A Good Gardening Day

– Posted in: Garden chores

With the heat and incredible humidity we’ve been having, I’ve basically been ignoring the garden, with the exception of watering the few starts from a friend that I put in the ground just before this most recent heat wave began. Most of them are toast, anyway, despite my best efforts. But today, today was a Good Gardening Day. Although we missed the thunderstorm with its attendant rain, the “cold” front it ushered in is here with its reduced humidity and balmy breezes. Perfect weather for weeding, although I could wish the soil were moist.

First I tackled the Birthday Garden extension. The Birthday Garden is sandwiched between the house and the driveway. What I call the extension is the part that goes beyond the end of the house, and which could also rightly be regarded as the end of the bed that fronts the house. Confused yet? Anyway, it was all quite overgrown and most of the plants had been swallowed up by weeds. My husband had helped me give this bed an overhaul. We yanked out all weeds, shoveled on the manure, and forked it all in. Then I planted two of my Seneca Hill purchases, the lychnis and the centaurea, and moved in a small daylily from the smokebush bed whose tag had disintegrated (so I don’t know its name) and which was in danger of annihilation in its former home. Although this isn’t exactly a big space, it was still looking a little empty, so I moved in the last lingering daylilies from Kathy’s Folly. Then I was going to mulch, honest I was.

That was probably three weeks ago, easy, and you know what happened in the meantime. So, today I pulled all the weed seedlings and then, yes I did, I mulched it with wood chips. The Birthday Garden is a raised bed with a low dry-stacked stone wall holding it up. I trimmed the grass in front of this wall, and the results were gratifying. So gratifying that I went on to the peony bed, which I had never actually finished weeding earlier this spring, and did some painstaking weeding there. There are self-sown corn poppies there, which my husband loves, and some peony-flowered poppies, which I love, so I had to pull out weeds from amongst the precious poppies. I read on someone’s blog this spring a rule-of-thumb for how many poppies to pull, but I can’t remember which blog or the rule. (Anonymous blogger, if you read this, please identify yourself.) I know each poppy, to do its best, must have room, but I am loathe to give them what they need. What if the poppy I’m pulling is the poppy, the next ‘Lauren’s Grape’ or the extremely double pink that I meant to save the seeds from several years back, but didn’t? (If Rand B. Lee is reading this, I got the seed from you and would love to have more of it.) I didn’t mulch this bed, partly because I got hungry and partly because I didn’t want to overwork my wrist, which has never completely healed but has gotten to the point where I only get twinges unless I overdo.

It was great working in the garden and getting to the point where something actually looked good. Around here I have little islands of “looking good” in an ocean of weeds. Call it the Archipelago of Looking Good.

Southwest corner of birthday garden
Here you can see the newly mulched section with the unweeded jungle behind it. In the background to the far left the purple-leaved smokebush (Cotinus coggryia ‘Nordine Red’), which I’ve mentioned in other posts, is visible. Slightly to the right of that, and further in the background, is the Juneberry tree from which the Juneberry bed takes its name. If the photo had continued even further to your right, you would see the rest of the Birthday Garden, which borders the south side of the house. I was standing in the driveway when taking this photo.

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.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kathy Purdy July 6, 2005, 3:38 pm

I don’t know enough about Preen to have an opinion of it. Since I’m not paying myself to garden, I find it cheaper to weed it myself than to buy another product. I’d rather spend the money on plants! What I really need to do is make my garden smaller so it’s not so much to take care of. But I’d rather put up with the mess than make it smaller. I guess you could say I’ve made my bed, and now I have to lie–er, weed it.

Alice Nelson July 5, 2005, 7:49 pm

Do you have an aversion to Preen? It could save a lot of wear and tear on your wrist even though it isn’t organic. One bed we had put in for the city we didn’t get to again for less than 3 weeks, and it was filled with weeds. One weed in particular, which I haven’t seen before but I think may be in the tomato family, had grown so fast and furiously, already blooming,that it was a foot or more high and hiding all the plants in that area. It surrounded a large boulder for a foot or more in all directions. I believe I pulled about a bushel and a half of it. It had grown so fast in such a short time that it had not shaded out the plants under it yet, although they are all sunlovers. This is why I find it important in my work to use Preen.We are now using it on that bed. I don’t have enough workers and the city doesn’t have enough of either money or volunteers!