Friday, October 28, 2011

Tucking the Garden in

Here at chez Elliott, Jack has been getting the yard ready for winter's slumber and spring's awakening.

One thing we are focusing on is flowers. Mrs Elliott likes flowers and she likes lots of them, and we learned a few things about gardening in Bend last season.

First, perennials alone are not showy enough for her, so plenty of annuals need to be planted to plump up the yard; and second, if you're going to plant bulbs, which offer reliable flowers in late spring where annuals and the other perennials are not yet up to speed, you need to plant a buttload of them. ("Buttload" is a technical term meaning a large quantity but not as much as an assload, and a lot less than a shitload.)

This time last fall we planted a few dozen fancy bulbs I purchased from the Central Oregon Master Gardener Association. I've never done bulbs before and always wanted to. They all flowered and they were all pretty, but not showy enough, meaning there weren't enough of them to impress.

Meanwhile, over in the valley, our friend Michael Hill of Sweeney Pond had also planted bulbs, but rather than planting a few fancy ones, he planted great clusters of inexpensive Costco and Fred Meyer tulips. It looked spectacular and he had plenty for flower vases.

So that's what Jack did yesterday. With the help of a hired guy, something like 400 or 500 Fred Meyer bulbs went into the ground. Daffodils, anemones, hyacinths, and Dutch irises in the front yard, and a mess of tulips and ranunculus in the back yard, where deer can't get to them. To make room for the bulbs we moved a bunch of perennials and some of last year's bulbs out of the way, applying compost and root stimulant; I feel pretty confident that they'll survive the transplanting.

Knowing that after flowering, your bulb-y plants don't look so pretty while they are sittin' and gatherin' sunlight and nutrients, gettin' ready for the the following spring, we left plenty of room in front of the bulb gardens to plant annuals into.

In the back yard, petunias, annual geraniums, and marigolds provided Mrs Elliott with a lot of pleasure this summer, so we'll repeat that. Out front, I don't yet know what annuals to use. Don't need them ending up as deer pellets.

I reckon that that's something to research during winter.

I outlined the various bulb beds using bone meal for the planting guy, and while the bulbs were going in, I wandered about, deadheading and trimming the perennials, trimmed the lawn down to its final, short, length to reduce the amount of tender blades which are susceptible to frostbite (or the plant equivalent), and applied some winterizing fertilizer, which will be stored in the roots until spring and give the grass a robust start.

Sometime next week I'll spray a lawn antifungal on the grass to protect it from snow mold, something that chewed large holes in the lawn on the north terrace (i.e., front yard).

Of the three young aspens we planted between our house and the one next door, one dropped its leaves quickly without going through fall color, and I feared it might be dead and was mentally preparing to pull it and plug in a new one. But the guy at the nursery told me to check the trunk and see if the layer (the cambium) under the bark was green, which indicates that the tree is not dead, and lo and behold, it is green, so I won't lose hope yet.

Something else I did wrong last year was not water the rhododendrons in the front in winter. They dried up and died. Turns out that they, and other shrubs that are not yet established,  need water in winter like they do in summer. Who knew?

With the sprinkling system shut off, I guess I'll just water those plants with a bucket, trudging through the snow, and see if I can keep the replacement rhodies alive.

Anyway, at the end of the day yesterday, Jack was pretty darn tired. A cup of hot sencha and a bottle of Alsatian wine helped my flagging energy and spirits.

I've got a bit more to do before winter sets in. Plenty of leaves to rake, for sure. Still have four cords of firewood to source. Gonna try juniper this year.

There's a covering to be put under a part of our deck to keep rainwater and snowmelt off items I want to store there for the winter.

Each year I hope to make the yard prettier and prettier. It does so please Mrs Elliott.

2 comments:

  1. In my experience rhodies just don't do well here. I think it's the combination of the cold, the dryness and the wind. Dehydrates 'em.

    I planted a buttload of bulbs of all sorts one year and the damn squirrels dug most of them up. They weren't interested in daffodil bulbs for some reason, though, so we had a lot of color (all yellow) in the spring.

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  2. Lupine and foxglove are two fairly showy perennials that do well here, generally.

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