Planning For Next Year

September 26, 2010

I should not be allowed a trowel after September 1.

In transplanting the squirrel tail grass, I dug up daffodils. In transplanting a pathetic barberry bush (should really call it a stick), I sliced into the cache of red lily bulbs next to the patio. How is it that even when I stop dead in my tracks and try to replant it all, there always seems to be too much to put back in the hole and I’m left with bulb corpses? Is there some force of nature that instantly swells the dirt and does not allow replanting?

My goal this fall is to get the Neither Here Nor There bed organized and replanted. On the way over there this afternoon, of course I was sidetracked by the weeds in the front lawn and pulled about a dozen dandelions. Most of the roots just snapped, so I’m sure they’ll be back bigger and stronger than ever next spring. I trimmed the chives in the front bed and pulled a few more cinnamon-fern-that-aren’t.

I got around the corner (finally) and started pulling the mint I planted a few years ago, which has turned out to be aggressively invasive. While it does emit a clean scent, like chewing gum, when stepped upon, it is starting to move into the grass, under the spyria and all around that bed. It needs to be nipped now.

I dug up the hostas that I had originally planted in a fluid sort of curve throughout the bed. That curve was a nice concept, but really didn’t work out as the evergreens have grown much faster than anticipated. Most of the time, the hostas disappear behind a bush or tree. After thumping the hosta bunches against the house to break off clods of dirt, I cut them carefully apart with my trowel. While I usually screw up at least a quarter of them, breaking them off at the base and leaving no root to plant with the green, this time I didn’t mess up a one. Each and every section had roots and green and was able to be planted. The edge is now about 2/3 of the way finished, with the hostas lining the boundary of the bed. I can see it already next year in my mind; after the Damn Rabbits have finally left them alone, they’ll make a green and white bounce of leaves along the side of the house, hemming in those evergreens of all shapes and sizes.

The coral bells in that bed have just run rampant and I stopped at the rim of that group, to think again and come back another day to finish. Do I want to separate those coral bells? Do I want to dig out the ones closest to the edge of the bed to continue the hostas, or have that break to mix things up a bit, add some more color and texture and shape with a bit of surprise in the middle of the border? Won’t that be pretty next year?

The grass is growing in those blank spots. It is almost filled in completely.

I checked the vegetable garden and found one bright red tomato – with blossom rot on the end. We should have enough spinach for salads by the end of this week and the beans are tall, tall, tall. I hesitate to have hope for the beans, as the warm weather has indeed slammed shut, and they will need some heat to bloom. The warmest day predicted this week will only be 70. No sign of the peas yet. I’ll need to water tomorrow – and set a timer.

I notice a fuzz of spiderweb on the milkweed, but realize it’s dragonfly wings upon closer inspection. He does not move when I make photographs. I wonder if the cold air has made him sluggish, or if this is truly a corpse.

A northern harrier, majestic and grey, swoops low over my head and through the yard. The compost bin is now left open to soak up rain and sun. I haven’t seen Francine or Clarence so I’m hoping they moved out from the new lack of privacy or were picked off by the predator birds. Really, hoping they were picked off by the birds. That would be a nice Permanent Solution to the problem.

On my way around the corner, I am charmed by a colorful surprise – orange mums growing under the pampas grass, tucked right alongside and visible only if you’re paying attention.

The pond is beginning to be choked with leaves and branches, so I ordered bird netting today from Amazon. Amazingly enough, it told me that I ordered that same product in September of 09. I am apparently a creature of habit and a brand loyalist. Next weekend, I hope to get the pond closed, cattails cut and netting spread. That will be the “putting to bed” of the garden, when lawn chairs are put away, hammock rolled up, all the tchotchkes and artwork stored in the attic.

Yesterday was senior Homecoming for Eliza and also a visit to ISU, planning for her own next year. We drove up to the bridge and she said, “I love this place!” We walked the campus with the tour guide and heard someone shouting loudly in cow-like tones and she said “I love this place!” We talked with Matt Black who told her the library’s entire sixth floor is devoted to the theatre – with its own librarian – and she said “I love this place!” Later, she was sparkling and oh so effervescent, dressed in green with silver shoes, ready to dance her last Homecoming night away.

If we hadn’t tied a string to her feet, we would have lost her in sky, floating above us with joy.

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