Friday, May 24, 2013 | | Annuals, annuals, Chelsea chop, cutting back perennials, garden design, greenhouse, How, When, What-we-do, North Garden, planting, Rock Garden, spring planting, tender perennials, tender perennials
If it wasn’t for Gail’s lists and ability to prioritize, I’d probably have lost my tiny mind by now. There is so much to do that seems to need doing right-this-minute that without the lists, I’d feel pulled in a gajillion different directions at once. Like I am at home. (Let this be a lesson to me.)
Our priority for this week was to plant annuals and tender perennials — to get them out of their confining nursery pots and into the ground, now that the nights are suddenly and consistently warm. But first, before we could do that, we had to take the tulips out of the gardens. (We plant annuals in the tulips’ place, which is great because it keeps the soil we plant in fluffy and easy to dig.) The timing worked out perfectly: most of the tulip flowers that held on into this week were shattered by rain so we had no remorse digging them up for summer storage down cellar. (We’ll let the foliage die back for a week or two before detaching it from the bulbs. Then we’ll keep the bulbs dry and dark in labeled paper bags until we’re ready to plant them again in the fall.)
But first, to make room downstairs for the tulips, we had to bring up the dahlias. Again the timing was just right because they’re beginning to grow. We potted some up and will plant the rest directly in the ground in the next week or two.
But first, to make room in the greenhouse for the dahlias — and to harden off the plants that needed planting this week — we had to move them outside. And then we had to place them where we wanted to plant them in the gardens. I wish I had gotten pictures of everyone working so hard to accomplish all of this but I had plants or a spade in my hand the whole time too. (I wish I was better at multitasking…) Instead here are the Rose and North Garden after tulips-out and planting.
If planting (with its attendant to-dos) was all we had to keep track of I could probably keep my head and post a blog or two. But we were also pulled towards the plants already in the gardens, which have responded to the change from spring to summer with a burst of growth. Keeping up with the weeds is one thing but it’s also time to do the Chelsea Chop (so named because the timing coincides with the world famous Chelsea Flower Show in London). Mid-to late-summer bloomers can use a trim by a third to a half now (and even again a time or two before the end of June) to keep them from becoming leggy or top heavy and splaying open as they bloom. It takes hard-core optimism to whack back beautiful new growth but after forgetting to do it, I can say it’s well worth it. Especially for plants like agastache, beebalm, rudbeckia, coreopsis, asters, boltonia, helianthus, kalimeris, Sedums like ‘Autumn Joy’, … Their flowers might come out a little later and they might be smaller but there will be more of them and the plant will look lush. And if we don’t have to run around staking things later, it’s time well spent.
And to top off “planting week”, Betsy and Gail added container design to yesterday’s list so that we could plant them today while a little more rain waters the gardens in.
What’s on your to-do list right now? (Do you write one or do you go a little nuts like me?) Do you remember to stop and enjoy it?