Monday, May 18, 2015

Crazy Busy...

I'm sorry I haven't posted for over a week -- this last week or so has been Crazy Busy (that's an official designation) for me and my family:

  • I've been trying to earn some hours for my Master Gardener qualification; I need 40 this year and have worked nine of the sixteen I have accrued so far just in the past week.
  • The last two Saturday mornings were spent working as a volunteer at local plant sales (and the Saturday before last we also went to the Pella, Iowa Tulip Festival in the afternoon). 
  • Plant shopping at local nurseries takes a fair amount of time at this time of year.
  • And of course every May is the height of the gardening season, when I try to spend several hours each day working outside planting all the things I've bought -- if it isn't raining or nasty cold and windy (although it's been horrendously windy that past few days and I've still worked outside...).

Here are a few of the things I've been doing in my gardens:

BEFORE: This photo was taken ten days ago. You can see how large the boxwood shrubs in my Herb Garden have gotten since I planted them in 2008. The back left bed was almost eclipsed by the shrubs, leaving little room for the basil that barely grew there last year.

AFTER: It only takes a couple of hours once a year to trim the hedges and rake up the clippings (there was a large volume of clippings to rake this year, as you can see). Much neater, and much more sunlight and room for my basil this year. I also added compost to the beds and they are now ready for planting.

My Cutting Garden has been downsized to just these nearest four beds (the other beds are for vegetables -- my husband's domain). I planted annuals from seed in the closest bed, perennials in the right-most bed and annual bulbs like dahlias, cannas and gladiolus in the other two,

I've added more perennials to my Yellow Garden, both to replace ones that died over the winter (the heavy clay soil is not agreeable to some yellow-flowering prairie plants), as well as to fill out the bed. I also planted a few annuals such as marigolds, snapdragons and petunias.
I've planted more rhododendrons, half a dozen tree and Itoh peonies, several hardy hibiscus and a few more miscellaneous shrubs in the North Island that I began last year. It's starting to fill up properly now, and all that's left to plant will be some groups of spring bulbs this fall or maybe next fall.
This bed had become unmanageable because it was too large (it was our original vegetable garden). I had planted roses in the near end of it along with four o'clocks (to disguise the Japanese beetle defoliated canes later in the summer), but I didn't have (or want) enough roses to completely fill the bed. So I moved the roses to the reduced mulched area on this side of the row of mature peonies and I'll return the remaining area to grass. What a strange thing for a gardener: to make a bed SMALLER!

I dug three rose plants out of each of the beds in front of my porch (on either side of the middle steps), and planted some non-thorny perennials in their place and moved the roses to other locations. There are still climbing roses on the pillars.
*Note the position of the porch swing and the bench cushions to get an idea of the kind of wind we've been having on our windy hilltop (the swing weighs about 40 pounds).

It's hard to work outside in fierce winds for very long -- it really saps a person's strength. However, the wind is much better than the gnats that would be swarming if it were still, so I'm not really complaining... :-)

As usual for this time of year, my disused muscles are aching, but I'm happy to be able to improve my gardens a bit at a time. I'll follow this post with some pictures of the lovely flowers that are the result of my previous years' efforts.

Thanks for reading! -Beth


  1. So much work and so little time to garden...everything is looking wonderful there....I am trying to get rid of more grass as it has encroached on beds....our crazy weather has limited my time in the garden, and weeding is desperately needed soon.

    1. Hi Donna, I totally feel your pain about the grass and weeds in beds -- it's a constant struggle, isn't it? Hope your weather soon cooperates so you can enjoy your work in your gardens. thanks for reading! -Beth