Leave it be!

It’s that time of the year again; garden and yard cleanup! The chore of getting all the old debris and fallen leaves out of the flower beds should really be put off until after the last frost, but most of us just can’t help ourselves.

We see new life sprouting up from the ground; and as a way of greeting our favorite perennial plants, we prematurely pull away the leaves that might have protected them against a cold snap. Leaves and plant debris around the soil can act to insulate against frosty temperatures. Continue reading “Leave it be!”

Brighten the corner where you are

In the few garden notes that I manage to keep, it is understood that the “corner garden” refers to a small patch of ground bordered on three sides, and having three corners.

It started out as the pointy space where the driveway meets the sidewalk going up to the front steps, and eventually was extended to include the whole triangle bordered by the sidewalk, driveway, and the west wall of the house. In it is buried our first pet, Muffin the cat, beneath the aging crape myrtle tree.

This was the first flower garden that we planted after we moved in, Continue reading “Brighten the corner where you are”

Calling evil good, and good evil

Shakespeare put the question, “What’s in a name?”

I choose my flower varieties on their own merits — appearance, ease of culture, hardiness, taste, etcetera. However, while putting together a design for a renovated flower bed, it became apparent that some of the gorgeous members of the new color collection had some very questionable names. Continue reading “Calling evil good, and good evil”

Going, going, gone!

Drawn Swords, Blueberry Tart, Xanthippe’s Halo. These are part of the now nonexistent collection for which I still wistfully keep records. It might be the horticultural equivalent of an obituary column, where we mourn the passing of loved ones. I might replace some of them, but for now they are simply fond memories.

Every gardener has her list of failures, and mine gets longer every year. This year it was my seven-foot tall brugmansia that succumbed to a very hard frost. Even in the garage, it was too cold for this favorite to stay alive. One day it was full of blooms, filling the garage with the most wonderful fragrance; the next day the whole tree was brown and limp. Continue reading “Going, going, gone!”

When the eye is bad

Any reader of this column will know by now that I just love the daylilies with the dark “eye zones,” or centers.

“Moonlit Masquerade,” “Raspberry Candy,” and “Carpetbagger” are some of my favorites, with their dark eye zone giving the blooms a stark contrast. They have a certain appeal, and they also remind us of a basic Bible truth about our spiritual sight. Continue reading “When the eye is bad”

Is it not small?

Zoar. It was just a small town, but the results of settling there was far from insignificant. That’s what I was thinking about this morning as I pulled out several hundred tiny weeds from around the hydrangeas.

Last week saw temperatures near zero in our area, and the tropical plants that usually live in the garage over the winter froze solid, soil and all. Gone is the seven-foot potted brugmansia that I grew from an eight-inch cutting several years ago. O, how the mighty have fallen!

And yet, the half-inch tall weed sprouts outside in the garden are as healthy as can be! If anyone gets a constant reminder that life isn’t fair, it is the home gardener. Continue reading “Is it not small?”

True Blue

What’s your favorite color? Chances are, if you are like the largest percentage of the population, it’s blue.

If you are a gardener, you are not in luck, if that’s the case. True blue color is not that common in the plant world. The color blue occurs in less than ten percent of the plant world’s 280,000 flowering species, according to a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami. Continue reading “True Blue”

The whole thing

The weather forecast warned of high winds, so it was no surprise that the shrieking gusts persisted late into the evening. It only took two steps onto the back porch the next morning to see the portable shed, set up only a few months ago, was destroyed. It was upended, and its frame lay like a giant, dead, twisted spider in the tomato garden.

The various pots and garden tools, never as picturesque as the clay pot groupings in the garden magazines anyway, were now littered across the neighbor’s yard. Continue reading “The whole thing”