Less than a week ago, as you know, we were impatiently watching for even the tiniest signs of Spring. Glaring at snowbanks in our yard as they reluctantly and very slowly receded.
Four days later, the metamorphosis has occurred, seemingly overnight. Spring is HERE. OK, not quite in its full glory yet, but it’s acceptably, green-leafed, essentially here. I’ll take it!
I’m pretty sure, given another week, you won’t be able to see the tree branches for the leaves.
Another sure sign; at 7:30 this morning, while walking Ronni, I discovered several tiny 3” tall sprouts of Fireweed! My very favorite summer flower doesn’t tend to break ground until nighttime temps have been consistently above 40°F for a while. It’s a sight for sore, summer-longing eyes!
Memorial Day – the official start of Alaska’s summer season, will be here in two more weeks! There will be FLOWERS! OK, in our yard it’ll be mostly little white star flowers barely peeking shyly out from low ground cover, and the slightly bigger, also white blooms of the dwarf dogwood. Again, I’ll take it!
Today, however (yes, it’s Sunday now 🤷🏼♀️), is Mother’s Day. We plan to take the RV for a relaxing drive up Eagle River Rd to the Visitors Center, where we’ll have lunch and wander around. Jer’s leg isn’t up to anything too strenuous, but it should be fun.
Then, we will head into Anchorage for a much anticipated Mother’s Day dinner at Olive Garden. I’ll let you know how it all turns out. It looks like a glorious day.
And to all you wonderful Moms out there; remember, it’s not a job – it’s a vocation. Do the best you can.
There is nothing quite like being inside a garden center, greenhouse or plant nursery this time of year.
It’s a bit too soon to plant in-ground gardens yet (Memorial Day weekend is generally considered a safe starting date in south-central Alaska), but potted plants and hanging baskets are heading out of the nurseries in droves.
Actually, having now shopped; if the people crowding the vegetable isles of the garden centers are any indication, whole flats of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, chives and other greenhouse-started vegetable are also leaping off the shelves.
Hopefully, they are heading to home greenhouses or other protected areas to slowly harden off (get accustomed to outdoor temps during the day while protected by plastic or tarps at night) until it’s safe to plop them into the ground.
Gardeners who jump the gun up here MAY (no pun intended) be successful if they are lucky, but are as often devastated when a late frost – it just takes one night – kills off much of their hard work.
My goal is not to fill a garden, but to create a couple of cheerful pots crammed with an assortment of herbs and flowers known for their ability to discourage mosquitoes. That they are also pretty and smell great is icing on the cake.
So, what did I come home with? More than enough for two pots, as often happens. But hey, they not only serve a purpose; they also smell wonderful and give Roada such a homey vibe. 🪴🌼🪴
Of course, the most important plant in any summer travel pot in Alaska is Citrosa, also known as Citronella or Scented Geranium. I bought two – one for each pot.
I also picked up a Lemon Balm plant for each pot – not only do mosquitoes tend to steer away from these lemon-scented herbs, but just a brush of your hand through the foliage has the whole RV smelling like you’ve just finished cleaning.
I added Rosemary mostly because I love the smell, but it is also named as one of the herbs on the “mosquitoes don’t like it” list – so, win/win.
Lemon Thyme adds more lemony goodness/bug-repellency, and as it grows, it will spill prettily over the edge of the pot.
Speaking of spilling prettily down the side of my pot; I couldn’t resist the sunny, golden leaves of these Goldilocks plants (also known as Creeping Jenny). These have no other purpose in my pot than to look beautiful.
The Goldilocks will brighten up one pot, while the finishing touch on the other pot will be these cheerful, brilliantly yellow (and yes, mosquito-repelling) Marigolds.
Finally, with assorted plants , pots and potting soil at hand, it’s time to decide what combination goes in which pot. The goal is to complement each other while standing out with unique differences.
I think the draping Goldilocks and lemon Thyme in one pot and the upright Marigolds in the other will be just right. Now to get my hands dirty.
OK, what do you think of my gathering and gardening results? Am I ready for summer camping season?
Yes, I know by August they’ll be twice this size and ready to burst out of their pots. That’s the compromise for wanting to start the season with already pretty pots. I usually need to do some judicious pruning mid-season, but it’s worth it.
Trimmings don’t go to waste either. They get cut up and made into a potpourri of scented herbs. I keep them in a little covered tub near the dog gear. I will crush the herbs in my hands and then rub my hands over the dachshunds before we go for walks – it’s an effective all-natural mosquito repellent. Of course, I can do the same by plucking leaves (especially Citronella) off the live plants.
I also chose new pots this year, meant to complement the tan and brown shades of my RV exterior. Of course, it’ll look nicer when I have the pots sitting on my big blue and tan washable ground cover.
Oh! The area mat! The one that was helping keep the mud and dirt out of Roada during those cold, wet trials! Geez, I almost forgot – I rolled it up and stored it away, wet and muddy. It needs washing! [Envision me pulling my big plastic-woven ground cover out of the RV garage and hefting it up over a ladder in the yard.]
Thankfully, I had only needed to partially open it for the trials, so only these two folded sides needed washing – opened fully, the ground cover is 4 times this width, needing two large ladders to keep it up out of the dirt while I power-wash it clean. Hey, it had seemed like a good size when I bought it. 😄
WAIT! I almost forgot Phred! Phred (pronounced “Fred”) has accompanied me and the dachshunds every summer since my travels began. She definitely deserves to be in the picture. 💗
What a difference a couple of days make. All the signs of spring are beginning to sprout around me. Temperatures are rising daily. I am SO happy to feel the warmth of sun on my face.
By 10:00 am today, I had the front door of the RV open, with just the screen door between me and the great outdoors. It’s the perfect day to open windows, put the dinette slide out and give everything a good scrubbing.
After returning from two consecutive weekends of nose work trials in wet, muddy conditions, I’d swept floors, washed a dozen dirty doggy towels and shook out rugs, but I’d been putting off mopping the RV floor until I could air it out better.
A large, plastic RV mat and bristly doormat outside, partnered with doggy towels on the steps and initial entry area saved us from total muddy chaos during the trials, but boy, it was a mess.
During the summer, I will sweep and wet-Swiffer-mop often, even in good weather. It’s a small enough area, but since I can’t easily get down on hands and knees to give dirty corners a good scrub, it’s best to stay on top of it.
The floors are now clean and shiny, the range top and countertop clean. Dinette seat covers are in the wash. My next jobs are to take the vacuum and then Armor-All to the truck cab, and then wash windows.
On the home front; I’m happy to say my husband, Jerry, is doing well. He is still in PT, working to regain the strength in his now officially healed fractured leg, but only for a few more weeks. He has been released by his doctors to get on with his usual activities. Thank goodness the curling club won’t gather again until next winter. 😉
In the meantime, although gimpy and sometimes relying on a cane, Jer says he’s eager for a short camping trip. I obviously wasn’t the only one feeling the effects of being mostly home-bound this past winter.
I convinced him to wait another week, during which I’m hoping temps will settle into a warming trend and spring-green leaves will brighten the landscape. Besides, here in Alaska, most campgrounds and possibly more importantly, dump stations, won’t open for another week or two.
Rhonda and I are also looking forward to a Barn Hunt trial down in Soldotna over Memorial Day weekend, followed by another AKC Scent Work trial in nearby Kenai. June will hopefully bring with it sunny skies and warm weather. No promises, of course, but we can be optimistic.
Of course, you know what this means, right? It’s time to head to the nursery in search of citronella, lemon balm and other mosquito repellent plants for my annual RV travel pot!
A brilliantly hued orange and black butterfly flittered past the window of my RV this morning just as I pulled the shade up.
My handy-dandy bug-identifier phone app tells me it’s a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterfly and they are commonly found in south-central Alaska in early spring. Hmm … “early spring” seems a relative term here. This year, mid-May qualifies. What do I know? The little winged harbinger of spring was bright and beautiful and started my day out just right.
My morning also started out with sunshine and mostly blue skies! I was able to go outside wearing only a sweatshirt against the 7:30 am crispness.
Admittedly, our foliage has much to be desired right now, still painted broadly by an overall brown and tan brush, in a sodden, dead-leaf patterned landscape. Evergreen spruce trees add the only much-appreciated greenery to the scene.
My morning walk with Ronni offered up plenty of residual snow banks to romp across, but thankfully, they are rapidly receding.
It wasn’t until I was well down the driveway that a touch of unexpected color, partially buried in dead leaves, caught my eye.
Could it be? Was that … gasp … green?
Yes, it is! Only an inch or two high thus far, and struggling to push up past the winter blanket of dead leaves, I’m thrilled to discover the first emergent green leaves of a clump of tiny but hardy, low growing Star flower. These itsy-bitsy white-flowering plants flourish close to the ground in damp areas along edges of gravel driveways and walking paths, enjoying some sunlight, but also the protection of slightly taller shrubbery to shade them from too much direct sun.
Now knowing what to look for; on closer inspection, and after brushing away a few more dead leaves, I soon found the dark purple-mauve (soon to be green) of dwarf dogwood hugging the forest floor. These dense, spreading shrubs will grow knee-high by mid-summer.
A bit further down the driveway, I located barely unfurled starts of wild-growing raspberry plants, tiny reddish buds of new growth on otherwise dead-looking wild rose bushes and the first small, plump leaves of wild red currents.
Spring IS finally beginning to burst forth from its protective cover. These brave newcomers will, in no time at all, take over the forest floor, transforming the dull browns of “Spring is coming” to the vibrant green of “Spring is here”!
Hopefully, the trees in my yard will be quick to follow suit.
Currently, the red haze of leaf buds and new growth are giving a soft, slightly out of focus fuzziness to the previously bare-limbed trees.
I’m betting, by the end of the week, that red haze will be more of a pale, wispy green as leaves begin to open their fragile hearts towards the ever strengthening sun.
I do believe our long-awaited Spring is finally upon us.