Double, Double, Toil and Shovel

14 Apr

One good thing about gardening is that while certain things need to be done throughout the year, I believe (hope) there is significant flexibility in when those things can be done (otherwise, I’m in trouble). There is one big exception to this philosophy: Easter. It is our one and only gardening deadline–an immutable date by which the garden must receive a serious makeover in order to present its best (or at least, not its worst) side to the guests who will come to our house for Easter. It helps that this excuse forces us to give the garden a really good start to the season, in compensation for any benign neglect that may be headed its way later.

This spring-cleaning mania also applies to Schnauzer 1 and Schnauzer 2–without fail, they get nice new haircuts so that our guests do not mistakenly assume we have taken to rearing sheep. After four hours of on-and-off grooming yesterday that neither they nor I appreciated very much, they now look like leaner and more refined versions of their former selves. They also look naked, but we are all getting used to it.

The garden, too, looks simultaneously neater and more naked. The protective fall leaves have now been replaced with a tidier layer of mulch. The emerging plants are still maintaining their distance from their neighbors; at at this time of year there is only a foreshadowing of the lushness of summer. But the garden’s current low-key appearance is deceptive. I planted or transplanted more than 130 plants during the past two weekends.

This is admittedly a bit nuts. I have a tendency to move plants around before they are in their fully active growth mode,  if I can still move them easily. Sometimes it is for altruistic reasons (to save plants  in danger of being overtaken by their neighbors) and sometimes for aesthetic ones (something else may look better there, or vice versa). But in recent days, I also replaced plants that did not survive our rough winter; filled in a new, long and narrow flower bed alongside our new-ish patio (populated entirely by some of the aforementioned transplanted plants: Montauk Daisy, roses, and Switchgrass); decommissioned the rose garden and turned it into a vegetable garden; covered a sloped area with ground cover; and installed a bird bath.

The stage is now set; time for the actors to arrive.

New (transplanted) flower bed                           Robin enjoying new bird bath

3 Responses to “Double, Double, Toil and Shovel”

  1. Gretzel April 15, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    ¿Y fotos de los perros con su nuevo corte?


  2. Leah April 15, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Wow. You definitely live in the South. It’s snowing today. Granted, that’s unusual and we’ve had really mild and even warm weather over the past couple of weeks and it should be mild again tomorrow and in the days to come. However, to be sure to miss the last frost, gardeners here wait until Victoria Day weekend (around May 24) before planting anything.


    • perennialpastimes April 17, 2014 at 10:54 pm #

      We just had two frost days; temperatures definitely dipped from last weekend! We went from 80+ degrees to 30+. But, with a couple exceptions (basil and some vegetables), everything I planted or replanted is a perennial, so should survive any cold snaps. Do you know those basil plants you can get at the grocery store? After using a few leaves for a recipe, I stuck the basil plant in the herb garden last weekend, knowing it was risky but doing it anyway. So now I have freeze-dried basil outside. I also planted a few Swiss Chard plants, which (luckily) don’t mind the cold. Our last frost date is May 8; since this week’s frost killed the basil, I don’t think I have anything else to worry about now!


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