It always looks worse before getting better…

In Minnesota, the little saying must be “April snow showers bring May flowers.” We had a little snow event before the weekend and I’m hoping the chillier temperatures are really on their way out since Spring arrived almost a month ago. We have had a few 50-60 degree teaser days but for the most part it seems to be a typical Minnesota spring. Summer time is especially nice here because we have to wait so long for it!

The title of this post says it all. It’s the end of winter, we’re busy getting back to work on the ponds and there is stuff all over. I know it’s all going to be quite attractive in a few weeks but in the meantime getting the areas ready for some new construction means looking at ugly dirt piles. The professional landscaper is designing a shade element for our lower pond – part pergola, part arbor, part kabuki stage. He’s also giving me a list of plants to use in the garden and sketching out the future of the backyard. The contractor has marked the footings for the deck that will go over the upper pond’s equipment pit. It’s half deck and half ornamental structure to protect the equipment. For a few weeks we were considering a very large deck but it would have overwhelmed the pond. The landscaper had some thoughts about a gas fed fire element up there. This is the great thing about a professional – they bring in ideas that we never even think about! The process is kind of fun as well – the landscaper looks at the yard, we create some mood boards (think Pinterest) of things we like and don’t like, he measures and then magically a plan appears. The good thing is we don’t necessarily have to do everything he suggests. I’m always into flaunting the rules of nature like trying to grow Zone 5 or 6 plants in Zone 4. Eventually I give up but it’s fun trying.

the yard and the garage are in a little disarray to accommodate all the work being done - being a little OCD, it does drive me crazy but in the end it will look pretty wonderful, just as my husband promises...
the yard and the garage are in a little disarray to accommodate all the work being done – being a little OCD, it does drive me crazy but in the end it will look pretty wonderful, just as my husband promises…

The deer and very fat rabbits are doing a number on some of the new plants. Day lilies and tulips are difficult to grow at this time of the year. My annual hope for a blooming tulip is down to one half of the very small patch. The hosta shoots are starting to come up so I’m sure in a week or so, the deer will switch to tender hosta for snacks. I keep hoping that some of the severely nipped azaleas will come back but it doesn’t look promising.

something is eating the day lilies and nibbling on tulips...
something is eating the day lilies and nibbling on tulips…

In spite of all the stuff that gets eaten, the late snow, the cold temperatures – you can still see many signs that spring is really around the corner. I’m always amazed that when the warm weather comes back, the plants seem to go on overdrive and grow very quickly. This year I hope to take some comparison photos.

Spring is always around the corner...
Spring is always around the corner…

Meanwhile, we received our monthly notice from the city. We use a lot of water with the winter pool changes, the constant water drip, etc. The city thinks we have a leak. They’re very kind and send out a notice:
IMG_4041

The real excitement about spring is a koi shipment that will come this week. I purchased three koi over the winter from GenkiKoi and they have been living in San Jose, California. Tomorrow they’ll be shipped to Little Siberia and I’m thinking they should be in my garage by 10:30 am Wednesday. They are a nice size – I think around 18 inches. The aka matsuba has been named Tonto, the ginrin ki utsuri is Lone Ranger and the Omosako shiro utsuri is Mizuki. I’m sure I’ll have some photos and video up on Wednesday evening.

I’m also getting a little crew of omosako shiro utsuri tosai. These are some little guys of varying patterns. When you buy a larger koi, you can more confidently determine it’s shape and pattern. You are closer to buying a finished product and of course it will cost more. I like to get small koi because it’s fun to see how they develop. The shiro utsuri takes five years or more to really come into it’s prime and along the way, its sumi (black) can come and go. I was looking on the Omosako website and they have developmental photos of some of their champion shiro utsuris. Amazingly, some of the nicest older koi were pretty ugly as tosai and looked like something you might want to get rid of inbetween. So my handful of shiro tosais are an experiment to see how sumi will develop on different koi.

Kevin Pham of GenkiKoi bowled eight tosai and after watching the video a few hundred times I eliminated two of them. Here’s the video slowed down – can you guess which ones I decided not to get? You’ll see on Wednesday…

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