I love teaching about gardening, especially at The Older Adult Learning Center of our local university. But I am ashamed to admit I do not always practice what I preach in my community gardening programs. I feel it is time I fessed up. They say that confession is good for the soul, so here are some of my gardening sins. I will first state what I teach, and then tell what I actually do:
- Give each plant the conditions it needs to thrive. We often describe this as putting "the right plant in the right place." However, I seem convinced I can defy Mother Nature. That is why I planted the two spirea (in the picture above) in the shade garden. I wanted to introduce a shrub with light colored leaves, as I thought I had too much dark green there. I know very well that spirea needs full sun, and the shade garden is ... well, shady. The shrubs looked great when I took this photo (this morning), but I am afraid they will have very few blooms. I'm glad to say the climbing hydrangea on the fence behind the spirea, and the deadnettle in front, are doing very well because THEY have the conditions they need. Likewise, the bleeding heart (below) is very happy this year, since I moved it from deep shade to the part shade it prefers.
- Rotate your crops. I am pleased to say I do this faithfully with my vegetables. I have a four-year rotation system that ensures diseases are not passed on from year to year. Unfortunately, I do not always remember this with my annual flowers. I planted zinnias around my wall fountain (in the picture below) every year for several years, resulting in zinnia leaf spot disease each time. Now I find new places for them each year. Choosing more disease-resistant varieties helps, too.
- Label plants when you put them in the ground. This is important for its location as well as its name. When there is no marker, I sometimes forget in the spring and have been known to pull out new growth thinking it is a weed. In the summer, when someone is admiring the plant, I am saved embarrassment by having its name right there. The old memory is not what it was.
I think this is Hermerocalis "Chicago Apache", but there is no marker ,,,,
... and is this Hermerocalis "Chorus Line?"
- Don't buy by impulse! The consequence can be great, but it can also be a disaster, such as the obedient plant that is spreading profusely and taking over my world! But who could resist this cute Chinese celandine poppy?...
Fortunately, I found a great spot for it and it works ....
- Clean and sharpen your gardening tools every year. I have this on the Fall Tasks list for my students, and I tell them if not accomplished then, it must be done in the spring. Oops! I just butchered a rose bush with blunt cross-secateurs. Fortunately, HH came to my rescue with a new pair.
- Put peony supports in place before the plant grows too tall. Hurray, I did not miss the window of opportunity this year ....
- Get a soil test. You can purchase a kit at your local Extension office (ours are $9 each) and the resulting information is invaluable. So why don't I do this? I will quickly change the subject ... please call it "soil" not "dirt." This is an American foible that I am sometimes guilty of myself. Remember ... Soil is the substance you grow plants in; dirt is the substance behind my refrigerator.
This is by no means the end of my list, but I think I have incriminated myself enough, and have probably lost all credibility with my students.
In conclusion, here are some new bloom in my garden, today:
Bridal veil spirea
Lily of the Valley
Wishing you a very happy May!
~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
In return, I will leave a comment on your blog.