Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A few Aliens, Some Theory and Lots of Practice - Garden Report for June

We've had a water-logged June after a winter with very little precipitation, (which for me, non-Northerner that I am, has been fantastic!) This has meant not having to be worried about loads of snow and cold and not having to water the garden - it's a win/win proposition! In fact, I'm experiencing a fair amount of gardening self-satisfaction (all right, hubris) despite the fact that I have little to no right to claim credit for how well things are going this year. Amazingly, this weekend I finally got the last of my three new trees planted. It's a long story complete with sobbing violins, but suffice it to to say that no good deed goes unpunished and having been given a gift by my colleagues, I suddenly discovered I had no good place to plant the trees that I had so eagerly acquired. The cherry had found a place in the center of the yard in May, but the other two trees wept languidly in their pots for weeks.

We had a nice er.. squirrel house on a pole and discovered that the trees around it were not intentionally planted by the previous owners, but instead comprised the dreaded European buckthorn along with other invasive non-native plants - so out they went and the cherry had a nice new home. Spousal unit D. thought I was crazy when I insisted we could not just drag the herbacious monstrosity out into the brush to languish and die. Anyone who has seen any of Ridley Scott's movies knows that alien beings proliferate like bread mold - planting their seed in any and every available host. So we sat and spent a good hour stripping the berries off the buckthorn and sending them to our version of the decontamination chamber. (Even so, there will be no sex until I'm absolutely sure that neither of us is growing secret thorns or has black wormy things creeping around in our eyes. (Thank you Prometheus for several sleepless nights!)

Planting the next two trees turned out to be quite a herculean event. There was this area where a tree had died a few years ago and I thought if we just knocked down the rotted stump, we could replace it with at least one of the new trees. (What is it the Germans are always saying about practice versus theory? "Der Unterschied zwischen Theorie und der Praxis ist in der Praxis noch größer als in der Theorie."  The difference between theory and practice is greater in practice than in theory.) In essence the tree was still solid and it wasn't going anywhere without plastic explosives and a detonator.

So we worked around the problem ... literally. By cutting down some of the nearby trash trees, we were able to plant the two new trees on either side of the old stump and thus give them sufficient distance from each other and also lots of future mulch to feed their roots as the old roots deteriorate. I hope this works ... (now what was that quote about theory and practice again?)

So here is the weeping Spruce in its new home.

Here it is from a better angle.  You can see the larch on the left and the spruce on the right. Of course the symbolism of my new trees is not wasted on me. Both the cherry and the larch, because they are deciduous stand for death and rebirth. The larch is a symbol of protection and boldness and the spruce relates to dreams and intuition and is a protective female spirit in Celtic mythology. In Siberia (and I do consider this place we live in now Siberia!) it is believed that man and woman were created from a larch and a fir, so it is somehow appropriate for our home that our Spruce and our Larch ended up as partners in the same space.

So it had been accomplished - the trees had their new homes and I was done. or was I? About that time my gardening hubris kicked in again and I knew I wasn't finished yet. There was a big gaping black spot in front of the stump where the spruce was originally going to be planted.

It was time to forage!  From neighboring beds I gathered together a selection of flowering perennials and went to work: Yellow daylilies from the back garden. The blue bells in the red and white garden (What were they doing there anyway? - I had only planted red or white plants in that garden! You remember -  I've ranted about this before - No Orange Flowers, EVAH!!) Some white campanulas and sun drops from the Tier garden and then I set to work. Adding a few left over annuals from my endless plant-buying sprees - some marigolds and some pansies gave me the beginnings of a nice purple and yellow (and white) garden. Unfortunately it won't look good until next year or maybe a few years down the line, but I'm excited about the idea. Theoretically it is going to be boffo! (Yeah, yeah, theory and practice, I get it!)

So on another note (or maybe it's still all about MY hubris) I've been counting the day lilies with buds and calculating percentages. The first regular season day lily actually bloomed about three days ago.

A week ago there were about 37 day lilies (38.9%) with buds and 58 without. Today when I checked there were 77 (81.9%) with and 17 without. (Can you spot an obsession when you see one?) Still that is quite a turn around in the period of a week. (And yes, I am aware that there 95 in the first count and 94 in the second - sometimes I'm not sure where one clump ends and the next begins.)  I do have more than 90 different kinds of day lily now and seem to still be collecting. (I still have a bit of space along the driveway, so I don't see this obsession ending any time soon. Sometimes it jumps from one object to another. I used to collect Iris compulsively too, but an invasion of good old Macronoctua onusta... 

Whoops, sorry, wrong alien!

...So an invasion of Macronoctua onusta (i.e the iris borer - Cross yourself three times and spit when you hear that name!) took out a huge portion of my collection (including some irises that had cost me a good portion of a month's salary - so that was the end of that and I decided to obsess over the humble daylily instead.))

(Thank you, Tie guy II for the photo

Speaking of garden self-satisfaction, I bought this plant a few years ago and it never ceases to give me huge jollies every time it blooms. Isn't that the most unearthly-looking flower you have ever seen?

How could one help but smile seeing that in the garden?

Unless of course you wake up with it next to you on your pillow and your name is Matthew (or Miles) Bennell. They're here!

Speaking of alien invaders, I caught a picture of one out in the yard the day we were planting trees. Do you see him?

No, that isn't a lumpy parasite  on that pine tree, it's, it's....

... The man with the Iron saw.

Now then, here's a better angle. Once he started cutting things down to make space for the new trees, he didn't seem to be able to stop. When I looked up I suddenly discovered our thicket had become a clearing!

So in theory the brunt of the garden work is over for the season and now we can sit back and enjoy the flowers of our labors. Of course there are little things left to be done here and there.  I need to buy some mulch for that new bed. I have this idea that putting a little bark down will transform my bedraggled little garden into an attractive garden oasis. Another thing those Germans say about Theory and Practice is:  "Die Theorie träumt, die Praxis belehrt." - Theory dreams and practice instructs. I guess I'm still in the dreaming stage.

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