Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's Back!!!!

I used to write a monthly column for a garden newsletter.  And an advice column - Sage Advice by Mary A. Gardener.  Excellent advice, if I do say so myself.  Then I stopped.  And lots of people said they missed it - so I began to count, and I promised myself if it got to 100 asks, I would start again.  Just the column, unless you start asking questions.

So here it is - complete with a monthly to-do in the garden, courtesy of Sloat Garden Center (I go to the one in Danville, and if you haven't been there lately, you are missing out.  Cool stuff, kind caring smart staff, plants that will make you drool.)

Postcard From The Hedge - July 2013

We were away for more than four weeks, and I barely recognize my garden.  Hollyhocks that were ruffled leaves all in a clump when we left, sort of like a horticultural mop, have bloomed on tall spires and are now bent over, with a few shiny hot pink ballet dresses at the ends of the branches, and black seeds bursting out of wheel-shaped papery casings.  I bet they were spectacular - I'm sorry I missed it.  I'm spreading seed and hoping I'm home for the show next year.  Call me if you want some seeds.

The quince has grown three feet taller, and has flung out arms to block the path.  As I tried to breeze by a big fuzzy fruit knocked me on the the arm.  Ouch.   It was hidden by leaves - not any more.  It's now in a vase on the hall table.

The Boston ivy is trying to become curtains, sending feelers over the kitchen and family room windows, and thru the bedroom screens.  It's gonna be a bear to get out of the screens.  The wisteria had blocked my garage door, and I couldn't get my car out.  If I were my aunt, I'd move.  She used to say "Johnny, the ash tray is full.  It's time to get a new car!"

The Philadelphus has blocked the window by the tub, the one that goes all the way down so I can sit in the tub and see out.  Not any more - not until I prune.  But I could bathe at mid-day and have total privacy.  Of course I'd be even more wrinkly...maybe I'll grab the loppers and head out.

I remember the first time we swam in the pool - the gunite guys had just left, it wasn't balanced or chlorinated - but we couldn't wait a week, so we slipped off our clothes and went skinny dipping.  After dark.  Then we could rest our chins on the downhill edge of the pool and see the street, and the car lights illuminated us slithering out without clothes - or towels.  Oops.

Now you can't see the pool from the path just a few feet below the downhill edge, and you can't see into the garden from the street, for the English laurel is tall and dense.  When did that happen?

I remember that first December, our garden was new, and Najat was giving a wreath workshop.  Bring your own greens.  I tiptoed around the garden, snipping a leaf here and a leaf there, dismayed at the vastly reduced and sometimes lopsided plants that were left.  That year I brought one produce bag full.  Not nearly enough.  Thank goodness for generous friends.  This year I had Norberto haul away truckloads of greens and branches, and there will still be enough to cut for wreaths for all my friends and family.  And probably the whole town of Danville.  Greens, anyone?

Rose campion, the unfortunately named Lychnis coronaria, has bloomed and seeded in the front, forget-me-nots that I cut back in spring are sheets of blue.  I used to have an organized garden, plants carefully placed for color and texture, but I am enchanted by the self-seeders and I think I'm moving toward a cottage garden.  Complete with herbs and vegetables among the flowers.  Including some truly dreadful tomatoes.  If you're going to home-grow tomatoes, the least they can do is be tasty!  They were labeled Sweet 100.  They are not.  Mealy and thick-skinned and boring.  Oh well, there's always next year...

To Do this month in the garden - from Sloat Garden Center: 
July 2013

• Summer flowers abound! Fill your garden with color that will carry you through until fall such as cosmos, snapdragons, salvias, lisianthus, vinca rosea and zinnias.

• Feed vegetables, perennials, containers, hanging baskets with a water-soluble fertilizer such as E.B. Stone Fish Emulsion or Maxsea All Purpose Fertilizer. Avoid feeding during the heat of day.
• Fertilize camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons with E.B. Stone Organics AzaleaCamellia andGardenia Food.

• Cut or pinch off spent flowers to promote more blooms. Finish pruning all spring-flowering shrubs.
• Spray evergreens & shrubs with CloudCover to reduce drought stress.
• Mulch all garden beds with Sloat’s Forest Mulch Plus to protect from summer heat and keep garden maintenance down

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