We did it! We finally got through the deadheading and the pruning of all the gardens that that applies to. I have to tell you that this is a very hard time for a garden and its admirers. Spring comes in with a blast of blossoms in what seems like a blink. Then a month later, we're talking about deadheading and pruning plants that have spread and / or flopped. It seems like we hardly get to enjoy them. The upside of this situation is that by removing the old blooms, you make room for a fresh, new garden that will pop up in a few months. You will notice that there isn't any pictures this time. That's because the garden has been trimmed to the ground. This heat is very hard on the plants as well as us even though the plants are drought tolerant. We have also been experimenting with the irrigation system. To let you know, we water the All Star Garden one time a week for about 30 minutes. However, the heat has changed the dynamics so we're watering at least 50 minutes a week to be evaluated at the the end of the week. The key is to watch the plants for wilting, drying and general flopping. An example would be the Yarrow. The stems grow very tall with beautiful clusters of white or yellow flowers. The next time you see them, it looks like someone sat in the middle of the plant. We've tried blaming it on raccoons and little kids but the fact is, the plant just flops. Our consultant, Dave W. who is a Master Gardener and owns Spring Fever Nursery, says it may be from too much water in the form of rain this year. I have not found a good resource regarding this problem. If anyone has seen a good article on this problem, let me know. This winter we will be evaluating what can be done to reduce this general floppiness by using some sort of frame that's designed for just this sort of thing. We've also lost several plants to the heat. We'll be replacing them as the temperature cools down. So if you come out to the gardens, just know that this is seasonal and we're on it. I had lots of help on Friday from three new MGs and 3 MGs who are staunch supporters of the garden. Thanks a ton to everyone.
I was looking through my email to see when I last sent an update and I couldn't find it!! I can't believe how time gets away. And, I'm embarrassed to say, I just stopped typing to go out and sit on the patio for a while and just take it all in. It's just too nice outside to miss it. Here's what's been happening in a nutshell as they say.
We will hopefully, be working on the containers in the driveway circle soon. The pots will need holes drilled into them and then we can hook them up to the irrigation and see that they work correctly. They will remain that way until we have the plants to plant. So far, the plants that have been suggested are: Cistus (rockrose), Carex, and the one that looks like we'll actually plant is Zinnia-crystal white. This plant can really take the sun and will bloom until the next frost season. We should hopefully have these in by this month as the planting season is coming to an end i.e. the nice, cool weather and the rain to get them off to a good start. I think that's just about it.
I have been diligently writing in my garden journal to remind myself about weather conditions and what we've been doing since January. This hasn't been an especially cold winter with only a short period of light frost so far. And, of coarse in January and March, we had rain off and on with no rain to speak of in February.
February was the time to spray our fruit trees in the Kitchen Garden. Tom H. used a combination of copper and dormant oil on the peaches and nectarines to ward off peach leaf curl (copper) and over wintering insects like scales (dormant oil). Tom mentioned there should be a 48 hour window between storms to administer this treatment. The treatment is administered twice, first in December, and the second one when the bud petals start showing their color. The second treatment is the most important time to spray. For pears and apples, a different product called Serenade was used for prevention of brown rot (fungus) and fireblight (bacterium). If there are any suckers around the trunks of the fruit trees, those will be removed. I think Ken H. will at some point give his popular pruning workshop in the Kitchen Garden. The trees look great so far!
Brent McGhie has an article in "The Real Dirt" about thinning out the fruit once they start collecting on the branches so be sure and catch that here.
As for everywhere else in the garden, we have been weeding like mad. There have been several maintenance days to get caught up with this project. I was out at the garden last week and the weeds are slowly making their way back. Due to the lovely weather, we can expect to be doing marathon weed pulling.
Barbara O. and Candace B. have been planting in the Alternative Turf Garden and are ready to have the irrigation turned on now that the rain is slightly tapering off. Gee, I sure hope this isn't the end of the rainy season. Anyway, the new plants may be needing a little help.
Lyndee S. and Lynda S. have also been busy planting herbs in the Kitchen Garden.
The All Star Garden plants have been pruned down to the new growth and are looking very promising for the upcoming months. We'll also be removing some overgrown plants and replacing them with some new, even more spectacular plants in the next few weeks. The same for the Mediterranean Garden. I can't wait to see what these two gardens look like in all their glory.
The Native Plant Garden is just beautiful in its natural way. That's the good part about this garden. No pruning until the fall and a lot of the plants are in bloom. Since this is the first year when this garden is fully functional, the native plant gardeners did a small amount of pruning to get the spring growth going. I love the Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and Salvia 'bee's bliss' (Bee's bliss sage). The Wildlife Habitat Garden was just put in a few months ago so is still getting its roots in the ground so to speak.
The Weed Demo Garden is in its glory right now with all this rain and then sun. There was some weeding to do but the mulch in its various forms i.e. depth of mulch and various materials like cardboard and newspaper keep everything under control. I'm going to experiment in the control area with vinegar to see how that will affect the weeds involved. Stay tuned.
Boy, I think that's it for the moment. Let me know if I've missed anything, all you MG's out there.
The garden—it's become the focus for many of us in many ways. We not only want a garden but now we have to completely rethink about how we will have a garden. Our planet is changing very slowly and the gardens that are developed these days need to reflect those changes. We, as Master Gardeners are at the cusp of this big change. We are learning from others who have the experience, the professionals who have made it their life to know about plants and the planet and our own inquisitiveness as to how to create a garden that reflects the changes in the planet without harm to it. That's a lot. This is the first of what I hope will be many blogs regarding how we as Master Gardeners will be a part of this transition. I will let you know what we are doing out at the demonstration gardens. Those gardens will help all of us to learn and will be the conduit to the community to pass on what we learn to all of those who want to improve their skills. We'll be learning from those who visit the gardens. Ours is a fairly new organization having begun around 2008 or 2009. We have committees that include people with special skills and people that are honing the skills they may have. The gardens will show what we have learned and it's just a nice place to be. I can't wait to see what happens this spring after we just did a major pruning on the entire All Stars Garden. There is so much greenery down there at the base of the plant. But, what if we have a freeze? What if we have a hot spell? What if there's a pest that's been overwintering that we didn't notice? We will see. I look forward to passing on what's happening in the gardens and I hope it will generate more discussion to improve what we do and how we include the community through workshops, tours and just being out there when the public goes through. We love to talk about it and so does the community.