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April 30, 2005

The Perfect Garden

I have spent a lot of time lately just walking through the gardens, taking stock of what is coming up, what should be coming up and isn’t, and also asking, “What the heck is that?”

The long spring has allowed me to get a good start with early weeding, routine maintenance and even a major project of moving five Graham Thomas shrub roses.

I can see how the gardens are maturing and I’m really pleased at how things are pulling together. Each year at this time, I wonder, “Will this be the year when I finally get it right? Will the weather cooperate, offering just enough sun, rain and constant temperatures to provide ideal bloom conditions? Will I be able to keep up with the daily chores so the garden remains neat and tidy? Will the plant and flower combinations that I set in motion three years ago actually work?”

It’s kind of like the movie “The Perfect Storm,” a once-in-lifetime catastrophe of monstrous proportions. Except I want an ongoing occurrence of beautiful displays.

Gardening is like a three-legged stool: if one leg goes bum, the whole thing collapses. For all the planning and weeding and maintaining that I do, a really severe thunderstorm could come through and wash out an entire season of blooms or tear out new trees or wreak any manner of havoc in the gardens.

At that time, all a gardener can do is say, “Well, there’s always next year.”

But for now, I’m still rooting for my own perfect garden.

What’s happening in the garden now:

I started writing this more than a week ago but never quite got around to finishing it. When I had an hour of free time, I had the choice of either working in the garden or writing about working in the garden. You can guess what I chose.

The first daffodils have opened in the bed next to the driveway! More daffodils are on their way in that bed and several crocus set blooms and gone there as well.

The bergenia have begun to bloom along the window wells. I think they are the coolest plants with huge luscious leaves that remain green through the winter and stunning hot pink flowers to boot.

The magnolia trees are finished blooming. The rains that happened when they first began to open plus the downpour that dropped almost an inch last weekend really did the blossoms in.

The petasites or elephant ears have sent up their flowering stalks. They are crazy plants that first produce flowers that are pollinated by flies. When the flowers die back, the enormous leaves emerge.

Two of the three corydalis I planted last year have returned along the dry stream bed. I had been aching for them for two seasons before I finally broke down and purchased them. Every year one or two plants get under my skin until I just lose control and have to purchase them. Last year it was the corydalis and pulmonaria “Mrs. Moon.” I don’t know what they will be this year. Nothing has blipped on my radar screen yet.

The ferns have begun unfurling their tightly wound fronds in the woodland beds. I want to establish a great mixture of ferns in this area so in the hottest days of summer, I can sit along the rocks of the dry streambed and feel cool, breathing in the musky scent of fern.

I’ve noticed that several of the native plants, both woodland and prairie, that I purchased last year through a grant from the City of Plymouth made it through the winter. In the prairie so far I’ve seen tradescantia and prairie strawberries. The bird’s foot violets have begun blooming. In the woodland area along the dry streambed and down, I’ve seen ladyhair ferns, wild geranium, zigzag goldenrod and aromatic aster.

Three rhubarb shoots have emerged next to the compost bins. The original plants came from my mom’s garden in North Dakota 14 years ago. They were moved and ditched into the perennial beds when we did the garden remodel and spent a year there before I could move them to a sunny, permanent spot. Last year I had to beg enough rhubarb from a friend so I could make some crisps and other desserts – a sad state of things. Thing year I hope to put up some rhubarb chutney. I may even enter it into the State Fair.

Here’s what’s blooming now:
Turkish tulips
Wild prairie crocus
Flowering crabapple trees
Creeping phlox

Garden chores for the week:
Continue to weed all the beds. Any weeds taken now are one less thing to worry about later in the season. Plus with the rain we’ve had, they pull out very easily.

Dig up the yarrow clump under the magnolia tree. I’ve had it with this plant. It does nothing for me or the garden and just keeps encroaching on everything else. I’ll pot it up and donate it to a plant sale at work.

Move the five Graham Thomas roses from along the fence to the fountain bed. They need more sunlight to truly thrive and I want to place them in a more prominent position in the garden. They are lovely David Austin roses from England and their yellow blooms have a sweet scent. You can guess why we purchased them.

Plant some sunflower seeds and tithonia in peat pots. Maybe these can fill in the gap left by the Graham Thomas roses.

Vegetable garden: Last weekend I quickly turned over the two raised beds next to the house and planted
• Mesclun
• Cherry Belle radish
• Prizehead lettuce
• Sugar Snap peas
• Burpeeana peas
• Wando peas
• Gourmet Blend lettuce in a bowl

The lettuces and radishes are in rows; the Burpeeana peas will grow up a willow teepee. I also planted sweet peas and an Indian pea to grow up another willow teepee in the center perennial bed

It felt great to get them in the ground. And it felt terrible when Pont trampled through both vegetable beds just 10 minutes later. Ahhh, well.

The radishes and lettuce in a bowl germinated within a week, thanks to some good rains.

Seed Starting Update

Verbena Bonariensis
• 4/16 - Two have finally germinated

Celosia “Forest Fire” – Lake Valley Seed for 1996
• 4/11 – Had to knock off the seed coating of one of the seedlings so the leaves could open.
• 4/13 – 8 more seeds
• 4/15 – 3 more seeds
• 4/16 - potted up four seedlings that had their second set of leaves.

Penstemon “Sensation Mix” – Unwins for 2004?
• 4/11 – One seed germinated. It looks a lot like the celosia seedlings.

Scabiosa atropurpurea “Cutflower Mix” – Unwins for 2004?
• 4/11 – Potted 7 plants into peat pots in their own tray. I should have done this a week ago. A few have gotten very leggy. The smallest ones transplanted the best. One that had its stem roughed up a bit has died.

Woodland wildflower alert
Last weekend when the Boy, the two dogs and I walked down to the park along Medicine Lake, I saw bloodroot and rue anemone in bloom in the woods along our walking path. I added both plants to my own woodland garden last season but have not seen either yet.

Family Plug

Brian attended Vikings mini-camp this past Friday and has been posting reports by position all weekend. And the photos are great. Check it out!

Posted by maasx003 at April 30, 2005 5:59 PM | Gardens