Mid-Atlantic

May, 2009
Regional Report

Remove Plants That No Longer Appeal

Is that 5' by 5' ornamental grass just in the way? Have the Siberian or German irises or black-eyed Susans overtaken half your perennial bed? Do you dread the short-lived bloom of orange daylilies? Lightening won't strike you dead if you remove those undersirables. Maybe they can brighten or fill empty space in a local community park or garden. Let people at work or in the neighborhood know you're giving away perennials. Bet they'll find new homes. And give you more room for new treasures.

Divide Hostas, Anemone Japonica, Lilyturf, Daylilies, Ferns

Divide and spread everyone's favorite, easy-care perennials. After you weed, take advantage of the natural bounty within a shovel's reach. The soil's already loosened. Mother Nature will quickly fill that vacuum (empty garden spot) if you don't. It's relatively easy to lift, divide, and transplant clumps of the above perennials. A sharp, flat -edged spade will cut through the dense root balls. You can gently tease apart the bulbous lilyturf and daylily roots. After you plant, water well so soil settles around roots.

Start Small with New Veggie Gardens

Vegetable gardens need a lot more tending than new or established ornamental perennial and shrub beds. Veggies require more frequent watering, can attract more hungry pests, and thrive when picked regularly. Beans, for example, will keep producing tender pods if they're picked. Left on the plant, they'll just get huge and inedible and turn to seed. If you're just starting to grow vegetables, select your favorites for a small or reasonably-sized, workable plot. Better to keep a small area weeded, mulched, watered and bountiful than get overwhelmed by too much of everything- good and bad.

Be Patient With New, Young or Less Obsessed Gardeners

Just because I slip easily into "the zone" and can work a garden for 4, 5 hours doesn't mean everyone's so inclined. Friends frequently remind me that they "have a life." Yet they often enjoy planting, pulling weeds, admiring flowers, clipping off dead leaves - for an hour or less. Guide; provide tools, plants and encouragement so everyone feels free to find her or his comfort level in the garden.

Play

With a grandmother's effervescent delight, a friend explained how her three-year-old granddaughter Sierra enjoys gardening. Someone recently gave her packets of flower seeds. Sierra opened each packet and poured all the seeds into her little plastic wheel barrow - mixing them up, of course. She had the best time scattering them wherever she fancied. Lesson, perhaps? Lighten up. Tap into that childlike joy. Throw caution to the wind ... once in awhile. Play with the ingredients and create your own recipe. We all know some of our favorite garden vignettes are happenstance.

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