The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Creation Garden Plans

The royal gardens in Hannover are a good model for the future gardens at the Ichabode.

We have had an uncommon amount of rain for July, lately coming in one-inch installments. As anyone can guess, the grass and clover are lush, thick, and growing fast. One Crepe Myrtle twig has bloomed with red-white picotee flowers. The little plant looks like tiny fireworks on the west side of the garden.

Buckwheat can be grown for its seed - and flour -
but many grow it to suppress weeds
and to support pollinating insects.

I expected Buckwheat to be knee-high when flowering. Insead, some of the many plants are chest-high. I had to look hard for one Mr. Lincoln that was surrounded by Buckwheat - definitely a What-Have-I-Done? moment.

Before the tongue-clucking begins, consider this. Thousands of roots have wired themselves into the local fungus network and will produce an astonishing amount of organic matter for next year's garden.

 In my dreams. Last year our helper laughed
at me every time he saw our tiny Elephant Ears.

I will cut back some Buckwheat, but not on one particular patch of new garden. I finished covering that area with cardboard and mulch in the spring. As expected, the grass decomposed underneath and the red wiggler earthworms frolicked. Unexpectedly, the failed Elephant Ears  - from last summer - punched through the cardboard and mulch to grow quickly in the rains. Disappointed in the royal price and miserly growth of the tender bulbs, I left both of them to die in the wintry soil. But we had a mild winter and determined bulbs. So the Buckwheat is growing around the Elephant Ears as they shoot upwards.

We often think of weeds choking and ruining crops. That might lead people to think that the Buckwheat is overdone and possibly overwhelming for the other plants, even roses. That depends on the growth habit of the main plants, whether they rise above the cover crop or not.

Vines are more likely to overwhelm and smother a plant. The real problem is a garden with no maintenance or one with fanatical tilling, stirring, and spraying.

 Every tree stump is food for good fungus and bugs,
a perch for birds and squirrels, a shelter microbes and toads.
I put our holey-ist stump near the faucet,
to keep it moist and rotting.



Rain Infiltration
Doubtless the Buckwheat has improved the value of the mulch, but promoting infiltration of the rain, during heavy and light rains. The fear many have is that mulch will absorb the light rains. A heavy rain can float the mulch downhill, though my mulch does not float. I have dug beneath mulch to find the soil quite dry during drought periods.

Our garden is even more spongy than the lawns of my neighbors - yes, I check. The rose garden resembles an enormous foam rubber mattress beneath.

God's plan is obvious. Soil is only bare when man rakes all the loose leaves and grass away. Additional hoing and micro-tilling can open up even more bare soil. When the sun shines on bare soil, the microbes die from the 150 degree heat.

But God uses the wind and animal droppings to replant bare soil. Birds plant their favorite foods. So do squirrels and blue jays. Some gardeners say - "String a wire to get birds to roost and plant bird food." Tree stumps will do the same without garroting garden guests as they stroll through the lanes.

Hostas enjoy morning sun and appreciate afternoon shade,
just like roses. Why not grow them among the roses as a cover crop and hummingbird feeder?


Taking Hostas from the Shadows
I am looking at ways to blend the roses with other plants that show off the rose blooms. Hostas may work well because the plant slowly spreads through its roots. The accepted place for Hosta is in the shade, but they have preferences similar to roses - morning sun, afternoon shade. Sometimes teeny inexpensive Hostas are available for fall planting, a good time to establish the roots.

Hundreds of Mouse Ears are heading for the Wild Garden. Commelina communis - is the scientific name. 
Asiatic Dayflower is another name.
Mrs. 29A said, "Those are not violets. I don't know what they are, but they are definitely not violets." I picked one flower and took it to the computer. I began matching its characteristics to photos in Google Images.

"There it is - Mouse Ears. Eureka. I have found it." Some consider the plant a spreading, weedy pest, but I have seen it occupy the same place along the fence for five years. Now a column is marching into the Wild Garden, which was mostly autumn leaf mulch. Something was going to spread there, so a low-growing herbal plant that supports beneficial insects is not all bad. Tune in later for a What Have I Done? post.

Half the fun of gardening is identification of new plants, often called weeds, but definitely worth studying.

Creation Gardening is a lot less work, much cheaper, and more fun than buying equipment and chemicals to do a bad job when God works so well on His own.

 The rainfall means the Crepe Myrtle is going to seed fast
and will need an early pruning for more blooms.
The white flowers are Buckwheat, but they are much higher
than a week ago.