Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taking root

Although today's weather got off to a crappy start, I still decided it was time to plant the items we picked up on Thursday. Then, around 1 p.m., the clouds parted and the temperature rose about 20 degrees, and I knew that I had picked the perfect day to plant some new life into our small plot of earth.

I've told you before that I make no claims at being a gardener, but as I prepared our outdoor spaces for spring for the fifth year of living in our house, I realized that I have learned a bit. The most important lesson I need to keep in mind: always dig deeper than you think is necessary before putting new plants in the ground. I always forget about natural erosion and how even though a plant may seem too far into the ground at first, that plant will quickly grow and the dirt around it will diminish, leaving me with plants whose roots are dangerously close to the surface. Lesson learned!

I started with a quick planting in the front yard. Nothing spectacular. Mostly wanted to fill in the gap left behind by the evergreen that bit the dust thanks to our bagworm visitors over the summer. So, I planted some snapdragons and a Caradonna Meadow Sage, something I've never planted before but excites me with its claim that it will bloom throughout spring and summer in full sunlight.

The deck is always my favorite space to spruce up once the warm weather arrives. The sight of blooming plants on the deck makes it feel like a little oasis. Over the years I've come to appreciate the hardiness of geraniums, but I am also a huge sucker for hanging vines, so I thought I'd try out the sweet potato vine this year (because I am also a sucker for bright green leaves). One of our neighbors had some in a container on her front stoop last year and I thought it needed to be replicated.

I'm pleased to report that a number of living things planted last spring returned, including the "Goldilocks" lysimachia that I was not expecting to see return. Of course, last year I made the really stupid decision to plant clovers in two of my planters, and those came back, too. I decided to dig out the clover today while I was planting, but then I kept finding so many four-leaf clovers that I thought it would be seven years of bad luck if I ripped out all of them, so I kept a few choice clovers at the front of the planter. (And, as you may notice in the photo, many of the clovers that stayed behind are -- coincidentally -- four-leaf!)

I also took the planter I bought last year for the failed Costco hydrangea and used that of the basil container experiment (and the leftover geranium and snapdragons that I over bought -- whoops!).Thankfully, we bought a drill for our home back in December, and I used it for the first time today when I realized that one reason the hydrangea may have died (besides the fact that I generally have negative feelings about Costco) is the fact that I forgot to add holes to the planter last year. (Whoops again.) After using the drill today, I can see why people get a rush from power tools. Sign me up for more!

As I moved on to the backyard, I discovered a couple more fun surprises. The spearmint planted last year actually returned this year! Grow, little man.

The scallion experiment of yore not only worked awesomely last summer, but it even added a fun twist when this twice-used scallion decided to return again. This is the scallion that refuses to die. I love that fighting spirit! And, you'll notice behind our little pride and joy that both parsley plants are returning to boot. I must have done something right last year.

Perhaps the greatest news, though, is that our grass we planted in the fall took root and is now in desperate need of a cut. (You can see where I trampled the grass today while planting additions to this year's herb garden.)

Gardening thought of the day: The other day I either heard on the radio or read in a book (it all gets muddled together) that earthworms only live two weeks, and they reach full maturity at day 4. Today as I was digging through lots of dirt and I kept uncovering earthworms, I kept trying to gently move them to another pile of dirt. After all, if these guys only have 14 days to live, might as well make it good.

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