Editing the Garden

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The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the thermometer hovers just under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Time to put the flowers up for winter. And that means editing.

This morning, I took a break from my mad writing goal of 20,000 words per week–I almost got there–and spent an hour digging out the bed in front of Jim’s barn.

About ten years ago, I planted sedum Autumn Joy there, thinking they’d look green in summer and dusky pink in fall. Turned out great for two years, and then the plants got scraggly. Horse nettle added its nasty self in that bed, along with some pernicious vine I’ve never identified. Then I learned that Autumn Joy–also known as Never-Dies with good reason–needs dividing every couple of years.

I divided the sedum and cut back the number of plants to reduce my work load. But then added iris and daylilies, forgetting that these too need dividing at least every two years.

One of the daylilies is especially gorgeous. That big clump at the far right of the photo? It looks like this in bloom:

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If I had places for them, I could get five fans (plants) from that clump. But as William Faulkner said, ‘kill your darlings.’ Just as true in gardening as in writing.

Speaking of, my latest published short story–and warning, it’s a little dark–is at Page & Spine Magazine.

 

Sunny Sunday

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First Sunday of fall. The sun is shining and the weather is cool. A perfect late September day.

Time to put the ‘working tools’ garden to bed for winter. Daylilies divided. Hose and gutter drains in place, mulch down.

This is part of the frog garden, thus the dancing frogs.

The hack?  A thick–more than four inches–layer of mulch under the hose cart to prevent weeds.

 

 

Fall Clean-up

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It’s time.  We have seven flower and nine veggie raised beds that need clean-up for winter. Starting in the bed closest to the road, we weeded, pruned, divided, and mulched.

Anchored by two giant pin oaks, this bed has changed from mostly sun to mostly shade. That’s how much the oaks have grown in the past ten years. I’ve been moving the hostas from the north side–where I’ll plant more ferns this coming spring–to circle the trees.

But the sedum autumn joy and pink chrysanthemum don’t seem to mind the diminished sunshine. Next spring, before the oaks leaf out, the bed will be a riot of daffodils and tulips.

Meanwhile, the mulch is spread and, while we’ll have to keep an eagle eye out for newly emerging weeds, this bed is ready for what will hopefully be a snowy winter. One down. Six to go.

Garden Tragedy

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We’ve had such bad luck with gardening this year. April was too cold. June was too hot. And it’s been plain too dry. We’ve gone from moderate to severe drought, although lots of folks west and north of us have had enough rain to keep going.

It was supposed to rain today. It did. At least, the south windows had a few sprinkles.

Watching our lettuces and Cole crops fail, our cucumbers flower sans fruit, our tomatoes turn black, our eggplant surrender to bugs … Need I continue?

Instead of giving everything over to weeds, we covered each garden bed with black trash bags, held down with bricks. No, we didn’t buy the bricks. We’ve been carrying these around since 2000 when we brought them with us from the Overland Park house. As you can see, they’ve come in handy.

The trash bags will keep the weeds from sprouting and, with the beds covered long enough, may even retard weed germination for the next gardening season. If the drought continues, we’ll just leave things covered.

If the drought continues … let’s hope this isn’t a sign of climate change. We could have floods as easily if the pendulum swing is wild enough. And which is worse?

Let Go to Keep Going

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I went out back yesterday, and in addition to experiencing the ridiculous heat index of 100 plus degrees Fahrenheit, I experienced dismay at seeing cottonwood tree leaves. Yellow and on the ground. My six-year-old trees, stressed to the max, and it’s only mid-July. Darn.

Cottonwoods, native to the Midwest, typically lose leaves in late summer or early fall. Or when it’s  extremely dry or unusually hot. No, it’s not late summer. But the heat and lack of rain has caught up with the trees. They’ve shed about 10 percent of their leaves, which helps the tree survive. All the extension office websites I checked agree that the trees aren’t in danger. Yet.

Is there a lesson in that? For me? For you? For the country?

‘Nuff said.