Floral notes: Things I did and learned this summer [so far]

Community Columnist

Do you waste time and money on fertilizing perennials? Make better soil by keeping good quality mulch replenished as it decomposes or gets mixed in when planting so the air and water that is available to the plants roots allow the nutrients in the soil to be absorbed. I do use Osmocote, a pelleted, slow-release fertilizer in each annual’s hole and potted plants and clematis, hydrangea and delphinium all get a scoop, too.

A rock wall that plagued me with weeds that the mower couldn’t reach was instantly tamed after getting an idea from the Skaneateles Garden Tour last week. One garden used a strip of gravel 12-inches-wide as a mowing strip, but that seemed like something the mower would make a mess of, so I went to my new job at Affections, the flower shop in the old Key Bank building and grabbed all the empty flower boxes that Charmaine Tolle, the owner, had from the most recent wedding, opened them flat and laid mulch three inches on top. Instant fix and gratification.

Plus, we have more boxes every week, so I can clean up all of my most weed prone areas in a snap.

Last year an ornamental grass that was going rogue by taking up too much real estate and too much time to cut down each year had to go. Three rounds of mowing, raking, then spraying with Round Up, my usual kill method and it bounced back for more. Finally, a giant piece of black plastic [I wasn’t working yet] and a pile of mulch were set on top and a year of waiting gave me peace and I have that space back for new pursuits.

Any area can be treated that way, in three months poke through the cardboard and plant.

The best surprise came during lunch, when one visitor ordered a pot of clematis from my garden and when asking his name, I found out he was Chuck Amos, the man who 27 years ago, made it possible for us to buy the property we named “Hidden Pond.” From the hayfield it was, with the pond’s dam broken and hidden in a thicket of honeysuckle and grapevine up in the grove of oak trees planted by Chester King the year I was born, much learning and trying and doing has gone by. I asked him how we did and he said, “good!”

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