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Archive for July 11th, 2007

I was visiting Colleen at “In the Garden Online” the other day. I got there because of a post I read at Carol’s blog, “May Dreams Gardens”. Both of them were suggesting that it might be a good idea to encourage beginning gardeners by showing them some of our less than successful areas of our yards. It might be particularly important because we tend to show our most beautiful and freshly cleaned up gardens when we are bragging.

To that end, I offer the following. 

The first set of pictures are of my pond area.  I label this one “The Good.”  It has gotten wilder than I imagined it would.  Short of bringing in a bulldozer, I have no idea how to get it back in control.  I have recently spent several hours trying to convince the blackberries that they don’t live back there.   I feel sort of like the Border Guards along the Arizona/Mexico border.   I send one back and two sneak in behind my back.   Anyway, the birds love this corner of my yard, so I guess I have to say it is “good”.   Not perfect, but good.  Both of these shots were taken from the same spot, I only rotated in place.

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Now, this is the Bad.   The following picture was taken of an area on the east side of the house.   There is a privacy fence that makes a corner there, with a gate to the back yard.   This bed is along the pathway that runs from the fence to the carport, and I planted it with mugwort, and lambs ears.   In the spring it also sports daffodils.  I believe mugwort may have gotten its name because it will mug you as you go by if you don’t keep it cut WAY back.  I don’t really like this bed, but haven’t gotten around to doing anything about it.  At least there aren’t very many weeds.

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And now we come to the Ugly.  This is also a moral tale.   The following picture shows what happens when you plant a garden and then ignore it for three years.   I started ignoring it when the city came along one year and put in the curbs and new street you see behind this bed.   While all that was going on, I didn’t do anything in that garden, it was too close to the heavy equipment.   Then the next year it had gotten so overgrown, I didn’t have time to take care of it.   Besides, I was weeding the seretia lespedeza, blackberries, and ragweed out of my new wildflower strip, which is also in the background of this picture.  This strip is 300 feet long and 10 feet wide, so it took a lot of energy.  Then the third year I was in total denial about what was going on there.   All lovely excuses, but the fact is I am going to have to do a total dig out and revamp to reclaim this space.

You can’t see it, but there is a lilac bush and rhubarb in there, in addition to the beleaguered day lilies and some iris (I think).  The pink is cleome, which self seeds readily.  Anyway, gardeners BEWARE!   This could happen to you!!!

 news-of-the-day-11july07-ugly.jpg

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Yesterday I spent quite a while out in my garden, weeding and dead-heading.  While I was out there, I noticed an interesting phenomenon in my front garden.  Observe:

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This is a picture of a group of little annual flowers that were given to me for my birthday a month ago.   They all came from the same place, and were the same size when given to me.   I planted them where they would make a pretty display and reseed themselves for next year.   I started mulching the area, and then a client came for a massage, and time passed and I never finished the job.   Now you have the perfect example of why it is a good idea to mulch your gardens.

Notice now the plants in the foreground, which have mulch around them, are about three times the size the ones that do not have mulch.  Notice how much more leaf they have.  Notice how the brilliant burgundy is so much more pronounced in the mulched plants.   These babies are all planted in the same sort of soil, in the same sort of light conditions and get the same amount of water.  The only difference is the mulch.

Now compare the soil that is under the mulch:

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with the soil that has no mulch:

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There is a difference in the looseness, and how much organic matter is present.   There is also a difference in how much moisture is being retained in the mulched soil as opposed to the unmulched, although this is not particularly evident in these pictures.  These differences exist in spite of the fact that all the soil in this bed has been mulched numerous times in the past.

Well, I think I should get off the computer and get my fanny out there and mulch the rest of them!  What do you think?

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