Thursday, May 27, 2010

they call it Urban Terraforming

Don’t Call it Gardening, The Wired Guide to Domestic Terraforming is the title of a fun article by Dominique Browning with illustrations by Oksana Badrak in the June issue of Wired. Yeah, I know that Wired is the slightly irreverent voice of the hip geek crowd. Alright, I also never thought that irreverent, geek and hip would ever be used in the same sentence, but I just did it. You may ask what they are doing talking about gardening? Shouldn’t they be writing about computers or something? In case no one told you, gardening is made for geeks. I never thought of myself as a geek. I am not a digital native. I do have a couple of slide rules floating around and there is a book of random numbers next to a book of sines, cosines and tangents from a distant past on a bookshelf, but I don’t have tape on my glasses. Then again, the Hanson brothers have tape on their glasses and no one would ever accuse them of being geeks. I do however fit the definition posited by Wired. Heck, we all do.

Gardening requires all who partake to learn another language. I hesitate to say new because Latin is hardly new. Without gardeners, Latin may have been destined to obscure legal works and religious writings. As much as I hate to admit it, common names are not exact and can be confusing. Gardeners can take great pride in keeping the language of the Caesars alive. That doesn’t include myself yet because I still can’t pronounce the name of my blog correctly. The world of gardening also requires a genteel mode of behavior. A certain politeness is derigueur in all communications. All who followed Jean's discussion at Jeans Garden on the whos and whys of blogging witnessed an animated discussion on the matter.

The article waits till the end to talk about digging in the “soil.” I always thought the word was dirt, but the article corrects my misunderstanding. I feel better already. There are also some cool diagrams about laying out different size gardens. Boy, where were these aids when I was descending into gardening chaos by just planting and letting the “force” guide me?

Here are some pics of our latest terra forming effort. Pat and I created planting areas in the pachysandra to add some height and diffuse the monoculture of the plant. Pachysandra is a wonderful ground cover for shaded areas. It is slow growing and needs no tending. It is, however, persistent. It overwhelms everything in its path. I never thought anything could choke out hosta, but pachysandra can. Our side yard planting areas did not get the care they needed last year. We needed to push the pach back. It may look like we have a bazillion pachysandra plants in the yard, but we don’t. I think it is just one large plant. The rhizomes are 2, 3, 4, 5 feet long and I think they reach down to the center of the earth. And to think that garden centers sell pachysandra right next to that other spawn of the devil, ivy. I’ll give both away to anyone who wants them, or to unsuspecting new gardeners. Oh, that was me a couple years ago.
Before terraforming

After Terraforming

The hose is from one of our rain barrels, so I guess we can add enviromentally friendly to geeky.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

hosta and stuff

We've got 5 yards of sweet peet sitting in the driveway and it's been raining. We need it to revitalize a couple of beds. Most of the planting areas in the back were cut out of pachysandra and need constant compost infusions. Pat and I realized when we were planting the new front bed that we needed to rearrange a whole bunch of plants. Actually I guess Pat's been telling me that our garden was getting overgrown for awhile. There's a fuzzy line between a little too robust and "hey! it's too crowded" garden. I may have made a few miscalculations. The ligularia that were a couple of inches high 2 years ago and a foot tall last year are all of a sudden HUGE. They even crowd out ferns and I thought that nothing crowded out ferns.
The ground is saturated so instead of a day shoveling sweet peet, I took pictures of the back yard. We had no master plan when we started planting.
It just seemed to take on a life of its own . . .

The grass in the back ground is my neighbor's. It is nice and perfectly manicured. You can tell our yard because of the chaos.
The dappled willows are wonderful bushes that will grow 10 feet tall, as long as you can protect them from the deer when they are small.

The berm is the sunny part of the back yard. This year everything just came together. There are no empty spaces. Everything grew out. The chives and creeping geraniums are in bloom. A couple of rabbit families call it home.

You can't tell that a couple weeks ago Pat and I were pulling ferns and ligularia out of this patch.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Holden Rhododendron Garden

After getting our plant fix at the Holden plant sale, we headed out for a walk. We wanted to see the rhododendron garden. When asking directions, the docent told us it was a 20 min. walk, so off we went. The 20 min. didn’t take into account all the “hey hon, look at this” that kept taking us off the path. We weren’t in any hurry, but we did want to see the rhodies and azaleas. There is so much to see at the Holden that you really have to take it in small chunks. The rhodie garden is surrounded by a 10 foot high deer fence. Nothing was getting over the fence that didn’t fly.
Pat and I have not had much luck with either rhodies or azaleas. Love the flowers, just can’t seem to figure out how to grow robust bushes. I have been accused of being prone to hyperbole. I prefer to think of it as being enthusiastic. Not this time. The rhodies and azaleas are magnificent. Here are some of the pics.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Holden Arboretum's Plant Sale

Pat and I went to the Holden Arboretum plant sale yesterday. I had a wish list of one plant. I was looking for a couple of marsh marigolds. I have exercised really good self control regarding new stuff this year. I fact, we are a net exporter of plants this year. Another reason to spend an afternoon at Holden is the rhododendron and azalea garden, but that’s for another post.
I kept to the plan until I saw the booths filled with all those wonderful, beautiful plants that all knew my name. We found marsh marigolds at the Chelsea Flower Garden booth. The marigolds were so reasonable that we got 6. Chelsea specializes in native plants. They are located in Middlefield Ohio. They do not have a web site. Some red flowered strawberry plants caught my eye. I have never seen red flowered strawberries. We have white flowered strawberries as groundcover on the back side of the berm. So we got 2 plants. Hey, it’s only 2 plants. An herb vendor caught Pat’s eye so she picked up some herbs, different kinds of basil. I found the mother lode at the Kridler Gardens booth. We knew about this vendor having picked up solomon’s seal a couple years ago at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens plant sale. They had a table of mini-hosta. Pat said something about how cute they looked and so much for self control.
So we didn’t keep to the 2 plant limit, but we didn’t go overboard either (if it sounds like a rationalization, alright, I admit, maybe it kind of is). Now to break the other rule, we need to get some more pots for the mini hosta.