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Dengue Fever

daffodil111.jpgWell, I hate to go on and on about my somewhat dysfunctional relationship with Spring but…….. Bloody hell it’s April and why isn’t it warm yet? I want to catch Spring Fever. Mind you I am not interested in a repeat of last year’s meteorological disaster. Normal highs right now should be in the mid-50’s. If I get a day that’s 45 and sunny I’m practically kissing the ground in joy. You need sun, 60° temps, and some balmy air to catch Spring Fever. The official first day of Spring was March 20. No Spring Fever. On March 11 at 2:27 pm I found my first crocus in bloom. No Spring Fever. Our first daffodils really only came into full bloom about a week ago.

In a freakish year we’ve had them blooming in February. I expect some in mid-March at least. Forsythia is just in full bud. Look along the top of the hills around the main parking lot for a yellow haze. That’s Forsythia x intermedia ‘Courtasol’ or Gold Tide® forsythia (for your own mental well-being I won’t go into my tirade on trademarked plant names versus cultivar names). This is one of a fairly recent group of dwarf forsythia that also posses good blooming traits. In a few days or a week it should be screaming yellow. But will it give me spring fever?

And speaking of screaming. We got our spring annuals in a couple weeks ago so we all became planting banshees (some became planting She-Rahs but I won’t say who – okay, if you come real close I will whisper in your ear).

pansy1.jpgIn a week we put nearly 7600 pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) and almost 550 stock (Matthiola incana) in the gardens. These give us some extra color that lasts until danger of frost passes in mid-May. They are what we call cool season annuals because they tolerate frost and generally start frying when temperatures reach the 80’s. You will find these in the Garden for Everyone, the Border Gardens, the Dick Wood Formal Garden, the Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse, the big corner sign at 38th and Michigan, and around the Sutphin Fountain.


I was looking for some inspiration for my planting around the fountain when it was time to order the plants last September so I looked at the upcoming exhibitions schedule. My best match appeared to be the one on the prints by Gemini/GEL. Looking at their website I found a Frank Stella print that was intriguing and aesthetically pleasing. It’s titled Furg (StateII).

I have no idea what the title refers to and to be perfectly honest for my purposes it doesn’t really matter. I merely used it as my muse. It was the first time I had been able to tie a planting design with an exhibition.

Frank Stella, ‘Furg(StateII)’ Photo: Gemini/ GEL

I think my interpretation came out very nicely. But still no spring fever.


On a different tangent but still involving spring annuals I can report environmental progress in the growing of these plants. Our suppliers have been changing their growing flats. The new system uses about half as much plastic and the flats can be used multiple times. The image shows the old system on the right and the new on the left. That’s all well and good but it doesn’t give me spring fever.

New, reusable growing flats, IMA Photo

We’ve been receiving boxes and boxes of bare-root perennials this week. These are just what the name says – plants with no soil around the roots, just a little peat in a plastic bag. It’s a very cost effective method of shipping. You just have to plant them pretty damn fast. I also got my flat of Helleborus foetidus ‘Gold Bullion’. I’ve wanted them for years. That should have infected me with at least a mild case of spring fever.

Baby Chicks, Photo: alas Babylon, it did not. What will it take? Last week-end I went to Tractor Supply to see the baby chicks. I held several, talked to one. I mean, we are talking baby chicks here people. Baby chicks!

Land’s sakes, if that doesn’t give you spring fever what the hell will? There is a rumor that temps will be in the 60’s the first week-end of April. That would do the trick possibly. In the mean time I’m making do with a serious case of Dengue Fever I caught a couple weeks back. For the best in Cambodian pop out of California they cannot be beat. Here’s their video for Sni Bong. They make me wish I had a Tiger Phone Card. Where’s the cool damp cloth for my forehead? I need to set my incubator. Maybe if I held a baby goose……..

Filed under: Horticulture

9 Responses to “Dengue Fever”

  • avatar
    Avonell Says:

    Love your blog and am sharing it with others. Seeing all of those flats of pansies waiting to be planted brought back memories. Thanks for brightning my day!!!

  • avatar
    Janet Says:

    Hey Irvin, Avonell was true to her word and did share. It’s been cold in Maryland too so you are in good company. Looking forward to your next blog.

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Why, thank you Janet. It’s been cold too long here too.It’s been sunny all day and is now 69. And a very special “thank you” to you Avonell. I think of you every time I try to get a straight line or pinch a root ball. Please forgive me when I tell you that this year I neither pinched root balls nor deadheaded the pansies before planting (Chad made me, he’s a monster I tell you). Don’t tell anyone I said that. Things couild get so ugly. I’ll send you a shot of the red romaine, green leaf lettuce, and bok choi.

  • avatar
    Jo Says:

    I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying your blogs – well, actually, I guess I just did.

    I look forward to hearing more about the IMA gardens throughout the seasons.

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Jo, glad you are enjoying the blogs. It’s been fun and a learning experience both. Soon I will be able to turn on the computer without the cheat sheet.

  • avatar
    Jeff Says:


    I saw Mark Z last evening at an event and commented to him how much I enjoyed your first post! You blog just like you talk! (Imagine that.)

    Give my regards to Chad and the gang.


  • avatar
    Anonymous Says:

    Thanks Jeff (are you our former “8×10 glossy”?) I am trying to remain true to my many parts. The pressure to be “normal” has always been great, especially when I was applying the force. As they say in La Cage, I am what I am.

  • avatar
    Lilly Jan Says:

    Love it, Irvin. You have a way with words and plants. If the oval has been stripped, I’m probably guilty–a vegetarian, you know.

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Jan. Don’t even think about it. I can get you into a 12-step program. Let me help you help yourself.

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