will adorn the porch. I have just realized how large my hosta collection has grown. According to my Garden Inventory list, I have 72 hosta species and cultivars noted! Ya think I may have an addiction problem to this particular plant genus??!! Being thoroughly incorrigible, I have already added two more to my collection so far this spring, and am still on the hunt for a new introduction must-have I want for my garden.

Truthfully, there may be a few more than 72 hostas in my collection…ones which I purchased in the last year, but have not added to the Inventory list yet. However, those newbies will be offset by the ones which I have sadly lost. Still trying to determine exactly who all has returned to the garden scene this spring. I know I have lost ‘Christmas Tree’ as it did not like being choked by the big tree roots. (This is why I keep so many of my hostas in pots.) I did like this one, so still contemplating whether I will replace it in my collection. ‘Sun Power’ has returned but is down to a single stem so it will be dug up and potted for a recovery period before I try to find a new garden location for it.

Hosta 'Liberty'There is some good news about my addiction to hostas. Since all hostas need to be divided every so many years, the divisions wind up on our plant table…and this year there happens to be some really good cultivars up for sale. At least five of the cultivars we have for sale are notable for being Hosta of the Year selections by the American Hosta Growers Association. (My collection currently boasts seventeen of the twenty-three on the Hosta of the Year list which was started in 1996.) Two of my favourites are ‘Liberty’ and ‘Rainforest Sunrise’, Hostas of the Year for 2012 and 2013 respectively. And another favourite offered up on the plant table is ‘Wolverine’…not a Hosta of the Year selection but it should be. In my humble opinion.

Speaking of humble…I made a wonderful discovery in the greenhouse this week. We have small bees nesting in one of the cedar planks of the central bed. Caught one exiting a hole just by chance. Photo op! Grabbed my camera, made myself as comfortable place to sit as I could and settled down to wait. Took several (dozen) to make sure I had some reasonably decent ones for the files. So awesome. A little research and I have determined the one(s) in the greenhouse are Osmia lignaria subsp. propinqua, or western blue orchard bee.

I will be writing more about this little bee in the near future. As soon as I finish dividing the rest of the potted hostas!! And on that note…until next week…

Happy gardening!