Tag Archives: Hostas

A Goodbye to a Much Loved Garden

Cherry tree - 1

When you have to move and have to relinquish a garden that you have nurtured for twenty eight years, every moment you have left becomes precious.  As spring approaches, I spend as much time as possible walking the grounds and basking in the memories of each small vignette:  The twenty eight foot Weeping Spruce growing in the secret garden that my son brought home one day from school after an Earth day program his kindergarten year. He proudly presented it to me in a small paper cup. The Beautiful Cherry that dear friends gave us in a gallon pot when our daughter was born. The Hostas I dug up and transplanted from my first house.  The stand of Brunnera a girlfriend shared from her own garden and the different varieties of Pulmonaria I collected through the years now in glorious bloom, just as I am getting ready to leave. As gardeners, we all know that a gift of a plant will always have meaningful memories attached to it and long lasting  life. As such, I walk away with an ache in my heart but with the realization that the plants will endure and hopefully will give joy for many years to come.

Pulmonaria goodbye - 1

My wish is that the new lucky owners of this piece of land, home to nesting birds that return from migration to this patch year after year, home also to the bunnies who eat non stop and the deer who make their morning and evening rounds,  home to frogs and garter snakes that keep pests in check and the woodchucks who eat the dandelion flowers as they are fresh each morning . The squirrels nesting in its trees and the chipmunks who dig tunnels in the most inconspicuous places. They all belong here more than us.  My message to these lucky new owners (as of this point, unknown) is that they can draw peace and inspiration from its beauty, bask in the shade of its mature trees and receive joy from the song of its many resident birds as we did for so many decades.

I face a new beginning in my gardening journey, moving South to zone 9 in Central Florida, fauna and flora quite different from Pennsylvania which affords me the opportunity of learning new plant families and create gardens that require less water and more sun. I will explore the rich world of Cacti and Succulents and experiment with some tropical plants and fruit trees. I am eager to explore and share my journey with you and hope you continue to join me in the adventures to come!

“A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.”
Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

May in the Garden

May in the garden is a month full of hope and possibilities.  In the perennial garden, plants are regaling us with their beautiful fresh leaves.  I love the new leaves of hostas and ferns as they unfurl all perfect and bright. Sometimes, a surprise ‘volunteer’ appears in the most unexpected places.  Perennials like Aquilegea or Columbine, Brunnera macrophylla and Tannacitum or Feverfew (technically and herb) will seed themselves in the fall,  I prefer to have plants in colonies so, when the seedling is a good size, I lift it and transplant it to a more desirable location.

May is also a great time for dividing large clumps of perennials that are too large for their space. The technique involves lifting the entire clump and, depending on the size, dividing by half and even 4 sections and then planting each section individually.  Grasses, Hostas, Irises and the majority of clumping perennials that bloom later in the season can be divided this way.

A clump of Pulmonaria lifted from the ground

...and after dividing it in three sections.

After days on end in the garden, edging and mulching, weeding and dividing, the best thing of the start of the gardening season is shopping for new plants.  I always advise my clients to go shopping armed with a good list of plants for specific sites and plants suitable for your environment.  How many times do we end up buying plants on impulse, because they happen to be in bloom or were recommended by a salesperson who does not have accurate facts about your individual garden’s need?  When I end up scurrying about trying to find a place for a plant, that is when I remember I should have stuck with my list.

Gardening is a kind of disease.  It infects you, you cannot escape it.  When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed.  ~Lewis Gannit

Perennials in fall

It is sad to see the perennials turn yellow and enter dormancy.  I keep looking outside knowing that the cleanup must begin.  Hostas, Ferns and Peonies are all yellowing.  I would like to collect the foliage before it turns completely brown and add all of it to my compost pile. While the leaves are still green, the nitrogen and water content are higher and will help balance the carbon rich compost pile. The large leaves of Hostas and stems of Peonies may need to be cut into smaller pieces, in fact, I believe that the pile benefits from all materials being chopped a bit.  I keep adding to the pile and turning.  If it is dry, a good watering helps move things along.  Oh, just think of the wonderful composted soil I will collect in the spring!  Black gold!

We still have a window for planting trees and shrubs. There is time until the hard frost sets in, for the roots to develop into the soil before they enter dormancy. It is important to cover each planting with a generous amount of mulch and give it a couple of deep waterings a week until frost.

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn”.  ~Elizabeth Lawrence