Marty's Gardening Journal, June 21st, 2014
I tend my garden. Tidying up, weeding, I realize I should have mulched very early this spring before my garden awakened. It would have been so easy to spread mulch on bare ground rather than mulching around plants. Now I will have to wait till late fall when plants go dormant again to attend to that task. Mulching the backyard in late fall is no picnic as the temperature drops and the wind blows through, but it beats pulling weeds by hand for months. The mulch will also moderate the soil temperature and moisture during the seasons, all while provide nutrients to the plants as it decomposes.
As I get the garden in shape for summer and the annual visit by our garden club, I cast a critical eye. The foliage of spring bulbs is still very visible, although slowly dying off and drying up. It is always tempting to remove this messy tangle of green and browning leaves but the bulbs are slowly reabsorbing nutrients from the leaves for next year’s flower. The foliage from bulbs such as daffodils and tulips need a minimum of six weeks to –as it is called- ripen. Then the leaves are shriveled up, they have turned brown and a slight tug will remove this unsightly mess. Meanwhile the bulbs will snooze underground, undisturbed by hot weather, lack of water, or freezing temperatures later on before they beguile us once more when we need it most.
A neighbor’s obsession with hosta has spread to my garden. Plain old green hostas growing in the garden for years were dug up and given away. Newer varieties were planted. My tri-colored (pink, green and white) Hakuro nishiki willows (Salix integra aka Japanese dappled shaded willows) now have hosta patriot (green and white) surrounding their trunks. Blue mouse ears, a miniature blue green hosta with small rounded leaves started my miniature hosta collection. Now I showcase these small treasures at the foot of Miss Kim lilacs in a bed going up to the front door. Meanwhile a newly purchased ‘captain Kirk’ hosta has found a home in the backyard.
Last year I edited my garden and removed all those plants which I no longer cared for (it happens!) or for which conditions were no longer optimum. Starting out nearly 17 years ago with a sunny yard, by now I have created shaded areas which are more conducive to ferns (or hostas!) than to roses or day lilies, to name just two. All of the dug up plants were given a new home in other gardens, while I happily move plants around until I get it just right; for now at least. A small retaining wall showcases my various agaves in one of the few remaining sunny spots in the garden. I putter in the garden while doing laps around the house; front garden with beds and a little lawn; back garden, gazebo and patio; front and back pond. Every planted inch, each square foot of garden has been gone over; so many plants, yet not enough garden.