On a Mission

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer 

It was Tuesday, May 10, late in the afternoon. The 95-degree heat was beginning to abate, and I had just heard the latest weather forecast. Rain–and lots of it–in the offing. I couldn’t have been more pleased. If the rain arrived on schedule, I was going to have more planting done before its onset.

 Beth and I agreed dinner could wait–we had to plant–now!!! Out went the flat of perennials I’d received from Bluestone a week earlier. They had their metal stakes and Braille labels assigned, and it was time to place them in the perennial gardens. I was surprised, and not pleased, by how dry the soil was, even a foot down. I knew beforehand where I was going to place these plants, so the job went fairly quickly. With a favorable forecast, and the plants spending time in the water filled trays, they would be all right for a couple of days in dry ground.

I also had a placement map in mind for the new annuals I’d purchased at Goods the day before. Out came my trowel, Lucy, and a flat of plants. The new raised bed on the east side of the house was the target. I had figured, and rightly so, that I could get four plants in each row.  I did not Braille label in this case, as I knew the plants by touch. Marigolds in the front, followed by zinnias, asters, snapdragons, gerbera daisies and carnations in the back. I love raised beds. So easy to plant, water and maintain.

While at the Master Gardener plant sale, I had also purchased a nice pot of iris at an adjacent sale in the Botanical Center. It went into a vacant space in the apple tree garden where a previous iris had bitten the dust over the winter. I don’t know what color it is (neither does Beth, as there is no label as such), but the specimen is healthy, and I had a place for it. Odds are very good it will not bloom until next year, so we’ll just have to wait. I found its place as I had put a stake with a Braille label in the ground where the previous iris cultivar was planted.

Mission accomplished, it was time to make dinner, and to relax to hear a baseball game.

The rain on Wednesday arrived as forecast, about an inch, which was absolutely perfect. The rain was sporadic, began about 9 a.m., and didn’t end until 11:30 that night. What great timing to get all those plants in the ground. This was the day to run a few errands involving the garden. This included a stop at a hardware store to purchase a board for the raised herb bed. Beth had noticed that a bottom board on the west side was rotting out. She and I had taken measurements earlier in the week, but when we got the board home, we found it was a tiny bit long. Oh, for a good planer!! Lacking one, it was time to do some sanding. Later that day, between raindrops, we took after this project and got the board sanded down to the correct length. I had been cooped up all day, and the exercise did me good.

One of our goals is to always stop at one new greenhouse each year. So, on Thursday morning we headed out to Piney Ridge in Johnston. We were about planted out, but it is always nice to look–as a reference for next year, and to check out the stock to see if we’ve missed something. We bought two ajuga, as we are placing ground cover in a small fenced area under the magnolia tree. The grass crop gets thinner each year, and we have placed a variety of ground covers in this area each year. I am still seeking sweet woodruff, but a couple of my master gardener friends have promised to come through. I have never seen it before, so this will be a new experience. The same is true for the ajuga. It appears to be a bit nondescript, so I hope Beth kept the labels near the plants.

Since the morning was cloudy and damp, it was a good time for Beth to begin to treat the wood that’ll replace the rotted board in the herb garden. I can walk around much of the apple tree garden in the grass, which gave me a chance to look what vacant spaces remained. They will not all be filled this year, and that is a good thing. I’ll be on the lookout for different genera and cultivars of perennials to place in these slots next spring–always an uplifting experience.

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