It can’t be almost Memorial Day — can it? I have to say these last few months seem to be a blur. Spring is always a busy time here, and this year is no exception. With social distancing so important now, I am grateful to have the garden and a long list of projects to distract me from what is looming all around. I hope all my readers are safe and healthy as well. Mother Nature is not stopping, I am very glad to say. And if there is a silver lining to all this, she shows us life goes on.
I have lots to share today, and I hope these gardening tips will help and the freshness of the season will uplift. My goal this year is to use what’s available to me here in the garden, to eliminate as much as possible my reliance on shopping for the items I need.
Just as Spring started to pop, we were so happy to have a visit with the fox family. Mom and Dad fox brought their 3 adorable little kittens, and stayed for a few weeks. They all look very healthy, and it was our pleasure to watch them grow from our windows.
This was my first big project of the year: renovating the back SE corner of the yard. My beautiful honeysuckle bush just could not tolerate the overwhelming amount of water from the neighboring yard. It broke my heart to remove it, but there was no chance of it recovering. I increased the size of the garden about 200 square feet and installed lots of extra perennials that I split and divided from other areas of the yard. These are more suited to the damp feet they get from the extra water, and I am hoping they will thrive in their new location. I added an ornamental maidenhair grass, more hosta, two varieties of iris, blackberry lily, liatris and yarrow. I beefed up the soil with lots of organic matter — leaf compost and grass clippings do wonders for absorbing the excess — and then after I installed the plants, I added more leaf compost as mulch to dress up the surface. The iris are starting to bloom now, and the rest will provide lots more color from these perennials as summer progresses.
This path area from the back walkway down to the yard, which I worked on last fall, has filled out nicely. I was able to smooth it out by filling in the deep margin between the garden and the grass with extra clumps of grass from the back corner project. The rainwater from the downspout tends to race down that margin, deepening it, and needs periodic filling in. I have tried filling it in with river rocks in the past, but find that actual sod pieces hold stronger, and divert the rain out into the grass much better.
Here in the east garden, things have grown so large. I have now gotten this side of the garden to fill in and accomplish a beautiful screening effect from the cul du sac beyond. In a month this will be all flowering, but I love the early green it brings in spring. To me, the all-green scape is so peaceful. The various shades of green and the variety of textures are important aspects when choosing the plant material. The crepe myrtles have become home to many cardinal and bluejay nests this year, and I increased the area under the far curly willow to fill in with more summer blooming lilies. The whole area has been top dressed here as well with more leaf compost. I like to add nutrients this way — it’s naturally slow release, and I collect it from the county park just up the street (for free!). So that’s an added bonus, too!
Surrounding the lower patio, the flowers are amazing this year. They really like the sheltered effect that they get from the winds of winter in this spot. The roses have bloomed like never before, and the lamb’s ears, iris, peony, lily of the valley and wisteria have grown beyond measure! I will have plenty to share from here, come fall! I use a triple action product on the roses that provides food and protection from diseases and insects. Thankfully, I had just the right amount for all six rose bushes left over from last year. This is applied 3 times during the growing season, about 2 months apart, for the perfect amount of care.
I have had some people ask what’s behind the lattice panels below the back deck. This area gives me a spot for shade-loving plants like the climbing hydrangea in the large pot, ginger, hosta, and many others. I also use this area as a nursery to start small plants, and to store some of the necessities of life, like the trash bins, hoses and my potting shed and tool hutch. It keeps things neatly tucked away to keep the garden area free. I actually created a cobble stone floor with rocks I dug up while gardening. We recycle everything around here!
On my one and only outing to the outdoor nursery, I did pick up this great seed starting tray. And since I’m doing my best to DIY this year, I planted zinnia seeds. Five days later, I have sprouts already! I had forgotten how fun it is to start my own annual flowers from seeds. If you have kids around, this is a great project for education and fun!
Here’s one more photo of our adorable fox kittens! I’m off to finish up some more projects. In the mean time — stay well, and Happy Gardening!