Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bullies in the Garden

Altho much of the weekend was spent working on the patio, there was still plenty else to do. Remember the plants I picked up along the way while I was getting supplies for the patio? - well they all needed to be planted. Most went somewhere in the purple river bed - either as accents or as purple plants, but in clearing space I found myself battling a bully - monarda.

About five years ago Mitchell's boss gave me three small pots of dark purple Monarda. It's a beautiful shade and the bees fight with the hummingbirds to get to the nectar, so it is a garden favorite. I love the smell of it, and the square stems, and the way it fills with bees. I love the color and the way it looks nestled in with the white Shasta Daisies. It's a favorite plant, and like most perennials it moves around a bit and the clump increases in size each year, but that's one of the joys of perennials. I like having extra plants to give away or to try somewhere else in the garden.

Apparently, tho, while I have been thinking of pavers and ponds, the bee balm brigade has tried to take the entire beach head of my garden. In short - it was everywhere! The river of purple was well on its way to being a river of bee balm. I had to dig out every single salvia, and the lilies and day lilies, and the hydrangea. Most of all I had to rescue the chrysanthemums, which were absolutely overgrown. I'm guessing I pulled a mile of monarda roots! It smelled great and I had all sorts of bees for company, but it had to come out. I suspect that I will need to give it some attention for the rest of the summer to keep the chrysanthemums clear.

One of the hard parts of gardening is deciding who's a bully. For five years monarda was a hero, filling in the blank spaces and providing great color and fragrance all summer long, and suddenly I have proclaimed it a menace. The shasta daisies could go that way any time. They spread more slowly, but their clumps are larger every year. The Obedient Plant is the same. It's currently in a place that's shadier than it really likes, so it isn't spreading at full speed, but it could go bully at any time. It's all a matter of context. As my garden changes and my plan matures, I suspect many old friends will have to be reigned in.

About the third year we were here and I had finished digging up the entire width of the backyard, and had a good many plants in place, Mitchell asked what I would do "now that the garden is finished". My reply as something like, "start moving things around". And now that's what it's all about.

I'm even more excited about my purple river now that I am beginning to see it - the salvia all came back and I have added some things this weekend and ordered a few more plants that should arrive soon, so it may be a reality by the middle of June. Then I will look around and see what I want to plan for next year.

Coming later this week: Mitchell's vegetable garden and The Big Project.

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