Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Glorious (glorious) Garden Day!

My garden beds out front had definitely gotten away from me, weed-wise. There were several four-foot-high yellow alfalfas, as many goat's beards that tall and a volunteer Artemisia absinthium which I swear grew overnight into a bush three foot high and just as wide.  The dandelions were galloping along at a fearsome rate and bindweed was strangling everything it could drag itself to and throw a hook on.

Ian had come last Sunday and planted eight annuals, red and white petunias, and red geraniums, and a lovely Red Twig Dogwood Cornus Alba 'Elegantissima', because once the bulbs have fizzled there's not much going on in a perennial garden for the next few weeks, and I needed something that will just sit there and bloom all summer.

The poppies have enormous fat buds, but so far show no sign of opening. Everything else is gulping in sun and moisture and warmth and growing like stink, but blooms on most will come and go. I'm so desperate to fill in the empty space between my dark-leaved coral bells that I left a vigorous sulpher cinquefoil, a decision I am bound to regret in time.

I finally called Kevin, our landscape maintenance contractor, and cried "Help!" I asked him to send two sturdy young men I could supervise, as they tend to leave the weeds and pull the flowers. And I ordered a truckload of  shredded cedar mulch, the kind that's dyed black. It will warm the soil in spring and keep the bleeping weeds down.

So, we arranged for  two young men at 2:00 pm today, and instead I got two young men at a quarter to 10:00, which meant I was still in my jams and had just poured my morning cuppa when the phone rang announcing their arrival. Aiiiiii. I dressed, wet down my cowlick, grabbed my pruning shears and the walker and wobbled my way downstairs.

Fred and Kyle hit the beds and the way of the weed was gone. GONE.  That Artemisia was a pill to get out. For something that had grown up in two weeks it had a formidable root system that required digging, then prying out with a long handled shovel and, in the end, pruning shears to get the roots. We had no choice but to leave some root in. There were other plants too close. It's gonna come back. I'm going to fight that thing until the day I turn toes up or sell this place. But for now it's gone.

Still needs a bit of broom work
It took a good two hours to get all the beds weeded. But once the weeds were gone out came that beautiful black mulch. Boy the colours just pop against that mulch. Every leaf and every (right now sparse) blossom, though the Puschkinia scilloides (striped squills) are blooming. I wanted the shredded stuff because the nuggets get off in the lawn and when picked up by the mower they become unguided missiles.

After the beds were mulched we set the new topiaries in the new pots we bought last fall. I still have to go out and finish those off. I have ivy to wire in around the base, but we anchored the topiaries with a concrete block so our famous wind (or one of drunken tenants) doesn't pluck them from the pot and hurl them into the street, which is what happened with our last topiaries. 

It was a good four hours work for two and I probably did what one of them did in 30 minutes, but I worked off and on the entire time. But it looks great. I need to replace two shrubs which were severely damaged by the winter, and am not sure what to plant. Needs to be hardy to zone 3, deciduous, able to take morning sun, but not requiring full sun. Any suggestions?


smm said...

I wish I had your ability to tell a weed from a flower but alas not a skill I attained.

Everything seems really early here. I know we are way ahead of the rest of the country but this year it is just way early for EVERYTHING.

How about a potentilla ?

Deb said...

Believe me, there were a few I had to look up. Took me a good hour to identify that Sulpher cinquefoil. It has beautiful foliage, insignificant blossoms as far as I can tell, though they are just starting to open. They are hardly bigger than the head of a silk pin, bright yellow, but without them there's a huge hole between the two dark-leaved coral bells. I may try and find some more well-behaved annual to put between there and tear the cinquefoil out.

I'm going to look for a pink-flowered potentilla to replace one of those shrubs. I'd like a weeping Japanese maple for the other. It can't be too big, and it would be nice to have winter interest in the form.

I'd like to put another cornus alba in, because they have great red stems in the winter, but they require dappled shade and both these spots get blazing, scalding sun.

Are you still growing tomatoes and peppers in your greenhouse?

smm said...

I currently have three tomato plants and three pepper plants. There are tomatoes already forming on one and flowers on the other two. All three peppers are about to open up a flower bud or two. So far so good.