A plant exchange

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer 

Ugly weather cannot stop gardeners. Rain, cold, wind and overcast skies greeted all gardeners here on Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14. But the garden work goes on, despite the weather.

Earlier this spring, Beth and I agreed to plant and maintain the Plaza Garden at the Demonstration Garden in Urbandale. On the evening of the 12th, Beth and I went to the garden to make final arrangements with Margaret to receive our plants. She would deliver them on Friday the 13th. In the meantime, we assisted other gardeners in preparing their beds, as well as making sure that the Plaza Garden was ready to plant.

 The rain quit by Friday afternoon, and Margaret came over to deliver several flats of plants–coneflowers, zinnias, vinca minor and osteospermum (African daisies.) By 5 p.m. the trunk was loaded, and it was time to get to work. I grabbed my winter coat for the occasion, along with a yardstick and a trowel.

Even though the grass and soil were wet, we figured  that since the Plaza Garden beds were raised we could stand or kneel on the mulch, and place our plants on the raised concrete blocks.  This worked out well, as the concrete was dry, and the mulched paths held up well. I was pleased I wore my winter coat, even though I felt initially this was a crazy idea.

Saturday morning was the first, and I hope not the last Plant Exchange sponsored by the Keep Windsor Heights Beautiful Committee. In late April, I received a six pack of chocolate cherry tomato plants from Gurney. I potted up two of them in large pots, and gave one away. I placed them in medium-sized pots for the exchange. Beth provided several pots of lily-of-the-valley that had invaded her space where she would place the fountain later in the month. When we arrived, we found people crowded in the park shelter out of the wind and cold. And in our view, this exchange was a success. Beth garnered a columbine (aquelegia canadensis) along with larkspur. I grabbed two pots of yellow primrose. I do not know the botanic name of the primrose, although it is not the Missouri primrose, or oneothera. This primrose is about a foot tall, upright, with bright yellow flowers. On our Kossuth County farm, Mom had a large crop of them, and they seeded themselves.  So, there was some sentiment in my selection.

This same person, Karen, had given me several other specimens of this for the pine tree garden last year. At this time, I have not done an adequate scouting of the pine tree garden to see if they came back; they are very similar to phlox paniculata which are also growing and doing well in a nearby space. I established the new plants as a clump in the old perennial garden to the west of my vegetable garden, with a double marker for reference. I planted them on the 17th. Beth placed hers rather quickly as well.

Most weather is good for something in the garden. The rainy and cool weather is excellent for all the annuals and perennials that we set out earlier in the week. For them, it’ll be hot and dry soon enough. Now we’ll wait for it to dry out some so we can begin to  take stock of how things are doing, and to pull weeds.


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