Monday, April 11, 2011

What to see and dig on Sunday

When my garden at 56 Gordonhurst, Montclair, is open to the public this Sunday, April 17, the viewings won't be too impressive, but I do have seven varieties of plants that you can dig and take home if your bring your own bag. Extra trowels will help, but I will have some around for the trowelless. I will not have time to distribute bags that busy afternoon.

Actually, right now there is a lilac plant on the right of my steps and two pots of columbine on the left (alphabetical order). The big pot has a columbine I dug from the compost heap, and the small one has two small plants that thought they might invade my vegetable garden. No, no! First come, first take.

For Sunday I have lots of minarda, also called "bee balm" because of the way it attracts bees (and hummingbirds), that I hope people will dig out between the street and sidewalk. It does well in the shade and has nice magenta flowers. I've enjoyed it and its visitors for years next to the north-facing house. When I made the street garden, I thought a little there might be nice. Bad idea. It behaves itself in front of the house, but thinks it wants to take over my front garden. If visitors would dig it all up and put it in tidy shady spots, I would be grateful. Warning: you don't want too much for yourself because it does spread.

Down the neighbor's driveway both chrysanthemums and strawberries are invading my lawn. I'd like that edge straightened to match the line nearer the house. Both will spread. The chrysanthemums are yellow, and their ancestor was given to me by Fred's parents after their 50th anniversary celebration in 1985. They like my front yard, and I like them, but I have some to share.

There are also strawberry plants in the back yard to be dug to straighten the edges of the lawn.

Both in the front and back Dutch iris needs to be trimmed. These have smaller light purple flowers that bloom the week after the Siberian iris. They were given to me by Mrs. Stroili down the street when I moved here in 1975. She brought them when she immigrated from Holland and told me as she delivered them, "They are guaranteed. If they die, they will be replaced." I didn't need to cash in on the guarantee and now have some to share. They aren't terribly invasive, but they've had plenty of time.
Years ago I bought one oregano plant at a Crane's House sale, and its progeny need to be curbed from the back lawn. I'd also like less under the kiwi arbor.

The myrtle (also called vinca or periwinkle) was at the back of the yard when I moved in, but it's moving toward my garden and I have plenty for folks who want to help me retrieve my lawn and take some home.

The garden itself won't be nearly as impressive. You can see tomato plants in WOWs and garlic looking good. I'm not going to invite visitors into the inner garden this time because I don't want to risk damage to the electric fence and you can see fine from the grass now. It's far from the jungle I anticipate in the July and Sept. Open Gardens.

You can see over the fence that the low peas are nicely up. I'm planting out lots of broccoli INSIDE the fence, hoping for a crop for the first time in three years. I'm feeling seriously broccoli-deprived, and there is nothing you can buy that tastes anything like garden broccoli. You will also be able to see the pathetic collards plants that I started from seed in February. Or was it March? Usually I'm eating fresh collards in March, but this year it will be well into April if I'm lucky.

I will leave up my cold frame, partly to show it off, but partly because this year's garden crises mean our eating patterns are different from other years, when by now I have planted that spot to beans and corn. Next week will have to do this year.

With decent eyesight, you will also be able to see my lettuce, pac choi, arugula, and Tokyo Cross turnips, tiny seedlings sowed directly in the garden.

So I expect a respectable show. Right now the flowers are lovely, and I hope that lasts five more days. This year's problems have given this gardener a slight spasm of stage fright, but I think I will have recuperated my composure (and my garden's) by Sunday. See you then!


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