Our Garden by Linda Cobb
here is a quick list of how to get the garden ready for spring. Also listed below is an important symposium listing that will be held in Spartanburg on Sept 19, 2013. Fergus Garrett and Aaron Bertelsen are coming to speak
Winter is leaving the building and springtime is knocking at the door. Thank Goodness!!!! The first thing on your to do list is to go to the calendar and make a note in September to buy some bulbs. I am sure you are admiring all the bulbs coming up in your neighbors garden right now. Make a promise to plant your own in the fall. We planted 1100 bulbs here in my garden last fall. They are all pushing up through the soil and my garden is a thing of fresh beauty right now. There are 600 tulips and 500 daffodils scattered through the garden. I have also planted 300 snowdrops this year. I learned this tip in gardening school at Great Dixter in England. I have planted the snow drops under the arch of my hosta leaves. That space is relatively unused and when the snow drops are up and blooming, the hosta is underground. After the snowdrops bloom and keep their brown leaves on, the hostas will come up and hide the ugly foliage. That is good succession planting.
After the garden is all cleaned up, and the beds raked, it is time to prune down all of the dead foliage from the daylilies and other perennials. Now is the best time to divide some of those huge daylilies and hostas. Lift them out of the ground, and unceremoniously chop them into three of four pieces. You can plant two of the pieces and give away the third piece. That is the gardener’s golden rule, to share. Now is the time to cut off all of the wintered over hydrangea blooms. I leave mine on the bush throught he winter for winter interest and the birds. They use that material to build nests. Speaking of the birds, I am sure that you have noticed how loud they are right now. That is a sure sign of spring. I clean out my birdhouses with long kitchen tongs and scrub out the bird baths and fill them with fresh water. I have made my visit to Wildbirds Unlimited and purchased the giant bags of Supreme Bird seed mix along with some thistle seed for the yellow and red finches. I will keep my birdfeeders clean and filled. I go out and check the holes in the feeders every so often, as bad westher can clog up those holes and when no bird seed comes out the birds will cease to feed there. I want to invite nature into my garden.
I have ordered all kinds of plants from the plant cataolgs and they will be rolling in soon. Then the big chore comes when we have to plant them out. In January I ordered all my weird and unusual vegetable seeds. They are all coming up under the grow light setup in the garage. This year I am going to grow some of those big pleated and ruffled tomatoes. I am growing the new white skinned cucumber, and the red flesh radishes. In addition, I will grow the green bean called Dragon’s Tongue that is cream colored with purplke stripes on them. In addition I am growing mini chocolate bell peppers, and some striped togo eggplants. All of these seedlings will have to be potted up soon as they are sporting their first set of real leaves.
What is a trace element? It is things like copper, iron, boron. These nutrients come down in rainfall and they are very beneficial to our plants. So to be sure my plants are getting enough of them I only use trace element fertilizer. It does make a difference, big time! It is time to feed and prune your standard hybrid tea and English roses. After cutting them down to three to four feet, feed each bush with one half cup of Epsom salts. Throw it on the ground and let it dissolve into the soil. It will help them to wake up and grow.
Spring is the time to feed those perennials, and other flowering shrubs. This feed formula is so strong that once a year is all that is needed. In a large wheel barrel, mix in by volume (a bucket of each to measure) one third peat moss (that is the buffer), one third cottonseed meal (that is a long term organic feed), and one third 10-10-10 with trace elements. Mix it all up with a shovel and apply to your perennials. It is very important to remember to not get any of this mix on the leaves of your plants. Scatter it on the ground without touching any leaves.
Let’s talk about how much feed formula and who gets it. If you are a cone flower or daylily sized plant, feed it one half cup per bush. If you are a peony feed three fourths of a cup. If you have clematis vines that will not bloom, feed one cup to the vine. Weigela and especially all hydrangeas get this miracle feed potion. The feed should be dug into the ground and then watered in. But if you are organized you can apply it and then mulch over it without digging it in. Annuals should be fed a little 10-10-10 with trace elements one a month April through October.
After you finish all of these chores, sit down and take a break. Close your eyes and dream about how great your plants are going to look. After your rest, it will be time to get busy mulching all of your garden beds with triple ground hardwood mulch. I like to put down two inches all over every bed every year.
Growing Great Gardeners:
A fundraiser symposium for Great Dixter Gardens scholarship program
Featuring horticulturalist Fergus Garrett & Aaron Bertelsen
Thursday September 19, 2013.
10am to 3pm
Tracey Gaines Auditorium
Campus of Spartanburg Community College
Three lectures with Lunch
Tickets $60.00 per person
Tickets go on sale August 1, 2013
Master Gardener Linda Cobb in partnership with Spartanburg Community College Foundation and the SCC Department of Horticulture brings you a one day garden symposium featuring world renown horticulturalist Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter in England, and horticulturalist Aaron Bertelsen, also from Great Dixter. Great Dixter is the former home of the late Christopher Lloyd, and is now a center for learning. Dixter trains gardeners and turns them out into the world to tend all the gardens in Europe, England, and the United States.
The day begins at 10am with the first lecture given by Fergus Garrett on “Good planting, and designing with plants”. Fergus teaches us what makes a plant a good one. Does it give you four seasons of performance? That will be followed by lunch. Then Aaron Bertelsen will talk to us about “Life in a 16th century Manor House”. Aaron is Great Dixter’s house manager, chef, and assistant gardener. Finally, Fergus will talk about “Succession Planting, extending the seasons”.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear this world class gardener speak on great garden basics that can help impact your own garden and at the same time support Dixter’s Scholarship program
Contact: Linda Cobb
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