Saturday, May 14, 2011

A nice day off during the week=lots accomplished outside!

A day off during the week, and it was a warm sunny day, and I got to spend 10 hours of it working outside beautifying our yard…woohoo!

The first thing I had to take care of was trimming the Boxwood bushes and the Burning Bushes in our front gardens.  Some people like to do the pruning in the fall, or while the bushes are dormant, but with these particular types I always trim them this time of year, just before installing fresh new mulch.  I prefer these plants to look very neat and proper rather than “fluffy”, however more importantly, the trimming helps the bush to stay full and leafy instead of growing stringy and sparse.  As some of the new growth starts to look shaggy, I give them a hair cut, just snipping off a little of that part, to keep the bushes even, and let them use their energy growing leafiness rather than length. Don’t worry I don’t trim off all that much; the overall plant is still getting bigger each season.
Trimming Tip:  Use sharp long bladed scissor style hedge trimmers
sharp so that they will actually cut cleanly and not damage the part of the plant you want to keep intact and a long blade allows for easier, more level cutting.

When you are cleaning up things in the garden, you might be tempted to chop off all those green leaves still standing from the daffodils which are finished blooming now.  DON’T do it!  Daffodils, along with all other bulb type of flowers, must keep their leaves for a while after their blossoms have faded. It is in those leaves that photosynthesis takes place…feeding the plant and rejuvenating the bulb to last through dormancy and happily bloom for you next spring.  A general rule is when the leaves have wilted and turned yellow, then you may cut them off to the surface of the ground.  Before that point, if you get tired of looking at them, just do what I do…tie them in a knot. Yep, just like in this picture. This allows the  bulb to be fed but gets those stringy leaves down low and less noticeable in your flower beds.

Now is also a good time for splitting some plants that have multiplied and overgrown their spot in the garden.  One such culprit is the Hosta, a good grower in shady locations.  As you can see in the picture here, the plant is just beginning to come up and open some of its leaves, so you can definitely see where it is and if it is still going to be the right size once it opens fully.  If you wait too much longer to divide or move the Hosta, then the foliage will wilt back considerably and you will have to cut it off and wait for new growth to come up.

Hosta Happenings: Divide & Conquer--Its ok to dig up the whole root ball now and then pull apart the clump carefully removing enough so the remaining plant and its neighbors will have enough space. Replant the part you want right there and move the extra pieces someplace else or give them away.  Be sure to thoroughly water your transplant and your disrupted main plant to help them get reestablished.

After tidying up the flowerbeds, and rebuilding some stones around the mailbox and a decorative pathway, I was ready to mulch! And mulch I did! I think I ended up installing half of our pile so far, right around 5 yards.  PHEW! Lots of work, but it looks good.  We like to use a mulch color that is called “cherry chocolate”.  Sounds good right?  

My Mind on Mulching:
Good mulch is aged somewhat and ground up well. It does not have huge slabs of wood in it, and is not so fresh (“green”) that it is steaming hot (yah, you can see the little heat wiggles coming off of the pile, just like off a hot car sitting in the sun)  If your mulch is too “hot” then it will most likely burn your plants, not all of them just the ones you have to spend money on every year (annuals like petunias, impatiens, begonias, geraniums and so on). So, it is beneficial to go to the supplier and look at the product, rather than simply calling up the neighborhood landscraper and ordering up a delivery of some mystery material made of old pallets and who knows what else!  Oh, I almost forgot, the reasons for mulching are that it makes the flowerbeds and areas around some of the trees look more well-kept (duh, of course) but it first helps retain moisture in the soil  Secondly, it fosters nice climate for earthworms (not to be dug up to go fishin’ but for keeping the dirt loose and aerated).  And thirdly, mulch acts as a barrier against weed growth.

I think that is enough work for one day, so I’ll be back soon to tell you what else is on my to do list.

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