From Mélie’s Garden
One of the happiest days of the year for me is the day I move most of my houseplants outside! It is so nice to be able to give them a big shower with the hose. If insects are present, I also give the plants a good spray of insecticidal soap, but usually the hose is sufficient to wash away any pests and the insects outdoors do the rest of job. This year was particularly exciting because my lemon tree, that I had grown from a seed collected from a lemon in Ravello, Italy ten years ago, bloomed!!!! I have no idea if it will be pollinated to create lemons, but the sight and smell of the blossoms brought me great joy.
My next spring project was cleaning up the flowerbeds and I discovered that our hydrangeas had many buds on them that looked burned. I think this was because it was very warm at the end of April and the buds started to swell earlier than normal. It then got unusually cold in May and the tender new growth got damaged. The plants now seem to be putting out new growth from the bottom, but their bloom may be delayed this year. I sprinkled Hollytone around the base of each hydrangea to give it a bit of a boost.
Two invasive vines, Bindweed (wild morning glory) and Black Swallowwort have started to emerge again much to my sorrow. I have tried to dig the vines out of the flowerbeds, but both plants have long deep roots that break easily, so it is a very frustrating job. There is a new garden tool in A.M. Leonard’s Gardeners Edge catalog called Jerry’s Weed Stick. It is a new pesticide applicator. The pesticide goes into the stick and at the end of it there is a cup that covers the plant you want to spray, which will protect the surrounding plants. This new product may be a good solution if the vines appear again.
This past winter I stored my dahlia tubers in shredded newspaper in Styrofoam coolers and put them in an upstairs bathtub. We keep that particular bathroom temperature about 50 degrees, so the pipes don’t freeze. This temperature seemed to agree with the tubers and only a few shriveled and dried out during the storage. I usually put new tubers from Swan Island Dahlias in pots after they arrive and transplant them into the garden once shoots start to appear. This year, I just planted the wintered over tubers directly into the vegetable garden and I am eagerly waiting to see if they sprout. When they do, I will put plastic water bottles with the top and bottoms cut off, around the new shoots to protect them from slugs and cutworms. The cylinders will be removed once the shoots are about 5 inches tall.
There are so many plants in my garden that I love to see bloom again each year. I have tree peonies and bearded iris that I brought from my garden in Bedford, NY eighteen years ago which are now blooming along with three small ‘Miss Kim lilac trees and a white tree wisteria, we planted later. Each spring it is like welcoming back old friends and makes all the hard garden labor throughout the year very worthwhile.