Redoing garden hard work, but comes with reward
Special to the Whig
As I gaze at my little kitchen garden, I feel such comfort and pride. After talking about this for years, finally it has come to pass.
Just last winter there was a band of three large shrubs, which had grown too large and quite tall. ( The “gift” of shrubbery is more of a “bane.”) With such large bushes, we could not see who drove up into our lane. The entryway looked natural, but did not seem homey or welcoming – so we ripped the bushes out!
With the removal of the main hedge, we could already see improvement. The root removal took the longest and was the most intensive work, but left us with a blank slate. Yippee!
Knowing what our blank slate could support would help direct what plants would best fill the space. After testing the soil with the University of Delaware, we amended with sand and compost, which greatly improved the soil and enhanced our planting options. To visually spruce up our bare garden, we used bricks around the edges to make a definite border and frame the new bed. Finally, we could plant. Although the past spring was cold and wet, spring is the best time to fill in a new bed. The butterfly bushes ( buddleia) went in first, as they have the most permanence in our garden. Next, we moved the Joe-Pye weed, some hardy hibiscus and bulbs, which we brought in from dif- ferent parts of the garden or received as gifts from friends. This was done in no particular order, as they would all adapt well with our butterfly theme.
Then the herbs, for their great welcoming aroma, and finally “the pretties,” as our grandbabies call the blooming flowers that would help feed our local nectar- gathering insects and humming birds.
It’s now months later, and our peas are growing up trellises made from fallen branches. In our herb portion grows rosemary for beef stew in the fall, dill for carrots and fish, basil for pesto, and parsley for almost anything. Our lavender – a gift from my son, who helped immensely with planting, root removal and general muscle when needed – is hardy and smells like heaven. I’ve already made sachets with the buds.
We also have an abundance of offerings from the farm where my mom grew up, in the way of lilies, ageratum and old- fashioned hostas, most of which had been planted by her mother. I can see my mommom laughing in heaven now. She would be so proud to see her legacy continue.
There is a bowl of lettuce growing on the porch, so it’s protected from the hot glare of the sun. We just keep cutting the lettuce with scissors for our fresh salads as needed, and reseed as necessary in that same pot. The dahlias have started to sprout. There won’t be flowers for a while, not until the heat of the summer, but time is on our side. The tomatoes in all their different varieties are spreading nicely. Sunflowers are about 2 feet tall and growing taller, oh joy!
It is a work in progress, but if I can do this, you can too.
Each week, a Cecil County Master Gardener will write in to share their gardening experiences or answer a gardening question. To submit questions to the Master Gardener, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Master Gardener BarbaraJean Smith replaced her shrubs with a kitchen garden.