Huge Hydrangeas and Jacob’s Demise

August 16, 2010

I bribed Dominic with lunch (why do my children always have to be cajoled with foodstuffs?) to go to Sid’s with me and we started out on Saturday afternoon. Groceries were involved too, so that was really a sacrifice on his part. When we got to Sid’s, he refused to take a cart that was outside on the premise that the ones inside would be cleaner. Sigh…. Howard Hughes at his worst has nothing on this boy.

We found a clean cart and started in the bird food/feeder aisle.

Now, this was supposed to be the Big Sale, the one where they are just giving stuff away to get rid of it. Well, advertising and reality are sometimes at odds. Dominic looked at the prices, looked at the discounts and gave me the lifted eyebrows and the little tight smile that I love so much. He said, “Oh, I can see how much money we’re saving here.” Seeing as they didn’t even have any thistle seed left, we went out to the nursery with the live plants.

Dominic has been working at an electrician shop lately so became absorbed in the light bulbs; type, length and color. His thought was that they “could knock this job out in a day, day and a half”, replace all the bulbs with new energy efficient units and save Sid’s bucketfuls of money. He is an expert now that he has been there almost a month.

Sid’s had no gaillardia and no bellflower. I found a clematis for half price and it was just about reasonable enough in full price thinking to purchase. Same for two astilbes. These were not deals and the “cut rate” prices were a little high for regular price at Sunrise. I did find a white butterfly bush for only $5 which really is a deal. Most butterfly bushes are pink or purple, so I think the white color made this one a white elephant.

When I asked for the Annabelle hydrangea, a very nice young man showed me a few very straggly numbers that were still $30 each. At this point, I was rather frustrated and said, “$30 at this super sale? And they are small, sparse plants!” He looked at me and said, “Lady, to be honest, we’re gonna sell these at any price. They just go.” Well, I went too. I bought my clematis, butterfly bush, astilbes and a few packets of seeds (still at full price!) and headed home.

On Sunday morning, because of the heat, I just wanted to get those new plants in the ground. I planted the clematis in the front, on the same trellis as the ever-annoying trumpet vine. (I’m still hoping Tony will reconsider the mandate against an arbor on the east side of house and I can move the trumpet vine there, where it will grow and attach properly.) I soaked it in with two cans of rain water, slow and careful. The butterfly bush went between the two Endless Summer hydrangeas. Now, imagine that next summer; spikes of white on airy branches bookended by mounds of blue and pink on full and thick bushes. Pretty, no? That got watered in with several cans of water too.

Then I headed around the side past the Neither Here Nor There bed and went into full blown Crazy Gardener mode. I started ripping out the lamb’s ear that was crowding the spirea, dug up the three big weeds that were pretending to be trees and torn out all the mint. When I shook the foliage frenzy away from my brain, I stepped back and saw that I was about halfway through getting rid of what I wanted to eliminate. I could feel the heat rising up from my whole body, from my arms and back, my legs and torso. I felt like a walking sauna. The heat rose and the sweat dripped down, just running in rivers. I moved the lacrosse net and finished all the ripping out, finding about six lacrosse balls in various states of decomposition. Now I have that bed clearer in my mind. I’m going to move all the hostas that wind through the garden and just put them as a border along the edge. I’ll move the grasses from the back bed to that bed, creating some taller interest. And then maybe we can get rid of the oh-so-attractive bird netting.

I sprayed the weeds in the flagstone path with vinegar (a suggestion from a reader) and crossed my fingers that it would work.

I finally did get the astilbes planted next to the pond, then I collapsed on the hammock and ate, quite literally, half a watermelon.

Tony called me on his way home from golf and asked me if $25 was a good deal for a hydrangea. Yes, I said, better than Sid’s, better than Saunoris (which I had also checked). He said, “Well, I’m at Melka’s and I’ll get them.”

Now seriously, do husbands get any better than this? He brought them home and I was floored. They were about four times the size of the ones at Sid’s, full and lush – just beautiful. Tony brought them around the house and put them on the patio. Simply gorgeous – and the hydrangeas looked good too.

Later, I dug out the Siberian iris, using the pitch fork to work around and around and around the roots, sweating all over again. The boxwood we bought at Mount Vernon was getting smothered, so it really was time to clear that space. I crunched the pitchfork into the earth and lifted, moved it over a few inches and repeated the process. I went around 3 or 4 times before the iris was freed from the soil, but it lifted out with roots intact and basically unharmed. I split it into many pieces and planted the pieces about 12″ apart in open space in the sun bed, between the new black knight and the peonies. After I filled that space, I had several pieces left over. I planted those in the new accidental bed, establishing a nice little base there now.

Dominic had friends over on Sunday and one of them brought a BB gun so they could explode poor Jacob Marley. However, this is real life and not Mythbusters. The bbs made small holes in the melon; no drama and no mess, rather anti-climatic for those young men. I giggled and Dominic put Jacob in the compost bin. I think he’ll find it nice to become at one with the soil. And I’m just realizing I’ve just anthorpomorphized a watermelon – how weird…

This evening, I moved the boxwood  to a more prominent spot, just along the flagstone path and put the dripping hose there to water it in. I dug a deep hole where the iris had been and put the dirt into a big white bucket. A hydrangea was placed in the hole, the hole backfilled and then the hose moved to water in the hydrangea.

I noticed that the vinegar really works and am now looking forward to using it on a couple of weeds that just won’t give up.

One of the accidental Christmas trees (so many things happen on accident in the garden!) was dug up, making room for that hydrangea to spread out. The hydrangea are so huge we don’t even need to wait until next year; they are beautiful and full already. I dug a good size hole in the Neither Here Nor There bed, far enough away from the house and in the space were that mint had recently reigned. I put the tree in the hole, backfilled and set a hose dripping there too.

Back to the back gardens to move the hydrangea off the patio and close to the spot they’ll end up. Gave those a good long watering while the mosquitos ate me alive and chased me inside.

Just realized I left the hose running on the Christmas tree. Ooops.

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