13 April 2009

garden progress: monday

Up early this morning to greet a glorious day. A little coffee, a little cereal, a quick shower, and then outside to the garden. Cut back the butterfly bush (which was enormous by the end of last summer) hoping that it hasn’t been killed by the cold this past winter. Technically, it’s a zone 5 plant, and we’re zone 4/5, but I sited it on the south side of the house near the foundation, so perhaps it will have made it through the winter. We shall see.

Then I coppiced the smokebush à la Wave Hill. This is the first year I’ve done this, because I wanted the plant to settle in and get some mass before I attempted cutting it way back. If all goes as planned, we’ll have a nice vertical accent in the garden: lots of sucker-like branches with those beautiful smokebush leaves. I’m not so much interested in the flowers, but I do love the leaves.

In my cutting down and cleaning up the flower garden, I came across an interesting little tag for Easter egg radishes. Hmmm, that can’t be, I thought. Radishes in the perennials? Did you ever? Then I remembered that last fall I had grabbed any tag I could find to mark the spot where the baptisia, a late sprouter, emerges; I didn’t want to disturb its slumber by digging it up inadvertently come spring. However, it seems to be sprouting right now, when everything else is, too. Hmmm. Those sprouts do look kind of Easter-eggish, come to think of it . . . well, if an Easter egg were sharp-pointed at one end and sticking out of the ground like a baptisia sprout.

I made it through about half the perennial bed before I answered the siren call of my Miller Nurseries order. I puzzled over where to plant the blueberries for about an hour before deciding to extend the daylily bed next to the driveway about 9 feet and then plant a double row of blueberries (3 new and 3 moved from another location). Because marking off and digging any kind of bed is necessarily time-consuming, my work in the perennial garden came to a standstill for the rest of the day. But the blueberries are planted, they look happy, and now they’ll get lots and lots of sun, so maybe we’ll get lots and lots of blueberries.

For lunch B took some sliced green tomatoes from the freezer and fried them up for us. His advice: If you plan on freezing green tomatoes, slice them thinner than you think you need to, freeze them on cookie sheets, and then bag them and put them back in the freezer. He let them thaw enough so that seasoned flour would stick to them and then fried them in a little oil. Delicious.

After lunch B and I discussed where to locate the apple and cherry trees, and we decided they would be wonderful near a glen that B would like to set up as a sort of meditation garden. So I dug two $40 holes for our $12 trees, and in they went, with beautiful compost mixed with the topsoil at the bottom of the hole and a nice little “dish” on top to hold water. A few days ago, James over at View from Federal Twist asked me how I will keep deer from rutting the trees, and now I’m wondering myself how I will prevent deer from nibbling on the tender branches, so I may be considering some temporary fencing around the trees for the next little while.

For the record, I can’t believe that we have a cherry tree that is allegedly hardy to zone 4. There will be great rejoicing when the bright day comes that we pick sweet cherries from our own tree on Pleasant Hill.

So that was Monday! Tuesday will be more of the same. I want to relocate a forsythia and a sambucus, plant a spirea, and clean up the rest of the perennial garden.

And now to bed.


  1. Hi Jared;

    This deer thing is getting to be a problem everywhere. Take a look at what I have written:


    I walked the perimeter of our nursery today and no signs of deer coming through the fence even though it is sagging in a lot of places from the frost heaving the posts around this year.

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener
    Vermont Flower Farm--just revised

  2. Thanks, George. Your article is fantastic reading and a wealth of really useful information.

    We've been pretty lucky with deer so far. They're around, but they don't seem to do any damage to our plants until late summer when we notice hosta leaves nipped off (forunately not the whole plant ever). I'm hoping where I've planted the apple and cherry tree are not on deer thoroughfares, but I have a feeling they hang out more often in the old orchard than anywhere else nearby. If I notice anything untoward going on, I'm stringing monofilament (what a great idea).

    Glad to hear your fence made it through the winter, and I hope you can tighten it up soon!


  3. Now that sounds like a great day! I just discovered leaves on my butterfly bush in the last couple of days, I was worried it had died.
    Sounds like you'll have lots of fruit in the next few years. I love blueberries from the garden, they are the best!
    Good tip on the tomatoes, I've never tried that and now I think I will this summer.

  4. Hey, Catherine! Thanks for the visit and comment! I planted some blueberries a few years back, but put them in a partly sunny spot, so we have not had the mountains of berries I would LIKE. On Monday I moved them to a spot that gets sun all day long and added three more to the mix, so I am hopeful!

    I'm also hopeful my butterfly bush made it through. I've heard that the darker-colored flowering ones are not as hardy as the lighter-colored ones. Have you ever heard of that? We shall see!