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 ce­cil­mas­ter­gar­


Mas­ter Gar­dener BarbaraJean Smith re­placed her shrubs with a kitchen gar­den.

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