Spring nearing means garden renovations

Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 13, 2016

Annuals are taking over the cutting garden and hiding the perennials — such as lilies, coneflowers and daylilies — making it necessary to renovate the garden. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Annuals are taking over the cutting garden and hiding the perennials — such as lilies, coneflowers and daylilies — making it necessary to renovate the garden. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

For the past couple years I have wanted to renovate the cutting garden that sits next to the driveway. This garden was supposed to be a garden similar to what I remembered my mother’s garden looking like; filled with flowers that she would cut and bring in the house and put in a vase on the kitchen table, adding such a homey touch to her tiny kitchen. The problem is that I never cut any flowers to bring in the house because I am always working in the gardens. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them anyway.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Many of the flowers in this small garden were flowers that my mother grew: daisies, bachelor buttons, tulips, gaillardia, baby’s breath and many more colorful cottage garden favorites. It wasn’t long and I added kiss-me-over the garden gate to add height to the garden, and the butterflies and bees love them. One of the re-seeding flowers that I love is tickseed coreopsis, and it seems to like this garden and the driveway garden. It self-seeds very well. The bachelor buttons also re-seed along with the cosmos I planted shortly after this garden was started. Over the years the cosmos and kiss-me-over the garden gate kind of stole the show growing very tall and covering the smaller flowers. Every year sunflowers also pop up that come from the birdfeeder located next to this garden.

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When a flower self-seeds in my gardens I usually just leave them where they appear, but as I have added perennials to this garden sometimes you cannot see the perennials. Lilies have been planted for the past couple of years, and they are totally obscured from view by these annuals. Even the butterfly weed is hidden by the larkspur that grows so randomly in the garden. This being said, I love all of these beauties, but it is time to add on to this garden and separate the annuals from the perennials and bulbs.

This garden renovation was going to take place last fall until a skunk sprayed the pile of bricks behind the garden shed. Even though I can still smell the skunk scent on the bricks, I think if I wear gloves when I move the bricks I should be alright. The garden will expand to the east of the present cutting garden and go all the way to the pole with the birdfeeder.

Now that I am getting older, I try to use the easiest methods of gardening. When I make a new garden, I no longer till up the soil. I outline the garden with bricks, rocks or timbers and then lay down newspapers or cardboard on top on the grass to kill it. I recommend using a minimum of six layers of newsprint. Then I wet it down and cover with both soil and compost if the soil needs amending or just pine bark mulch. This needs to be done as soon as the snow has melted in order to give the newsprint time to kill the grass and weeds. Then when it is the end of May when I start planting I just dig a hole for the plant and pop it in. If I am planting annual seeds I move back the mulch where the new soil is and make a small trench the depth of the required amount listed on the seed packets and plant them. Once the plants are above ground and about six inches tall I will move the bark back into place.  This method has worked very well for me in the past.

When the annuals are planted in this new garden, I will finally be able to see all of the lovely perennials that will be in their own part of the garden. Any self-seeding annuals that come up in this part of the garden where the perennials are will be pulled up and planted in other gardens or given away. Of course we will see how that works outs in reality for me because Mother Nature may have other plans for these little eager seeders.

“All through the long winter, I dream of my garden.  On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth, I can feel its energy and my spirits soar.”  — Helen Hayes


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at carolhegellang@gmail.com.