100 Plants per hour

It’s not even June yet but it’s already planting week (month) at Blithewold. We hit the ground digging this week, clocking about 100 plants per hour. It’s not a competition but like every May/June we race against time and and the weather to get everything out of the greenhouse and into the ground before summer’s inevitable heat wave. And it’s amazing how much we can get done — and how quickly — with our volunteers’ help. For the most part, the digging was easy because we always place our annuals/tender perennials in the soft fluffy soil left after forking out the tulips. But our accomplishment still makes my head spin. New plants include a brilliant pink flowering tobacco that is supposed to be Nicotiana ‘Lime and Purple Bicolor’ in the North Garden, Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame, Salvia farinacea ‘Cathedral Sky Blue’, and Phlox drummondii ’21st Century Blue’ in the Rose Garden.

The Rockettes planting the North Garden 5-28-14North Garden view with a hit of our new pink nicotiana

This week, not only did we plant about 500(!) new plants in the North and Rose Gardens, we also weeded (they too are unstoppable during planting month), forked out the last of the tulips, and conditioned the soil in one of the Rose Garden beds. Gail came up with a concoction of amendments that included green sand, bone char, blood meal, granite meal, alfalfa meal, gypsum pellets and compost, which should give the roses a boost for the coming season and help combat soil compaction. We also were able to add some pieces of bluestone the same bed to use as stepping stones in hopes that cutting down on foot traffic through the beds will help keep compaction to a minimum too. I’ll keep you posted. So far, I’m thrilled to have places to put my feet. The only trick will be not to plant very tall things between the steps…

A concoction of soil amendments for the Rose GardenScratching in the soil conditioners

Meanwhile we also remembered to notice the progress of the season itself. It was a week of whiplash temperatures — 80s one day to 50s the next (and into the 40s at night) but despite a slow start this spring, it looks like the plants are catching up. The surviving roses (we did lose a couple) are suddenly looking extra healthy and all budded up for their June huzzah. Columbine and allium are beginning to bloom away, and the Rock Garden has never looked more beautiful.

Allium schubertii beginning to bloom in  the Rose GardenThrift (Armeria maritima) in the Rock Garden

Are you racing against the weather to get your new plants in the ground too?