MERELY FOR the record, and with no intention of whining, maybe I should point out that since the daffodils reached their mid-season bloom and right up until now, this is the wretchedest spring I have ever known.
Day after day overcast, and sometimes raining four times a day. And the worst of it is that rarely have roses, irises, peonies bloomed more magnificently.
But all that meant was that gardeners had the special anxiety of knowing that if only there was sun, the flowers would be glorious.
Never have I seen peonies rot, merely from waterlogging of the blooms, and never before have I seen an iris season no longer than two weeks. Never before were such flawless roses as - well, why bother with the names - a real mess from start to finish.
I do not say the Lord lost his mind. The Weather Bureau, with that odd unawareness of weather that seems to be so common to them, appears not to have noticed anything unusual.
No more of this. Except we learned this spring that the most exquisite torture of all is not ruinous late frost of horrendous gale or fearsome lightning bolt. No, the least endurabale thing of all is to be so close to perfection - mere hours away from sunny splendor - and yet so daunted every day by soggy rain. RRrrrrr.
Gardeners who never manage to get things planted on time have been spared, however, the full cost of their wicked tardiness. The rains and clouds have permitted things that should have been planted no later than early April to be planted in late May.
And those of us who did things at the right time should be happy for our improvident brothers who once more eked through.
A couple in Bethesda has sent me some seed of winter aconite, which should bloom in the spring of 1982. It will be nice to have these late winter flowers and I trust they will flourish.
This is the season to search out seed pods on crocuses.
They are borne in little balloon-like sacs, hard to see since they are an almost transparent membrane and nearly hidden (almsot at ground level) amid the grass and half-rotted leaves.
When I find them, I merely scatter them about, and suspect very little ever happens. If they were grown along in pots, results would be better. Still, I do have crocuses where I never planted them, so some must have made it on their own.
A weed I am fond of is the great butter-burr from Japan, a plant I long sought until someone kindly gave me a start from the plant he brought back from Japan. The largest leaves, which are almost circular, are 25 inches in diameter. They look bigger than that. It is not a plant for wee balcony gardens.
The first flowers appeared on the water lily 'Pink Butterly' on June 1, and on the red 'James Brydon' on June 3. One of the most knowledeable current, English authors says the latter never blooms before July, but with us it is always one of the first, and may be counted on throughout June and on into October.
Sometimes one wonders what to do with a clematis that produces three or four leaves and then just sits there, while everything else is growing like mad.
First, make sure it is not overwhelmed by other plants. Even violets (which in fact are rather gross creatures) can smother a young clematis. Second, keep the young vine watered, reasonably, during the summer. Sometimes a clematis that has sat there, not at all sulking, but not growing either, will begin to grow in July or even in September. In other cases no new leaves will be produced the rest of the year, but the following spring will see a great surge. I feel it is a great mistake to try to dose it with fertilizer. Leave well alone, and be patient.
Advice, I have noticed, is easy to give. One does not always act on it, even though it's right.
Sloshing about, I have greatly admired the little 'DeMeaux' rose.
The blooms are slightly more than half an inch wide, packed with tiny petals, and they open out flat. It is too small to make much show, but is a fine plant for peering at.
The large luscious pink hybrid perpetual rose 'Georg Ahrends' was a vision of great beauty for several hours recently, the bush quite covered with flowers so the leaves barely showed through. A few stout rains tended to it, but at least I now know how lovely it can be.
I do not grow grapes well, but since I do not care all that much for eating them it does not make much difference.The wasps, mockingbirds, etc., find them tasty enough. At this time of year I pinch off the new growth. Where there are bloom clusters I allow one or two leaves past the cluster than pinch the rest off. It is easy to do now, but not later.
There is a plant of 'Villard Blanc,' a grape I really do eat, that usually I keep humble and tied to a stake. It has had enough of that nonsense, and shot up a cane 12 feet high to catch on a chain.
The chain swags naturally along between 8-foot posts, and is supposed to be sacred to the grape 'Steuben.' There comes a point, however, at which 'Steuben' refuses to grow north of the chain and heads steadily south. On this northern stretch, then, 'Villard Blanc' has gained a tendril-hold.
For me it is a dessert-quality (as distinct from merely a dessert "type") white grape, vinous, sweet, large, and borne in vast clusters.
You will notice that "dessert grapes" tend to be merely grapes that do not make drinkable wine. Still, many gardeners will eat virtually anything in the way of home-grown produce.
I have heard complaints about beans. Like most things mortal, they rot if drowned more than two weeks straight. Replant them. Let us assume that having been drowned for some days, we are now entitled to a severe drought, so that beans planted now should be safe from inundations. CAPTION: Illustrations 1 and 2, no caption, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art