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I’m sure my tall, proud grandmother (who once said that people would judge me by my clothesline) would call Robert’s garden an eyesore. She’d probably make him go cut a switch and stand over him until he cleaned it up.
But I think my friend’s garden has much hidden beauty.
First–his garden is thrifty
Robert comes from the “use what you have” school of life. Old political and home for sale signs suppress weeds which can grow head high in his Clayton garden. Ditto the trashed carpet which has kept his paths clear for several years.
He starts his vegetables from saved seeds, cuttings, plant-gifts and suckers. He ties them up with strips of torn fabric that he saves until they rot.
Robert doesn’t like to waste anything if he can find a use for it in the garden. Grandmother would very much approve.
Secondly-his garden is very productive:
From home-grown asparagus in the spring to the last tomatoes and squash of fall–Robert grows and picks. His lovely wife cooks. Together they enjoy eating wonderfully fresh produce from this small, trashy plot for about half the year.
That’s a big accompolishment!
So while his garden will never make the pages of Southern Living Magazine, he could very well end up in Gourmet.
PS. If you have close neighbors, please don’t try this style of gardening at home. (Robert has lots of land and no one sees his garden but the gardener)
But please do think about using more–wasting less. And never forget that growing something you can eat is a great joy. No grandma switches there–
So I returned from my travels to one of my favorite seasons here in NC…glorious spring. And what did I see when I arrived….my bulbs all in bloom. If you remember back in the fall, I wrote about my laborious exercise in researching how to shop for bulbs and then the follow up laborious activity of actually planting those more than 200 bulbs…and combine that with my post on how the garden has taught me patience…what do you get? My absolute amazement with this showy display of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths in my yard. It is truly a bulb blooming bonanza. It took my breathe away. It reassured me that often times patience does has its rewards and, in this case at least, has outperformed my wildest expectations.
Here are a few things to do now:
1- ENJOY….walk outside more, cut them and put them in your house, look back at photos when that part of your garden was bare…or in my case overgrown with my nemesis plant–English Ivy.
2-Take pictures. You will want to know what your yard looks with each burst of blooms, so you can plan for next fall. Also document when each variety blooms, so you can better decide in the fall what you need to plant more of to extend the season.
3-Share. Cut them and share them with your friends, family and neighbors. You never know, you may inspire someone to add more bulbs to their garden.
4. Brag. You deserve it. You took the time in the fall to plan and plant those little nuggets of wonder to wait almost 6 months for the pay off.
5. Leverage your joy and pride to plant more and sustain your gardening throughout the spring season. It is my favorite, but it is the season that gardners literally work the most. Pruning, preparing, mulching, mowing, planting(inside and out), weeding….You need the energy to sustain you for the season.
Oh….blog partner, Chris, was right…they are so much better in bunches. Last year I had a few here and a few there. I had them in these rows as if they were these little British soldiers lined up for battle. This time…I planted them in bunches….asymmetric, almost wild. Boy, do they shine in that formation. You should plant more bulbs…and always in bunches.
What about you? Are your bulbs in a full blooming Bonanza? Tell us about them.
Who says our lawns have to flow together? All around my suburban neighborhood I see people giving their best garden space to grass.
I say dig it up! Buffer, screen, create mixed borders that change with the season. They’re good for the soul, insects and wildlife. They create a sense of enclosure that makes us all feel a little safer. Most of all they give us space to try new plants and plan for four seasons of interest.
Below are the 22 different kinds of plants blooming today–February 27th, 2011– in the mixed beds around our house in Apex, NC.
1) Daffodils–3 varieties
4) Forsythia (yellow and white)
6) Lenten Rose
8) Texas Scarlet Quince
10) Sweet breath of Spring (Lonceria fragmantisma)
11) Winter Daphne
12) Winter Iris
14) Camellia Japonica–several varieties
15) Prunus mume (two varieties)
16) Prunus Altumnalis
18) Native redbud tree
19) Bearsfoot Helleborus
20) Robbs Spurge
22) Edgeworthia Snow Cream
Many of these plants are fragrant. Some make great cut flowers. All are most welcome after cold winter days. And grass…well it’s green. Ok, that’s nice, but how much of it do you really need?
One more thing to consider while we’re all thinking about turf–Does it really need to be perfect? I think not. Of course, I love running barefoot through blades of green. But perfect grass takes a lot of time, money, fertilizer, water, and weed killer.
Again–I think not.
I’ve decided my ideal lawn would be a small oval with lots of clover. I’d let it bloom between mowings to attract lots of honey bees for the flowers and vegetables. Now if I can just convince my husband….
That’s the first lesson–plant now. Thanksgiving week has always been my target for spring bulb planting. And the weather right now is perfect for working outside. If you wait much longer, you run a big risk of getting too busy and forgetting.
Bulbs almost always come with instructions. Skim them to determine planting depth. Then save the labels or write down the bulb names so you can remember then next spring. That’s lesson 2–you don’t think you’ll forget, but you do.
# 3–Plant in clusters, not lines or rows. It must be my farmer genes that make me want to dig long, narrow holes. When planting bulbs, I make myself dig almost square holes, or zigzags that are 2 or 3 feet across. 10-12 bulbs go in each. Then remember to cluster your clusters. No one wants little dots of color all over the garden. Bulbs are small, so plant en mass for big displays.
#4–Early bloomers go in the back, later bloomer in the front of your view. Otherwise you’ll look though the yellowing foliage of February Gold, to view the delicate Hawera that bloom in April. And remember, daffodils always turn to the sun which is in the South in winter. On one side of my woods path, the flowers show me their backsides. I should have planted them on the other side for a better display.
#5–Use good fertilizer in your (generous-sized) holes. I like organic Bulb Tone, but there are other good products made just for bulbs. Skip the bone meal. It was good in your grandma’s day, (she probably ground her own bones) but has few nutrients now due to the way they process these things.
Final Lesson. In spring, take pictures of your new bulbs and your blank spaces. Then you’ll have a plan when you plant more bulbs next fall. And keep perennial bulbs out of beds that you dig and redig often. At almost $1 a piece, no one likes accidentally splitting daffodil bulbs with shovels.
All that said, daffodils and other spring bulbs are one of the great joys of my garden. Don’t miss them. Plant a bunch this week. (Which reminds me, I think I need to buy some more.)
If I could grow only one small tree, it would be the Autumn Flowering Cherry–Prunus subhirtella ”Autumnalis”. In bloom right now, it has a big flush of white to light pink flowers in the spring, another round of blossoms in the fall and often puts out a few blooms to lift my spirits right after Christmas. (These are the best of all)
My tree is about 20 years old, and about 12 feet tall. It’s planted in the edge of the woods–I’m sure it would enjoy more sun–still the shape is nice. This is a great flowering tree!
Only two questions come to mind about Prunus Autumnalis–why you don’t see this wonderful plant more often, and why I only have one.
Which brings me to another fall favorite–Camellia sasanqua (Wm Lanier Hunt). I’ve raved about this favorite shrub before, so I’ll let my photos do the talking this time.
If I could grow only one shrub, Wm Hunt would be it.
Favorite fall border plant? Salvia Van Houttei–the original garnet red one. This is a wonderful color and a big, bold plant for the season. It’s tender in our climate (zone 7b) so I dig it up and carry it over indoors. Worth the trouble? You bet. Wouldn’t be without it.
Remember the old (and true) saying–All gardens are beautiful in the spring.
Plan for a garden that shines in other seasons–like fall–a great time to garden in NC.