By Roger Erpelding
I am in the old perennial bed on the west side of the garden. In this area, weeding is a pretty simple task. For the most part, the perennials I am weeding now have been there for a while, and are well established. I began in the northwest corner, where the Virginia bluebells are dying. If I step on them, no big deal. I just have more space to weed. The fern leaf peony is in a white tile, and I can tell by its leaves that it belongs there. To my left is a long established daylily, and just to the south of it, an oriental poppy. The poppy has long rosette leaves like a dandelion, but they are fuzzier. In addition to this, there are two flower buds standing up, which should open any day. And next is a mystery plant. It has leaves similar to cotton, and it’ll have small yellow flowers. I purchased it at Heirloom Gardens years ago, but I have lost the tag.
As I sweep further south, I find some shade loving plants. Lungwort is the newest one. It has slender and very fuzzy leaves. In addition to this, it has a fresh tag, and no mulch around it. A few Shasta daisies and a few sprouts of black-eyed Susans are also in this area. Years of experience and growth habit allow me to identify these plants.
Also in this area is a group of oriental lilies. They are upright, and are already a couple of feet tall. No weeds here. There are some wild violets in this area, and since I don’t want them, I pull them out. I also encounter a couple of shrubs that are growing as well. After Beth and I got married in 2004, we spent many weekend mornings that summer cutting out and grubbing out these bushes. Will they ever really die? They get cut off at the ground, and I’ll be persistent in keeping them out of the perennial bed.
My next landmark as I proceed south is the down spout. I soon find it, and some other interesting things. The Jack Frost brunnera is doing well—perhaps too well. Its broad fuzzy leaves and upright stems with feathery flowers gives it away. Further north and east, one of them has arrived amongst the daylilies; it is harmless where it is at, so I let it alone. To my great joy, I also find some woodland poppies. They have already bloomed, and their seed pods are what give them away as plants which will be allowed. They have seeded into this area from further south—more power to them. They have an upright growth habit. Their seed pods will soon “pop” as the seeds ripen and are dispersed.
I proceed east along the drain pipe until it ends. Just south of its east end, I stop by to see how my Baptisia is doing. I find two bloom stalks. They have clusters of pea-like flowers. Since they are a legume, this identifying trait is all I need. They now have thick stalks, so they must be established, right? Winter dieback has hurt it some, but it is recovering nicely.
I am now heading north and east, working toward the north fence in the central part of the perennial bed. A row of daylilies is my guide to weed this section. Dandelions, violets, and those old shrubs are done away with. Just west of the daylilies are camassia, which have completed their bloom. They will soon die, but their upright bloom stalks are still prominent. Their lily-like leaves are a little narrower than a daffodil.
Crawling northward, I find an iris in bloom. This is a new cultivar, but the tag is meaningless. What color is it, anyway? I pluck off a flower, and place it near the air conditioner so I won’t forget it. Beth tells me later it is mainly white, with purple edges. Its fragrance is faint. It will not go down as one of my favorites, but since Beth described is as “beautiful” may it do well in subsequent years!
And here’s the north fence. My weeding is almost done. But first I need time-out to admire my Ito peony. This is a cross between the traditional bush peony, and a tree peony. This cultivar is bright yellow, fragrant, and in full bloom. Time to “stop and smell the peonies.” Between this and the fence is a row of pots with cherry tomatoes and their accompanying tomato cages. As cherry tomatoes do, they are getting tall and lanky, but they are healthy. I check the cannas along the fence just west of the tomatoes, and they are doing fine as well.
Time to get out of the garden. I proceed east along the fence to the north gate. I find an iris, and it’ll bloom soon. Next are the group of sweet rockets. Their purple flowers are fragrant and welcome. However, they are taking over, so after their bloom is complete, I will cut them to the ground—probably in late June. Despite this fact, they will continue to grow and perhaps dominate. This plant has slender and fuzzy leaves as well. They are biennial, and I encounter a few first year plants as well.
There is still no sign of my hardy hibiscus. They are very late in arriving, so I am not in despair. After the hard winter, they may not appear again. If this is the case, the sweet rockets may get a little longer reprieve.
Along comes the gate, and lots of grass. All grass is pulled in the garden. It is easily identified, and since it rained almost 2 inches earlier in the week, easy to pull as well.
Here it is June 6, and I am still planting! Last Friday Beth brought home a fine-looking Shasta daisy from Earl May. We stopped there Saturday morning, and I purchased my own daisy, and two coreopsis. I couldn’t pass up the Jethro Tull cultivar, even though it is past its prime. Another coreopsis cultivar, Mercury Rising, looked nice. Sunday evening I planted all three near the mailbox, with thunder in the west. The 0.7 inches of rain that came that night was a welcome site.
Our new puppy thought it might like basil, so it stripped two plants in my herb garden. Beth bought two replacements, and they were planted on Wednesday night.
One of my sweet banana peppers has died as well. I know that at one point they were extremely dry, and I watered them just in time. Perhaps I missed this one. I purchased 4 jabanero peppers. One will go in the pot, and the other 3 will be planted just north of the green beans along a fence. They are in the water bath as I write, and I’ll plant them tonight.
And what happens when you don’t know if you have a plant or a weed? I’ll discuss that in the next blog.