Sunday, June 14, 2009

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomaato

Well, actually you say Bermuda Grass and I say wire grass. The local gardening guy in the RTD often says that if you love the way your lawn looks with this southern bent grass, you call it Bermuda, but if you hate having to constantly pull it out of your flower beds, you call it wire grass. I would be the latter.

One of the few garden jobs that I truly hate is weeding out the wire grass. I have worked diligently to get good quality ground covers established in nearly all our beds so that they will make it unpleasant for the wire grass. You do know, don't you, that part of the role of ground covers is shading out the weeds and making it easier for them to just go somewhere else. Most of the beds are in pretty good shape, but the large bed in front where the oak used to rule is the worst one I have. Last week I sprayed with Round-up, so that this morning I tackled the remaining grass. There's only one way to do it - hands and knees with a good digging tool and lots of elbow grease. Fortunately, I had less than a quarter of it to do, and two hours later it looked really good.

That's the sort of maintenance that can make gardening less fun, but then one has to look on the good side. It looks great when it's done and I normally only do it once a year. That particular bed is in bad shape now because of taking down the oak. The falling branches and pieces of trunk made holes in the ground and gouged out small plants, so I have a bit of clean up to do, but by spring it will look much better.

The new plan for this space is to encourage the mini-St. John's Wort to fill in to cover the rest of the ground. There are two volunteer dogwoods already growing there - one nearly in the center and one more toward the center of the yard - which we are leaving. [If you look carefully, you can see the larger one "above" and just to the right of the planter in the photo.] Our experience at the old house was that in five years we had a decent-sized, blooming dogwood, so we hope to be as successful with these two. The one we transplanted into the boomerang last September has grown nearly a foot already, so we have reason to be hopeful. For the short term I am planning to put some good dirt from the compost pile in the gouges and then get a small load of mulch to cover. That will help impede the grass.

For the very short term, I've put a huge urn on the tree stump and filled it with summer blooming flowers. This one was actually in the back yard, but not getting enough sun. Did a bit of damage to the fox glove when I moved it - hence the drooping stems. I keep hoping they will straighten up, but they'll be pretty when they bloom anyway.

One other small problem we are watching: both dogwoods have mildew. I have already started a weekly spraying with copper sulfate (Andre Viette says that is the way to go.) It is only in recent years that dogwoods have gotten mildew, and the younger ones can be killed by it. Ours are only two years old, so I am watching them. Am also spraying all the garden phlox. It's also very susceptible.

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