The weather has been absolutely perfect all week: upper 60’s or even low 70’s with lots of sunshine and just a gentle breeze. No one could ask for better bulb planting conditions, especially considering the rains awhile back had softened the soil so digging was easy. As always, the Front Garden was planted first. And as always, the editing began.
Editing is a big part of the bulb planting process. Of course any weeds are “edited” out. I’m always surprised at how many baby weeds are exposed as I cut back the perennials, lurking there, growing, hoping to make my spring work load busier. It’s so much easier to remove baby dandelions, so worth that effort now. Next any perennials that really need dividing are dug, cut, and a clump returned to one edge of the hole. That leaves a nice hole to insert some tulips. Since they rarely come back, the perennial will have plenty of space in the future. That’s two jobs in one maneuver, and I’m all for that! Only one time digging and fertilizing, but I get happy perennials and beautiful new tulips in one hole.
Sometimes, the editing is bigger. For instance, the variegated sedums were planted in the Front Garden five years ago. The foliage was a nice textural element, but every year the ugly “pink” blooms had to be trimmed because they just don’t go well with all the apricots and oranges that are the base of the color scheme to go with the house’s brick. See all that pink in the photo? That’s the sedum. And, the variegated leaves can be overcome by solid green leaves unless they are removed periodically. So this time, the entire sedum planting was removed. That created a very large hole, in which tulips, a clump of daffodils, and a few crocus were planted. There’s all winter to decide what perennials will replace the sedum.
The yellow daylily clumps had grown too large to fit under the golden sumac, so they needed to come out. In addition, dozens of black-eyed Susans had self-seeded under the sumac. The daylilies were dug and given to a neighbor. The “susies” were dug and discarded. Now the entire area under the sumac was clear, and made a perfect place to plant snowdrops! Located close to the back door, they will be so visible when they bloom, and they will appreciate the light shade the sumac will provide once it leafs out. Some annual may or may not be planted under the sumac in summer. That’s another winter thought project.
Also in the Deck Garden, lots of clumps of garlic chives were edited out! I love that it blooms in August with white starry flowers that beneficial insects love, but even though I try to clip off all fading flowers before they drop seed, apparently I’ve missed some here and there, because there were just too many clumps in the wrong places. Eleven large clumps were removed, along with cutting off lots of verbena bonarensis so it won’t self-seed everywhere and removing some verbena plants that were in the wrong locations. Also, lots of volunteer phlox seedlings were pulled, especially around the roses, who need lots of sunshine and air circulation.
Of course, since I don’t use labels in my gardens occasionally a clump of bulbs is discovered when a hole is dug. When that happens, half the bulbs are removed because they are nearly always overcrowded, fertilizer is sprinkled around the bulbs left in the ground, and the hole filled with compost. The bulbs that were removed is then put in a cardboard box until a spot is found for them. This year, I ran out of bulbs before I even got to the windowbox garden by the Lady Cottage and the North Island. So, they got the “bulbs in the box.” It will be fun to see what comes up there. And, since the basic color scheme is used throughout all the gardens, it can’t be glaringly awful.
Over 1300 bulbs were planted this year, plus there are hyacinths, amaryllis, and a few small daffodils to force indoors this winter. I’ve done my part to help save the bulb farmers this year, and can’t wait to see the first blooms in early spring. Now that the bulbs are finally planted, it’s on to building those berry box covers….after the I U vs. Michigan football game, of course!