Friday, March 12, 2010

Garden Thursday

The weather has really changed in the last week! We had days and days of balmy, sunny, mild weather. The Mason bees and bumble bees were emerging, my nectarine and peach trees are in full blossom, and all the hardy fuchsias (what a weird word to spell) are sprouting madly all over the place, giving me an opportunity to prune them for the first time ever (tip pruning to remove the dead wood from the winter). Then, just as quietly as it had arrived, the balmy weather disappeared, leaving us with cold wintry drafts. I rushed over to the garden centre to buy some manure to pile over the roots of the trees I'd been re-planting (to give them some heat) and then decided to plant the roses I had sitting in pots around the front yard. You can't see it from here but I now have a little climber (Lady Caroline, a variant of The Fairy) going up an aged pine tree, where I hope it will intertwine with Sandy's clematis, as well as another clematis (Mrs. N. Thompson), to create a sort of pinky, purpley, bluey spectacle.
Someone gave me a bag of lilies, which I planted in the above bed. This used to be the Lozenge Bed, and had a little oval of grass in the middle. It was very pretty but incredibly awkward to mow, and one day, in a fit of ARGH-ness I dug out all the sod and turned the inside Lozenge Grass into inside Lozenge Dirt. Things were even more awkward after that because it took me forever to figure out what I wanted from that bed: first I planted some roses but their thorny arms made it even more awkward to navigate the space; so I hauled them out and replaced it with some Irish and Scotch moss and tiles. Now it's a pleasant open space. So don't worry if a garden section isn't working for you: you can always dig things up and reposition them, as long as you follow the one cardinal rule of transplanting—take good care of the root ball.
Here is my usual transplant technique:
1. First, I dig the hole the plant is going to be moved to.
2. If it's dry, I fill that hole with water.
3. I then dig all around the plant, making sure I'm not cutting any major roots.
4. Place it onto a tarp or large shovel.
5. Take it to its new place. Then, before placing it in its new home, I sprinkle a couple of big handfuls of bone meal and kelp meal in the bottom of the hole. I position the plant and sprinkle another few sprinkles of bone and kelp meal over the roots. If I have some compost I fill the rest of the hole with compost. If I don't, I try to break up the old soil so it's soft and crumbly. In the summer I'll then water. This time of year I don't.
6. Oh, and when transplanting the adage is that you always keep the plant facing the same direction it faced in its old place.

In other news: primroses seem to be the new fad here. It's weird, I've never noticed so many new varieties before. Not only the usual poly. primroses, but the English primroses - which are taller, hardier, and less shiny with primary colour if that makes sense. They are far less likely to revert, too, so if you like primroses, the extra $ you'll pay for these English ones is well worth it. I've got a few that are springing up all over the place. I'm keeping the areas around them clear of debris, though, because the slugs are pretty enthusiastic right now.

Look at this before and after. A local gardener, who has a very useful garden guide for my area, gave me this tip: upend a terracotta pot on the rhubarb in early spring, to force it a little.

Here you can see the little nubs of rhubard, peeking out from the soil. The date is February 18th.

And here is the rhubarb after I suddenly remembered it! I was walking by and caught a glimpse of green leaf out of the top of the pot, and thought with a tinge of horror "OMG! THE RHUBARB! I FORGOT ABOUT IT!"
So I pulled off the pot, and look what I found.

I took this picture on March 7th.


Heather said...

Oh, it looks so good! We had rhubarb strawberry crisp the other day using fruit from our freezer but I will very much miss my rhubarb plant this year, luckily I have friends with rhubarb plants and I know where they live!

Anonymous said...

What a great little area! You inspire me Sheila!

I plan to do a lot of plant moving this year, so I will follow the Sheila method of transplanting. Thanks for all the tips!

Vivian said...

So that's what rhubarb plant looks like. You are really awesome, Sheila. I hope you know that.

sheila said...

Thank you Vivian! What a perfectly charming thing to say.

I tell you - the pairing of strawberries and rhubarb is a match made in heaven.

Mrs. Deeply Suburban said...

That picture of the bench and garden is so delightful and sooo Wet Coast, I just had to make it my desktop for a while. It's true, we have turned a corner here weather-wise; the woolen hats and mitts are finally retired, the snow drops are finally up, but we still must punish ourselves with photos of just how far ahead you are out there!