Monthly Archives: April 2012

50 Shades of Green

In the real BDSM (bees, dirt, seeds, and manure) world of plants, there are some vegetative members who are by nature dominating and others, submissive.

These characteristics, as in the real world of animals, may be quite covert.

So, before you bring that plant home from your blind date at the garden store, a little research may be in order.

Plant tag and catalog descriptions may only prove more confusing: water plant, attracts hummingbirds, prefers sharply drained soil, heat tolerant, prefers shade, spreading habit, use slow-releasing fertilizer  – oh my!

In the end, there are plants who grow slowly and steadily, and if in the right location, will thrive. There are others that, given their druthers, will stomp out all others – dominating their territory. Beware – Campanula glamorata “Christian”, no matter how compelling.

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Biennials

Unfortunately, one of my favorite plants – Digitalis or Foxglove – is a biennial.

By definition, this means the plant needs two years to complete its life cycle, as compared to an annual’s one year term and a perennial’s indefinite lifespan.

This has both pluses and minuses:  plus – the plant gets to live longer, minus – it takes that second year to bloom.

Gardening is known to teach patience, and perhaps some day it will for me too. Biennials may be the first step in that lesson.

Bittercress

I bought this cute little 3″ pot of something – probably lavender or some such herb – from a nursery near where I used to work. NO, not the one I love but the cheaper one that also sells hay bales for Halloween and flats of impatiens cheaper than anywhere. I did manage to get some heirloom tomatoes there the year I decided to grow them in pots while “solarizing” BG.

Regardless, I saw the little weed in the pot and wasn’t bothered – obviously, these were not the commercially grown herbs from the big stores. Locally grown, hopefully lovingly cared for… Blah Blah Blah…

I wasn’t worried about a little weed I could easily pluck before planting.

Now, I can’t be 100% certain, but I didn’t have Bittercress before and I do have it now. Big Time – getting worse every year. I swear it started in BG and is spreading through the lawn and into the landscaping. Quite an accomplishment for one plant to conquer two acres…

How does it do this?

First, it blooms REALLY early – before anything else, before you are outside, before you can walk through the mud.

Second, it LIKES the wet conditions that keep a gardener inside so it does get to bloom and set seed – again, before you can walk through the mud.

Third, it grows righ on top of this mud and is SO easy to pull – until you hear the already dry seeds popping in 3-4′ arcs to replace the one stupid plant that came up so easily!

It’s a maddening plant and my year of solarizing did not eradiacte it.

Weeds

Okay, count on me as odd – I have moments when I like (love) to weed.

Weeding can be the perfect procrastination – how guilty can you feel about NOT doing what needs to be done when you are clearly getting SOMETHING done?

Weeding can be the perfect stress release – pop on the head phones and you can’t hear the kids bickering, and the repeatitive motion really requires little decision making once you know what a weed looks like.

Weeding can be the perfect way to see the plants you love – up close and happy that you have released them from their hideous bonds.

Weeding can be the perfect creative process – again, up close, you can see areas that need improvement and plan moves, additions.

Almost like shopping – weeding can the gardener’s version of cleaning your closets prior to a shopping spree.

Just remember:  no garden is one size fits all, so you just know you have to evaluate and you can  even”weed” out things that aren’t weeds – even those that are weeds just to you. Maybe a friend would like that extra daylily?

Of course, beware of gardeners with too much of something – that gooseneck loosestrife might not be a real gift…

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Spring Forward, Kinda…

If Mother Nature was going to skip a month, her decision to skip January this year, was kind of a stroke of genius. So, why is it only April 12th and I am ALREADY feeling behind?

Other years, I would still be wishing for Spring instead of already having the beds edged, preen down, mulch started, 7 or 8 pots of herbs planted, roses pruned and fertilized. I even have the trumpet vine cut back and 1/3 of the perennial border of Big Garden weeded and the asparagus bed maintained.

So, how can I feel behind? With temps in the 80s expected for this weekend, I am responding to the usual feeling I have each spring of having too much to do and not enough time – just can’t shake it. I KNOW I will be hitting my favorite nursery this weekend to start my hanging baskets – I can bring those in. And then there are the window boxes and major pots for the porch, deck and pool deck.

So, you ask, where is the downside?

I have never gotten seeds started for Big Garden. I am almost never able to plant that garden until Memorial Day, so I still have 6 weeks, which should be fine. But, I can’t even get motivated to do the plan, let alone figure out how to untangle the cords to the heat mats or the grow lights and timers. I just want to be outside, not in the basement.

What I need – don’t even think it out loud – is a rainy Saturday to force me to do this task. I was supposed to have one of those in mid-March and it didn’t happen. So, I am not only ahead of myself in some areas, I am out of order in others.

Why are we never happy with the weather?!!