After a week of rain and cold, Saturday erupted in color with my  tulips, jonquils, and daffodils bursting open; rhododendrons starting to bloom (salmon flowers below); green azaleas turning into bursts of bright red and pink; sprays of fragrant lilacs opening (right), and fragile pale pink blossoms covering the branches of our two apple trees (below).

With the colors of spring in full force, it’s hard not to rush to nearest garden store and buy every plants in sight. But, selling and not necessarily keeping plants alive is how nurseries make a profit. With super low temperatures last week, many of the flowering plants that are now for sale were in warm, protective greenhouses or barns just a weeks ago. They would have sustained frozen damage if they’d been placed in the ground!

Along with admiring the colors of our gardens in Mount Vernon and Kirkland, we got fill soil for the two raised beds were put in a couple of weeks ago. We’ll be planting a variety of vegetables along with herbs, lettuce, and spinach in pots on the deck of our Kirkland house. While most of our vegetable gardening (squash, broccoli, beefsteak tomatoes, beans, radishes, and Thai eggplants) will be done in Mount Vernon, Rich will be putting up a couple of terraces in Kirkland for "most-have" vegetables for daily salads. These include cherry and Italian tomatoes, pea pods and peppers.

Towards the back of our Mount Vernon house is a large fir tree. I happened to look up and see something extraordinary — tiny pink baby pinecones. They were the size of plump raisins and were on the tips of most of the branches on the 30-foot tree. I’m going to pay attention in the coming weeks as to how fast these pinecones start to open and turn brown.

This weekend, we also finished clearing a large area in Mount Vernon for planting a xeriscape garden. The plants in this area had always looked kinda’ sickly and the only thing that seemed to grow was thick, invasive ivy. Once, I started hacking at the ivy, I discovered the issue. Under six inches of bark chips and loose soil was thick plastic plastic AND under this layer of plastic was a few inches of soil with another layer of plastic! For three weekends, I’ve been removing the plastic, which was slowed by decades of ivy that had grown over the plastic, creating a jumble of roots and stems that needed to be meticulously cut apart, unwound and removed.

Under the last layer of plastic, was a maze of mole burrows. Rich now knows why it has been so difficult to remove the moles because they had insulated homes under the plastic!

Plus, there were two giant juniper bushes that needed to be cut into sections and removed. We ended up taking two trailer loads of junipers and ivy (roots, branches, leaves) to the recycling center.

Next weekend, I can begin planting my xeriscape plants, which arrived in late March from High Country Gardens in New Mexico.