By H.I. Jean Shields
Special to The Breeze
It is always a challenge to do the right thing at the right time. In a world with lots of responsibilities and interesting things vying for our attention, it is real easy to forget some basic priorities - families, friends, community affairs and our own peaceful home gardens.
The home garden should be a peaceful place to be in. A show place or a scrappy little space that we enjoy and feel free to do as we please.
Some of us will be enjoying spending a lot of money on special plants and rare trees; others checking out plant sales and sharing garden cuttings with friends.
It doesn't really matter how we go about having this special space around us that is colorful and alive, and growing with things we choose. It is the idea that there is such a place and it depends on us to care for and nurture it and will not be cross with us if we do not always do a good job.
Weeds here and there can be banished with a few extra minutes spent in the
garden beds each week, especially early morning shady spots.
Yes, I know with the hot sun and the gallons of rain we are receiving right now those darn weeds are awful healthy and growing faster than some of our planned plants.
That's OK, just keep at it and learn how to make things easier for yourself.
Are you using mulch to keep the soil around the roots cool? Are plants receiving enough moisture, but not so much that they are wet and soggy? Do you plant the right plants in the right places? I am sure you have heard that line before.
All the good rains we have been having may be making a lake or a mud hole out of some areas in the garden. You can easily find a hot dry, hard as a rock problem a couple of feet away from a soggy area. That will take extra time on your part to change the plants or amend the soil. Most plantings do not like to be neck deep in a tightly packed mulch grip.
You do have extra time to devote to gardening chores when you want to.
The key is wanting to do it and wanting to really enjoy something you have been inventing and nurturing along. Five minutes pulling unwanted greens along the walk to the front door makes a difference.
There will be yellow leaves, droopy flower stems, black spot and just plain dead plants from time to time. Go with the flow. A nice space of neat mulch without any planting can look cool around the garden.
Talk to other gardeners, they will understand about failures in the garden, and have a hint or two about why something you are planting is not doing well. You will be surprised to learn that you may be the one supplying them with a bit of gardening savvy.
We all have our minor problems. Right now I have two problems. I planted four healthy marigold plants around the mailbox a couple weeks ago. I had decided the rains were coming well and after a week or so they would be well on their way to a bushy mound. Nope. I have lost three of the plants, in the two weeks time. Not from lack of water, evidently. Who knows? They all came from the same pack? So what? Not planted too close together. No bugs seen around. They just slowly dried up completely. So now I have only one healthy marigold plant in the concrete circle around the mailbox.
The right thing to do at their demise was to pull them out and till the soil a little and just wait for the right time to put in three more. I figure the right time will be next week when I dare to go back to the big box store and go in for more Marigolds and come out with only marigolds.
The other problem is I bought two beautiful day lilies. The colors were not the striking yellow, happy returns, that I already have, but a soft pastel pink bloom, Barbara Mitchell. An excellent buy at 50 cents each. They were a bit dry but healthy.
I moved them twice, in their pots, looking for the right spot of sun vs. shade.
Then I got busy doing a lot of weeding and fighting off mosquitoes, for a week or so and now I cannot find where those two day lilies are? There's no one here but me and occasionally a son and grandson, Jeffrey. I know at 15 Jeffrey has not become attached to any day lily. The son? Well, I would be glad if he became attached to something, preferably more lively than a day lily.
So there is no one to blame but me. My friends smile and say don't worry they will show up soon. I hope so, it is a special event to me to walk around the corner of the house and suddenly see a flower blooming that was not doing so last time I was around.
That happened with a blood lily again this year. I purchased it two years ago as a bulb and really did not think it would be as beautiful as the photograph on the package. Sure enough, last year I suddenly saw it right where I had placed it, in a spot of bright light. It was just beautiful. A large pompom of dozens of tiny flowers on a large green stem. The large deep pink pompom looked great in its clay pot.
I was just starting to wonder where I had moved the pot to over winter safely. Could not really see anything familiar poking through the pots setting around. All of a sudden, before we had lots of rains and winds, there it was. More in the shade than last year but just starting to burst forth. Such a thrill to have a beautiful plant suddenly appear again, and low and behold it has started another bulb growing. That is great except now I will have to shortly take them both out of pot and separate them. I am a little uncomfortable with doing that.
I will just walk around and hopefully find out when to do the right thing at the right time.
There are lots of cool green caladiums in the market right now. Most not sun plants but look cool under trees or peeking out from a shady corner. They like a bit of water to get started, but should do well all summer.
Happy gardening until we meet again
H.I. Jean Shields is a past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.