Sunday, March 08, 2009

New Direction

OK, since I can't get it together to write interesting posts these days, I think I'll document the progress of my first serious gardening effort here. I've taken some before pictures and will post them with progress pics as I get more into it.

Step one is just plain, backbreaking cleanup work. The entire perimeter of the house is covered in dead leaves and pine needles. I *may* just hire someone to get rid of those--for the flower beds, a leafblower is really the best tool. I don't have one and don't plan to.

The other issue with the beds--they've been neglected for a few years. The vinca and azaleas were probably gorgeous when in their prime. Now, however, the azaleas look pretty tired, the vinca is getting choked out by weeds, and the honeysuckle has completely overtaken several azaleas and the better part of a wall. Time to get rid of it ALL, start fresh. I'll keep the two azaleas that anchor the front flower beds--they are enormous and sprout so many flowers in the spring, the branches look as though they'll break under the weight. Once they finish flowering, I'll cut them down to stumps and let them grow back in a smaller, more controlled fashion. They have gotten so big, they block the light and view from the den window and more importantly, the porch swing.

I even bought an inexpensive tiller. My plan is to get most of the heaviest work knocked out during each morning of spring break, leaving me the afternoons and evenings to study and write the monster Appellate Brief. After the heavy lifting is finished, I can take my time planting and mulching, one small bit at a time when I find a couple of hours.

I am spending the summer in DC, true enough. So I won't get to watch it all flower initially. However, I've only chosen flowers and plants that bloom until first frost--so when I return in August, it will all be in full bloom. With a heavy mulching, weeds shouldn't be an issue and all Emilie will have to do is eat the tomatoes and water every so often. I can plant a crop of late tomatoes, peas, and lettuce in August and draw it out.

I went crazy buying flower seeds: Madagascar Jasmine, morning glories of every hue, daylillies, new vinca, black-eyed susan vine, delphinium, sunflowers ("cherry rose" and the big, yellow kind), coleus, petunias for the window boxes, hanging strawberries and brandywine tomatoes that will come with me, basil, purple coneflower, orange blanket flower, Brazilian Fireworks, balloon flower, passion fruit vine...even kiwi vines that produce full-sized kiwis this far south.

I may or may not get it all in. I'm finding that I love the process, though, even the ugly job of weeding. I spent a couple of hours yesterday cleaning up my daylilly beds from last year--they were not mulched and were completely overgrown with weeds. Pulled the undesirables out, fertilized, and mulched. Something's eating them, though, so I need to do some quick research to find a remedy.

I think it's slugs. I remember slugs getting on my mother's strawberry plants. She gave me two jar-lids of beer and told me to set them out in the beds. I squatted there for a long time, watching the slugs mosey up to the lids, slide inside, and drown in the beer.

Sounds like some people I know!