Who Owns Your Garden

Garden Clippings for July 7, 2018

Its an all too common scenario.

Mom loves to putter in her garden.  Her putter time allows her to think, to dream, to relax and let off steam.

Mom’s garden is not the world’s most beautiful garden, but its hers.  She owns it.  It is filled with a mix of old favorites: Delphiniums, Bleeding Hearts, Iris, Primrose, fall Mums and Hostas.

There’s also Shasta Daisies, Wild Daylilies, Lily of the Valley and Solomon’s Seal.  These tend to dominate and spread but that’s okay because Mom stays on top of it.  Once or twice a week she bends over to yank a few weeds and removes a few unwanted plant stems.

Mom’s garden is her own creation.  A delightful mix of cut flowers, fragrant bloomers, early spring surprises and late fall standbys.

Sooner or later Mom falls ill.  She is hospitalized for a short spell and returns home to recuperate.  She is unable to putter and her garden shows it.  She can’t ask her neighbour or friends to help because they don’t really know what they are doing.  Worse yet, they don’t seem to care.

Another year goes by and Mom’s garden has become a mumbo jumble of vegetation and weeds.  The invasive plants have all but buried the tender plants.  When Mom is well enough, she makes attempts to recapture the garden that once was hers.  But to no avail.

She fought the garden, but the garden won.

Mixed perennial gardens are not difficult to keep up.  If you catch the weeds when they are tiny, they are easy to deal with.  If you periodically nip the edges of the aggressive plants they won’t take over.

But what’s a gardener to do when their garden has been neglected for too long?  When the thistles are high, and the Lily of the Valley has taken over?  When you can no longer find the Bleeding Heart or the decorative statuary?

Step one is to get a stack of grower’s pots and rescue the salvageable plants that are worth keeping.  Water well and store them on the north side of the house where they are protected from the hot sun.

Step two is borrow a weed whacker and cut down all the offending weeds and invasive plants.  Gather up and toss the old plant stems.  If you put them in the compost pile their seeds might remain viable and come back to haunt you in a year or two.

Step three involves physically digging out as many roots as possible.  Most plants won’t present much of a problem, but you might want to find energetic help with nasty roots of Lily of the Valley and English Ivy.

Step four requires patience.  Wait a few weeks and cultivate the garden again to weed out the plants that you’ve missed.  Repeat as often as necessary until the garden is squeaky clean.

Finally, add triple mix, clean compost, manure and bone meal to the garden.  Put pen to paper and plan your new garden, keeping in mind colour, texture, heights and blooming times.  Don’t forget to incorporate the favorite plants you have stored earlier.

Once your garden is replanted, take a few minutes once or twice a week to bend down and putter.