Slowing Down a Bit

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

Here it is—already May 28. Planting the garden and flower beds is now complete, and maintenance is now well under way.

Rob found more deer tracks in the alley on May 27, but the fence is holding up well, with no additional damage. Just a few feet west of the hollyhock plants are two groups of hostas—not the ordinary nondescript kind, but “fragrant” ones that I paid good money for. They are Fragrant Bouquet and Guacamole. They are undamaged. When it comes to gardens, hostas are supposed to be “deer candy.” Again, it shows you what I know.

Yes, I can really say that garden planting is complete. Last night I planted an additional geranium I acquired, along with four marigolds. They are in a large pot in the northwest corner of the pine tree garden.

I have spent a couple of evenings just going around to see how things are doing. Out in the alley, east end, a large iris should open today. It is dark purple. It is one of my favorites—large ruffly flowers and fragrant. I have no idea as to what cultivar it is.

In that same area, the Cup plant is growing and doing well. It sure does look like a weed to me, but with one difference. I noticed that the main stem is not round, but almost square, with ridges. As it matures, the leaves will have no stems, and the leaf axils will collect water when it rains—another way for me to tell it from a weed.

And while I’m in that area of the yard, I did a little follow up on the potted plants on the south side of the house. They all look healthy, but the pots on the east end of the south side may be lacking in light, due to the Korean Spice Bush at the south end of the east side of the house. Even though we’ve had 0.8 inches of rain over the past couple of days, they are close enough to the house where some additional watering may be in order. Each pot will get a 2 gallon container of water when that time comes. The rain barrel will supply this need, and I’ll carry the watering cans to the pots; after all, I need the exercise anyway.

I love the new raised bed on the south side of the house. So do the peppers, cucumbers, the tomato, and the ground cherries. The eggplant aren’t doing poorly, but they are a little slower. Perhaps the cooler weather set them back. The lettuce, spinach and radishes in this bed may be harvested as early as next week. I severely thinned the radishes last week, which has just encouraged the others to grow. The radishes have broader leaves than the lettuce, but they are rough; the spinach has large leaves as well, but they are smoother. In this case, you could taste all the leaves as well, because they are all edible. When I pick the lettuce and spinach for a salad, I’ll probably thin the radishes again as well, and eat those leaves, too.

Late last week, I was in the garden for a little monitoring. The beans are up, and the initial stand looks good. None of the vine crops are up, but I expect them to pop through soon. I haven’t been out in the garden since late last week, due to the rain. However, in the old perennial bed on the west side, there is enough mulch present whereby I can crawl around and “look” at the different perennials. My Baptisia, or false indigo, will be blooming soon. The Camassia spikes are in full color. My purple and white iris are out as well. This iris was supposed to be an “Immortality” cultivar, which is white. However, I like whatever iris they are so well that I’ll live and let live. The fern leaf or “Mother’s Day Peony” has finished its blooming for the year. Their satiny smooth flowers are neat. The woodland poppies have already begun to set seed pods. My Amsonia “Arkansas Blue Star” which I thought was dead is alive and well. The gas plant I tried to kill twice last year is definitely alive, well and blooming—much to my great pleasure. The delphinium stocks are beginning to bud as well. I’ve forgotten their cultivar, but they are very reliable. And soon, my pride of the perennial bed, the yellow Itoh Peony, will be out.

Yes, the rain and warmer weather are making things grow. But along with the plants come the weeds. That will be my next project. I’ll let you know how I tell plants from weeds each step of the way.

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