The Next Chapter

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Planting More. That new apartment calls for new containers and my growing bench is still almost covered in rootings and plants purchased this spring. The big project is a Big Foot Planter. Yes, that’s right – a planter shaped like a human foot if the person was 10 feet tall. It’s a whimsical statement garden ornament – you cannot help but laugh at it, but you won’t forget it, either. I like to use pots such as this as a cache, or cover, with other pots inserted inside. That way I can change plants whenever the whim strikes me and do not have to worry about roots adhering to the inside of the ornamental pot. Proportion is everything with a piece like this and the trick is to choose plants that will be tall yet thrive in relatively small pots. I’m going with a combination of a dwarf ornamental grass for height and variegated airplane plants for contrast and filler, maybe a loud red petunia… Pruning Some. Shaping roses after they bloom can be a prickly task at times, but well worth the effort and I’ll use almost any tool short of a chainsaw to do it. (I’m still reeling over the sight of a man taking down a row of Knockout roses that way, but the indomitable shrubs are blooming.) The long, draping canes covered in little rosebuds can be simply clipped with hedge shears, then I’ll use hand clippers to shorten the ones that scrape the ground. A few old canes on other roses are clearly toast, so I’ll lop them off near ground level. Sometimes that will restart new growth, but at least they’ll be out of the way. It’s an ongoing process to retrain a sprawling rose onto a trellis, but a few jute ties and it will look almost intentional. Sometimes a ‘surprise’ plant is delightful, but the seedling crepe myrtle that obviously came from my neighbor’s tree is a pain. I cut it down over and again but it clearly wants to grow in this spot, rather like the magnolia tree that came up after the same neighbor cut his down. Maybe both plants are part of my next chapter. Dratted Weeds. The fight continues, but for the moment I am winning the battle against a motley crew of pest plants in the front garden. My strategy has been to go with the temperature and get after them weekly. While it was cool, we weeded, trying to dig as deep as possible to get root clumps out yet teasing long strands of dollar weed – sort of a gardener’s two-step dance and a heckuva workout, believe me. During warmer weeks I tried out some oils and corn gluten weed controls. Between the two, things are looking bare there for a second week and I am happy. A new layer of mulch and I’ll be set for summer. Water check. Leaky hoses and split soakers still need inspection and repair, but the weather has been so cooperative that my needs for water have been few. I‘ve been putting in some new hardware – hose y’s, quick couplers and sturdy shepherd’s hooks designed for holding big loops of garden hose. All to make it easier to actually water when needed without dragging stuff around or finding that what drips is actually gushing. Gardeners in other parts of the country look forward to summer in ways we do not. They wax poetic about warm summer nights, but they mean nights with temperatures like we are having now. Still, if we get the garden ready for summer while it is still weeks away we will enjoy sitting outside, grilling, and watching the fireflies take the night. Find the time to get these garden chores done so they won’t be staring at you to spoil the view.
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