It turns out that taking a day off of planting wasn't such a bad thing. I rested up and was able to get quite a lot planted yesterday: all of the perennials I'd bought (including asters, which I forgot to mention) as well as the begonias, zinnias, and petunias.
I think I've discovered why we had a bit of a "dead zone" on that hill where I planted all of these plants. When we had the landscaping done, either they didn't add new soil or else it's all just washed away and what's left is mulch on top of clay. And rocks. There's no soil to speak of and so no nutrients - no wonder all the plants were dying in that area!
When I planted these new plants, I added what I thought was lots of soil there so that the plants have a chance. Hopefully I've given them enough; I used some 4-in-1 organic soil so there should be something for them. I'm not totally opposed to the use of fertilizers but I'm concerned about their environmental impact and so I'd like to avoid them if at all possible.
This afternoon we got some of the groundcover plants in the ground and I got the salvia planted as well. I think I've just got vines and things that climb or trail left to plant and I hope to get them done in the next two days.
I also cut my lupine flowers down today as they were starting to go to seed and I have so many now (and seeds) that I don't need more. Say what you will about this winter but it made my lupines thrive and it killed off all of my lupine aphids so they're positively thriving.
Speaking of this past winter, it was very difficult for a number of trees and shrubs in our area. Our cherry tree's central leader has started to die off a bit and at least one of our shrubs barely survived. The buds on our weeping willow started to crack open but then stopped and now all of the branches are breaking off. The root stock is doing just fine; it's trying really hard to send growth out. We think that there's growth in the grafted area so the tree might yet be saved but we don't know. One of our rosebushes that had been doing incredibly well last year had to be cut back almost right to the ground.
All through the neighbourhood, trees and shrubs are dead or dying. I don't know if it was the cold or the ice or the snow or what but it really affected things around here. For all I know, this kind of killing winter is actually good for the trees and shrubs because once the dead stuff is cleared out, they all seem to be thriving.
I'm looking forward to getting everything planted in the garden and spending my afternoons puttering around. It turns out that I don't love the hard work so much as I love just walking around, trimming these flowers or pulling those weeds. It'll be nice to be able to be a bit lazy again.