Mulch Ado About Something – Gardening post #2

Oh my goodness…This post is very, very, very late – It’s now over halfway through July and I’m pretty sure I left it half-finished at the beginning of June. Please imagine very hard that I actually posted these next couple of paragraphs a month ago —>

Gardening post 2 icon

Collage of pictures from post – Hanging plant, brush pile, and kids feeding goat. Caption reads “Gardening #2: Mulch Ado About SOMETHING!”

We’ve been continuing on a roll with our gardening madness. The back yard is almost totally cleared out but the bees are out in force which may *stem* from the fact that our huge privet hedge has just bloomed. The other morning I tried to edge the last of it but I got scared away by all the buzzing and just dumped a couple of bags of mulch and moved on to the front.

I tried my hand (well, foot, and shovel) at dividing my enormous hostas with limited success. I got one out, at least, and naturally couldn’t resist shouting, “HOSTA LA VISTA, BABY!” (I mean, really, who can blame me?)

After that I pruned the corkscrew hazelnut in the middle of the lawn, stopping to ask my neighbour for advice. When I get the energy later I’ll drag a bag of mulch from the back but for now I said *screw* it – this heat is *nuts*.

Corkscrew hazelnut pruned and mulched

Corkscrew hazelnut, pruned and mulched

Then I went to town on the euanamous bushes, which have totally overgrown the front garden. My plan (Well, our plan. We’ve discussed it and it’s *euanamous*) is to cut them back drastically, disentangle them from the other hedges, give them some shape (other than, you know, “giant amorphous blob”), and mulch and plant some lower-growing flowers in front.

I discovered, to my chagrin, a huge pile of dry sticks underneath everything that on closer inspection turned out to be an entire dead euanamous bush – proof, sadly, that the gardener I was paying $50 a visit to for the last 2 years never ventured more than 6 inches into the garden. Ah well. Live and learn.

Brush pile - mid-pruning

Brush pile from front garden MID-pruning. By the end it filled a small trailer.

Ben and Molly and I took an afternoon to check out the plants at our local farmers market, picking out lots of herbs (Ben and Molly are especially partial to lavender and mint), tomatoes, and hot peppers.

Plants from farmers market 1

Plants from farmers market – experimental ground cover, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers.

No trip to that market is complete, of course, without visiting and feeding the animals there – friendly goats, geese, and chickens.

Feeding goats

Ben and Molly feeding the goats – Molly dressed to the nines, as usual!

Ben begged for a hanging basket of flowers – “Look mommy! It has a hook, and we have hooks on the front porch! It’s perfect!”  Our neighbour Walt marched over the day after we hung it with a retractable hanger – “Here, Karyn. I’ve had this squirreled waitin’ for someone to get a plant like this. Watcha do is you pull it down and lock it, water it, then send it back up.” Ben immediately declared that it is now HIS job to water it since Walt gave him the hanger just so  he could reach it.

Hanging plant

Ben’s prized hanging plant – “Look, Molly! It’s pink! Your favourite colour!”

A few days later, on what turned out to be the hottest day of the summer so far, I decided to try to dig out that euanamous stump. It took me 2 hours and was the dirtiest job I’ve ever done, but boy did I ever feel like a superwoman when I finished. It’s a good think I wore gloves, don’t you think?

dirty arm

Dirty arm – there was dirt on my arms…in my eyes…in my teeth…in my…well, you get the picture.

I think I cemented my reputation with my neighbours, who have been watching approvingly. Ian reported when he arrived home from his 3 days away that Walt had greeted him with, “You know, that wife of yours has been out there all week working her…uh…uh…” “Tail?” “…off all week in this heat. You shoulda seen her!” Another neighbour came over one morning just to tell me how great it looked. Yay! Pat on the back for ME!

Victory is mine

I conquered the stump!! VICTORY IS MINE!!

Once that bastard of a stump was out, we planted a cutting from the forsythia in the backyard in its place. Team Pickles has a little bit of a forsythia obsession that I can’t explain…Okay, fine…it’s my obsession. It’s just such a fun word. Forsythia. Forsythia! FORSYTHIA!!! Now imagine a 3 year-old saying it – see? Awesome. We have a car game in the spring where the first person to see a forsythia while driving yells, “FORSYTHIA!”…and then…well…uh…that’s actually it until someone else sees a forsythia and yells, “FORSYTHIA.” Oh yeah? Well, I think your car games are dumb too!

Ooohkay…moving on.

Walt was also out first thing the other morning edging the front and left me with clear instructions to “Mulch the shit out of it.”

Front garden pruned

Front garden, pruned and mulched.

Heading back to the back yard, I potted (over the course of a couple of HOT weeks) all the tomatoes, hot peppers, basil, and mint. We can’t grow tomatoes or pepper in the ground because there have been black walnut trees in the yard in the past – their roots leave a toxin that affects tomatoes and peppers for decades afterwards.

Potted plants

Potted plants – tomatoes, hot peppers, and basil.

Ben and Molly helped me to plant the other herbs (cilantro, lavender, and rosemary) in the garden. I even experimented with more transplanting, moving the clumps of my orange mystery flower – now identified as blanketflower – from the herb garden to other parts of the garden.

Herb garden planted

Finished herb garden – Clockwise from top left are rosemary, cilantro, sage, chives, oregano, lavender

While moving rocks around to edge the back garden, I found a huge ant colony under a flat stone and intrepid photographer Ben ran back in for the camera to document them rushing their eggs underground.

Ants racing underground

Upper left is a purple mystery flower, lower left is the overturned stone (crawling with ants), and upper middle and right you can see the uncovered tunnels and thousands of ants racing to get their eggs underground.

Finally, I planted a couple of groundcover plants in the front, and Walt assures me that all this transplanting will be fine as long as I “water the shit out of it.” I’m starting to see a theme here.

Okay, that brings us to about mid-July. I’ll try to make the next garden post come a bit sooner than this one did so stay tuned!

~ karyn

Stone edging 2

Almost finished back garden – partly mulched and edged with stone.

Stone edging 1

Back yard side garden, mulched and edged with stone.

Pruned, roses and sweet peas in bloom

Back yard side garden, mulched, roses and sweet pea in bloom.

Blooming yellow mystery flower

Back garden, mulched and edged (once the ants were back underground). Yellow mystery flower in bloom.

How are your gardening adventures going? Do you recognize any of my mystery flowers?

 

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