In the Garden

– Posted in: Garden chores

It took me approximately 5 hours to plant 5 plants yesterday, but boy, did I have fun. They were mail-order plants that I potted on soon after I got them, because I knew it would take me a while to clear out the place where I intended them to go. But even though they had plenty of root room, the lowest leaves kept yellowing and dropping off, which did not seem to me to be a good sign. Somehow it seems worse (probably because both the horticultural and the frugal parts of me are involved) when a plant I paid good money for is not thriving, as opposed to a plant I was given. So I was feeling a bit panicky about these particular plants, though for all I know, it is their natural habit to drop their lowest leaves.

It took so long because I wanted them to go in the back of an established bed, in amongst ferns already growing there, and the back of the bed wasn’t weeded. So it was one of those deals where you have to be careful where you step, and you’re always off-balance and using your tools in awkward positions, and you can’t do anything (like watering or spreading mulch) in the most efficient way.

It used to be I tried to do everything the “right” way. I got out every weed by the roots, even if it meant lifting and resetting plants. And I never wanted to mulch until an entire bed was all done. I am starting to rethink some of these practices in light of my continuing inability to stay on top of the garden’s maintenance. I’ve come to realize it’s better to pull a weed, even if you can’t get every last bit of root, than to wait for a better time, and wind up letting the weed go to seed. And you don’t lift and reset plants in July, not unless you want to be an irrigation slave, which I don’t have the inclination or the time for. And it’s better to mulch what little I’ve gotten done, because it could be another couple of weeks before I can get back to what I was doing, and in the meantime the rain will bring on another crop of weeds, or there will be drought. Mulch helps with both situations. Mulching around established plants is tedious, but it’s like money in the bank; it pays dividends.

I’m starting to realize that I rarely have substantial chunks of time to work in the garden. I have to think in terms of square feet, not entire beds, when I think of gardening, and work on mini-projects and intermediate goals. So the work I did yesterday covered no more that 2 square yards, but when I was done, it was all weeded, mulched, and watered. It looked nice, and I felt good. The tired, sweaty, scratched and dirty kind of good that only another gardener knows about.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

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Kathy July 18, 2004, 5:23 pm

They were (are) 5 Lunaria annua variegata alba, which I received from Judy Miller of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery. I didn’t mention what they were because I didn’t want Judy thinking I wasn’t taking good care of the plants I got from her. Since they are biennials, I wasn’t expecting them to do more than make low growth this year, and I’m still not sure if the bottom leaves yellowing is normal or not. At any rate, they certainly haven’t completely defoliated. New leaves continue to emerge and grow. I had grown this plant from seed before myself, but I only got two plants, only one of which survived, and it didn’t set much seed, and none of that seed grew for me. So I’m hoping that by starting out with 5 plants I can get a self-sowing population going. They should admirably play off the other green and white plants in this part of the garden.

jenn July 18, 2004, 4:56 pm

What were the plants?

I had a japanese anemone from White Flower farm that I almost tossed. Same thing, they came in, I potted them up, and this plant immediately lost all its foliage.

I stuck the pot out on a bench with others to be dumped to the dirt pile and low and behold, about two weeks later up comes new growth.

Sometimes haste really does make waste.
And being a lazy*** can pay off…