Weeds, pruning, plant bargains, these are some midsummer delights
These midsummer days are wonderful in the garden. Most of the heavy work of preparing soil and planting is finished, and it is possible to snatch a little time for lawn chairs and lemonade between marathon weeding sessions.
Of course, weeds, like any plants, have their predictable sequence. We started as soon as the snow cleared with the ubiquitous wild onion popping up everywhere. Soon after that, the milky spurge appeared, followed by the first dandelions, cinquefoil, thistles, creeping Charlie, clover and, now, an absolute plague of spotted spurge and purslane.
In my garden, I am constantly pulling out seedlings of Rose of Sharon and a nearby redbud, but at least they grow straight up and are easy to pull, unlike the creeping kind of weed that needs a knife to dig out the whole thing.
After a late start, shrubs seem to be better than ever this year.
My Miss Kim lilac never has been so prolific, and the scent was wonderful. I just wish there had been more bees and butterflies around to enjoy it.
I took out the Russian sage by the front porch because its growing habit was so wild and shaggy, but I am letting some shoots that have appeared grow back. Anything to attract those so valuable bees to the garden.
I have seven climbing roses, whites, pinks, yellow and red, and all of them were dead from the ground up. I finally got them all cut back, and immediately they put out new growth from the roots, as did the five Knockouts.
In fact, most of them look better for the pruning.
My Lemon Meringue rose on the garage wall has some truly beautiful blossoms of a pale peachy-orange in with the yellow, and some flowers have both colors.
I don’t pretend to understand the details of grafting roses but is it possible my rose may have been grafted onto a root stock that is sending up shoots? It is lovely.
The day lilies seem to be blooming everywhere this summer, along with all the colorful annuals. My hanging baskets of petunias are looking rather lanky, so I have cut them back severely and am hoping for a show of new flowers.
I have started the annual lookout for Japanese beetles. Let’s hope the cold winter froze those grubs lurking in the ground. My ornamental cherry tree is usually the first port of call for the nasty things, then they hit the roses.
This year, I have two grape vines I planted last spring and which are growing thick and fast, and I know they are favorite beetle targets. I have my can of Sevin ready, just in case.
I don’t like using herbicides, but the Japanese beetles enjoy special treatment.
I moved my tub of blueberries in the spring, and it gets more sun now and is rewarding me for it. I picked the first ripe berries today, all 27 of them. They are going into the freezer as they ripen, and I think I will eventually have enough for a pie if I can keep the birds from stealing their share.
If you have a few empty spaces in the flower borders, there are some great annual bargains to be found. Get the plants out of their market packs as soon as possible, and loosen the matted roots, which probably will be circling the containers.
Plant them in the evening or on a cloudy day and give them plenty of water for a good start.
It is just like adopting a cat or dog from the animal shelter – a pleasure for you for a long time to come and a happy home for the homeless one.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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