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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Growing Some Soil

I just recently started composting. Uh, well…. Since I haven’t been doing it long enough yet to have produced any actual compost, I guess it’s more like I’m just saving discarded food in a box in the yard, adding dirt or water or yard clippings to it every once in a while, and stirring it around.

But anyway.

But there’s something strangely satisfying about putting kale spines and orange peels into the compost pail under the sink. Knowing that they’re destined to become food for the plants in my yard. It’s all very circle-of-lifey. I’ve even started bringing my banana peels and tea bags home from work to add to the bin.

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I just discovered the Garden Rant blog last week, and I have a full-on blog-crush on it. Gardening with an attitude, who knew.

This post on Asparagus – but actually about so much more – is just awesome. Favorite quotes:

It’s better to live the dream and assume that the harvest is assured, instead of pinchedly calculating the probability of happiness and refusing to risk anything when the odds are against you.  Or so I’ve learned from the humble asparagus.

and

It’s one of my basic principles as a gardener: Never trust anybody who tells you to dig deeper than a shovel’s depth.  I suspect that deep-digging is like Scientology, a cult of self-betterment for the gullible.

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Plants Are My Crack

Broke down yesterday and bought a lovely, large potted Endless Summer Hydrangea and a large potted Bleeding Heart. D convinced me not to toss the tiny and mostly dead All Summer Beauty starter into the compost bin – he suggested cutting down the growth, planting it in a pot,  and babying it for a bit to see if it comes back. For someone with no gardening experience, he has had some great insights. He keeps calling the hydrangea “hydrangea-ness.”

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April Gardening

I got a little too excited about my landscaping projects, and I ordered over 60 plants a few weeks ago. Mercifully, they didn’t all ship at the same time. I did get about 40 of them a couple of weeks ago, though, so I had several days of furious soil cultivating, hole digging, planting, and praying to the garden gods. I learned a couple of things: One, in the future I need to not order a bunch of plants all at once. Two, I truly am not cut out for manual labor (but thank god I started lift class back in January).

Many of the plants arrived in “bare root” form. Basically dead-looking sticks or chips of wood with alien tentacles of roots attached to them. I have no experience with planting anything but starter plants that actually look like plants, so I’m keeping my expectations low for those bare root jobbies. I don’t think I’d go the bare root route again, unless this was the only form available for a plant I really wanted. There’s just something really unsatisfying about planting what looks like a dead, hairy wood chip.

The already-established plants were there when we moved in. We removed several that we really didn’t like, and transplanted a few more. Then I planted Russian Sage, Echinacea, Butterfly Weed, and Lavender around the borders. I bought a couple of potted plants at a local plant sale – Lavender and Echinacea – so maybe if the bare roots don’t make it at least these will.

Front Yard Border

Front Yard Border

Echinacea. Do you see it? Yeah, me neither.

Echinacea. Do you see it? Yeah, me neither.

Echinacea that IS visible to the naked eye!

Echinacea that IS visible to the naked eye!

Lavender from the plant sale.

Lavender from the plant sale.

That’s Zebra Grass in the corner and a tiny Lavender in the foreground:

Lavender and Zebra Grass

Lavender and Zebra Grass

This east-facing spot is the new home of a Pink Delight Butterfly Bush:

Butterfly Bush. Someday it could be as large as 10' by 10'.

Butterfly Bush. Someday it could be as large as 10' by 10'.

Grow, Butterfly Bush, grow!

Grow, Butterfly Bush, grow!

I hope this Volcano Clematis will someday provide a bit of a screen between us and the neighbor next door:

Clematis. Someday it'll have lovely deep purple-red flowers. I hope.

Clematis. Someday it'll have lovely deep purple-red flowers. I hope.

I’m still waiting on some cornflowers that also will go in the borders, and a yellow primrose lilac for an east-facing spot in front of the house.

The complete Drought Tolerant Garden, which will go here where we pulled out rosebushes, hasn’t arrived yet either:

Buh-bye, rose bushes.

Buh-bye, rose bushes.

The main theme in the front is “drought-tolerant, iffy-soil-tolerant plants.” The Clematis, Lilac, and Butterfly Bush are the indulgent exceptions.

In the back of the house, I spent an absolutely back-breaking half day digging out a 4×5 area of what I thought was soil but turned out to be more like the graveyard for someone’s rock collection with a bit of dirt mixed in. I recently learned that former owners of our home had covered much of the plantable property with a “rock garden,” and I fear much of it remains under a thin layer of topsoil, weed paper, and wood chips. SUPER! So I dug about 3 feet down in the 4×5 rectangle, and then began building it back up with bagged topsoil, a little dirt from the excavation pile, and some compost. Here’s an in-progress shot, after which a whole lot more digging was done:

Nothing like some manual labor to make you feel ALIVE.

Nothing like some manual labor to make you feel ALIVE.

After the batch of plants arrived, I planted 6 Lily-of-the-Valley pips (or whatever those pointy non-plant-looking things are called), a Bleeding Heart, and an All Summer Beauty Hydrangea. The hydrangea looked pretty bad when it arrived – very wilted – and I don’t think it’s going to make it. I expect I’ll be ordering a replacement. I’m not optimistic about the Bleeding Heart, either. With less than 2 weeks in the ground, the Lilys-of-the-Valley are already starting to shoot up a bit. So there’s one piece of good news.

Lilys-of-the-Valley, Bleeding Heart, (dying) Hydrangea

Lilys-of-the-Valley, Bleeding Heart, (dying) Hydrangea

Lily-of-the-Valley 2 weeks in the ground. It lives!

Lily-of-the-Valley 2 weeks in the ground. It lives!

I added the fencing around the rectangle to keep Oscar out. He recently discovered his deep passion for dirt, and he just about lost it when I was trying to plant this area and wouldn’t let him get right in there and help me dig. I had to put him in his kennel, or suffer the ear-splitting shrill bark of a maltipoo denied the right to furiously dig up my plantings. He loves dirt so much, when I filled a planting hole with water and turned away for a minute, I looked back to find him drinking the mud from the hole. A couple of times I’ve caught him burying his entire face in a fluffly pile of potting soil. I’m all for enthusiasm in the garden, but it’d really be a lot more helpful if he’d learn to pull weeds.

I ordered some Hostas for the back that have yet to arrive, and I have some Astilbes and Purple Wintercreepers that are in the produce drawer of the fridge. I physically couldn’t bring myself to do any more planting right after they arrived, but I plan to pull them out this weekend and get them planted.

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Farewell, Roses

Over the weekend, we dug out the 4 rosebushes in our front yard. A couple of them seemed quite old and well-established. There was digging, hacking, pulling, bending, and perhaps just a little cursing. But they’re out, finally.

I have to admit, I don’t really get “rose people.” I mean, I admire their passion for cultivating a beautiful plant, but roses are such a pain in the ass. They’re so terribly prone to all kinds of diseases and gross bugs. I had to prune our roses 4 times last year just to keep them from looking like scraggly ragamuffins. I’m just not cut out for it. Plus, I’m not into the country-cottage look at all.

In place of the roses, we’re putting in this drought-tolerant garden (illustration below). If I can keep all those plants alive until they’re established, I think it’ll look fantastic. It’s extremely dry here most of the year, so the less watering needed, the better. We’re even considering converting the little grass lawn we have to a drought-tolerant ground cover. But that’s a project for another year.

Drought-Tolerant Garden

Drought-Tolerant Garden

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