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This & That from Steve

  Efficient folk seem to be able to accomplish all they desire. However, I’ve yet to be called efficient by anyone familiar with my ways.  I’d dearly love to check in on these pages more than once or twice a season with thoughts or comments, but the days are inevitably and unfortunately filled with other tasks that take precedence.  Perhaps if I had a sidekick, a Steve Kelley Jr……., but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

  At any rate, the work schedule is calming a bit, fall looks to be just around the corner and an air of melancholy floats above me.  Perfect timing to take up the pen.

  Hasn’t this summer been just about ideal for gardens and gardeners!  An early spring, moderate temps, well-timed rains (that hail early summer gratefully passed around us) and a paucity of mosquitoes all conspired to frame a pleasantly memorable season.  Not too many quibbles.  Oh, the Japanese beetles were at their destructive best (worst?), attacking plants we’d not seen them bother before, slugs were rife, and weeds got an early start and bedeviled gardens relentlessly.  But prodigious bloom made up for the calamaties – Daffodils were colorful well into June, Phlox and Oriental Lilies outdid themselves, Alliums and Calamint are still attracting bees, and Japanese Anemones are awash with buds, promising a bumper crop of beauty into fall.

  At the nursery, we’ve begun to revitalize plantings in the woodland garden.  This garden was great uncle Rod’s pet and in his last years he spent all his free time puttering around there.  Regrettably, we haven’t been able to lavish such attention.  Ostrich Ferns and Snakeroot have taken over; other plants have been dug for sale, leaving bare spots and a lack of diversity. We’re in the midst of cleaning out a few beds and replanting- a fun project.  We’ll try for layers of plants, as in nature.  Spring bloomers will take starring roles – Primroses, Epimediums, Trilliums, Hellebores, Bloodroot and Shooting Stars.  A range of Ferns, Solomon’s Seal, Spikenards (‘Sun King’ is a favorite these days) and Sedges will be a soothing, restful complement spring through fall.  Hostas, sad to say, won’t play a part, as we can’t keep deer at bay.

  Another change at the nursery involves the Daylily bed that has existed out front along Watertown Road.  Truth to tell, this planting has been just far enough out of our purview of late that it has suffered maintenance and has as well been a buffet for deer, leading to a meager display of color.  We’re about to close out this bed, moving the plants closer to our sight.  What will become of the plot is up in the air, but we’re inclined to turn it over to a prairie meadow, a fancy Dan term for a grassland punctuated with flowering perennials.

  Cool weather brings the perfect opportunity to assess garden performance.  Is it time to refresh?  Do plants need dividing, are plants giving you as much satisfaction as you’d imagined?  If you’ve taken garden notes during the year, you’re aware perhaps of plants that need dividing or replacing.  Is that Monarda taking over or is it prone to mildew?  What about the floppy Russian Sage or Hydrangea?  Time to give them a Heave – Ho?  Was the garden deficient in color or interest midseason?  September is a dandy month to make garden changes, it’s a great feeling to know the garden will be in fine form for the coming season.

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