Thursday, April 19, 2012

Making Progress in the Garden

    Tuesday night we fulfilled a long-term commitment to gather red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea - or C. stolonifera at the MacPhail Woods). We borrowed the Family Truck and drove to the Victoria Road after supper, and dug up 10 pieces from the ditch. We discovered that they are shallow-rooted, and the stems root readily and send up new shoots. We did get involved with some deeper-rooted bits but they were really hard to get out with just a shovel - an axe would have been handy. Since they were in the ditch, they have been bush-hogged countless times, so we weren't destroying or even damaging the stock - we even took from four different clumps.
       Back home, we put them in several places, mostly on the outside of the spruce and pine hedges so they will get lots of sun, which they like. I watered them the next morning, because by the time we finished planting it was dark! I discovered that we actually have nine plants, so perhaps we put two in one spot. I put two in the "front" garden, one in the shrub border and one beside the rose bed, and one in the line of shrubs under the maple in the "back" garden - the row of shrubs now consists of: 1. P.G. Hydrangea; 2. Cotinus coggyria (purple smoke-bush), 3. Potentilla (white),  4. Cornus sericea,  5. Chaenomeles japonica, and 6. some sort of Spirea, scrumped from the garden opposite Sears.
The Six Flowering Shrubs - not yet flowering, of course!

     Quite a list. It's a bit dark under there, and I have to keep the spruce hedge trimmed or it would overtake the shrubs, but it should make a good display - sometime.  If necessary, the maple can go - it's a Norway, anyway, and I consider it a weed tree. The number of saplings I pulled up in the flower beds this spring! Some of them two or three years old!!
     The Ring-around-the-Rosey bed is looking good - the Rugosa roses are putting out buds and the one in the middle is just fountaining out, over all. I am not sure if the last-year branches will flower, so I shall keep an eye on them and if they don't, I'll prune them out. They remind me a bit of raspberries at the moment, so I won't be surprised if they don't flower on last-year's canes.
Thornless! Mystery Rose
      I had decided that it might be Rosa Pleine de Grace last year, but in reading about it just now (got to love Google!) they talk about how thorny Pleine de Grace is, and mine has no thorns, none at all. Back to the drawing board, then.
      If anyone has any ideas I'd be happy to hear them. Blooms early, once, in clusters of single small blossoms, no scent that I've noticed, no thorns, vigorous, roots readily, blooms white with a hint of pink, turns more pink as it ages. Blossoms long-lasting. I once thought it might be Rosa Banksiae but their blossoms, though small, are doubles.
    The greenhouse has had a re-vamp, I de-skinned it and worked on the strapping, replacing four broken ones with new, and then re-taped the plastic and pulled it over again. There was one bad hole where a broken strap had poked through over the winter so I just taped it up. The plastic is quite opaque, so I don't expect it will last another year, but I am hoping it will do for this one. I hoiked out the strawberry plants I'd sunk into the vegetable garden bed late last fall and they are loving the warmth of the greenhouse at the moment. They all seem to have survived, and the ones which were on the West side of the bed were much warmer and so have started into growth - much more vigorously than the ones which had been on the East. I am sure they will all catch up eventually. The outdoor strawberries (the ones in the ground) are looking well. I have uncovered one bed and am leaving the other covered, to see if it makes a difference. There were three degrees of frost last night, so the uncovered ones are shivering this morning.
Frosted Lady's Mantle, April 19, 2012
    I am uncovering flower beds gradually, and discovered that the Alchimilla mollis was coming along grandly under quite a covering of brown leaves. It was quite big, so I dug it up (with quite an effort, it had made a considerable root-ball) and used the two-forks method to divide it into five pieces. I put one in the north-door bed, two in the South, and two beside the rock steps on the side lawn bed, pulling out two huge phlox to do so. I'm trying to keep smaller plants beside the steps. I should re-plant those phlox, because they are probably the nicer-coloured ones (not the dull light mauvey-pink ones I have in such abundance) - either white or the darker pink. I must check last year's photos to be sure. 
    I located some flower seeds at WalMart (though the garden centre isn't open yet) and bought some - another package of Nemophila Total Eclipse, some Morning Glories, and Cerinthe, which I saw on Beechgrove last year and loved. I started the seeds yesterday, and some are indoors in the wee greenhouse, while the rest are in the outdoor one. Fingers crossed - it's rather late to be starting them, they say, but I think 6-8 weeks until the last frost could be now.

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