Kachemak Gardener: Whew! Finally an established garden

We have been graced with the most excellent combination of warmth and rain. Absolutely every plant in this garden is deeply appreciative.

This is an established garden. I am so grateful to able to say that. It has been years in the making and I am being rewarded with plants that are obviously happy to be here. What a relief.

I thought this would take about four to five years and we have now hit 20. Whew. What a learning curve.

Let’s not even talk about design. We put in the beds before the grass was planted and for that I am still grateful. But the beds could all be bigger, deeper. Granted there needs to be room for “grands” and a civilized dog, and we have that. And the East Garden is filling in so the mowing is shrinking; that’s a good thing. But the lilacs are so crammed in and the mock orange is so huge that they are meeting, and walking between them is becoming problematic. I fear John will take the loppers and do some ad hoc trimming. Perish the thought, although I see no other way through this. I’m just trying to stave off the inevitable.

In the meantime, the two Donald Wymans, one James McFarland and the common in the west corner, are all in bloom. Lovely. The Miss Kim will be having a light bloom this season. She tends to take off a season every couple of years and the dwarf Koreans (one in a perennial bed and three in the West Garden) are loaded with potential.

Truly, the garden is exploding. The roses (Hansa, Theresa Bugnet) are heavy with buds. Heidi on the street side of the house is covered. It has been a couple of years since this lovely really put on a show and I am truly looking forward to what she has to offer: little clusters of pale pink with a touch of yellow and citrusy scent. You wouldn’t think roses would do much of anything in that site, but this one seems to be happy as can be. I regret that it can’t be seen from the street. She is hiding behind five huge spruce. I thought that she would eventually die out due to lack of enough sun, but no, she bravely carries on.

Again, on the north side (the street) of the house is the one and only window box. We all need something to greet us as we come home (besides a dog) and that window box fills the bill. Every year I set three tuber begonias in pots into the box, fill in with potting soil, then plant up with pansies, lobelia and bacopa. Every year. Take a look at your begonias, pinch out the male blooms ( the single ones versus the doubles; they are of no use and detract from the over all affect). You would think I would get tired of this stalwart combination, but no, I love it. It is faithfully watered, and therein lies the rub — it needs water. But so do the bleeding hearts that hug the wall below it, so that chore gets done even in the rain. Think about where you put what. Not under the eaves.

There are enough volunteer seedlings in the perennial beds that I really didn’t need to plant any more. But you never know if they really will return, so I hedge my bets and plant more. Too many. Always too many. So the thinning has begun. The Lauren’s Grape poppy, lovely that it is, would take over the world if allowed. Gorgeous albeit bossy poppy.

The campanula persicifolia (peach leaved bellflower, mine is white, there used to be blue ones out there but not any more) is spreading a little too much. I’ll see how things are looking as the season progresses and make a decision as to whether or not some of them need to go. I really like the white breaking up all of the pinks, blues, purples, but would also appreciate a little pale yellow. I try to have some little yellow poppies but they are not dependable. For the yellow I’m trying the annual chrysanthemum “Primrose Gem.” I’m hoping the white and pale yellow will calm the mayhem.

Which leads me to annuals. These are what will prolong the bloom time of your garden. When the perennials have had enough, the annuals will be marching on right into the teeth of the first frost. Beef up your garden with annuals. I particularly like California poppies in soft colors, baby blue eyes, blue woodruff, godetia, always pansies. Tuck these here and there and all will be well.

The vegetable garden is quite enthusiastic. The second planting of spinach is ready for the freezer and my neighbor Karen, told me just this morning about blanching spinach in the microwave. I can hardly wait to try this.

Jane was over the other day and gently suggested that I thin the beets. Now, I know that this needs to be done, but I don’t always do it. So there’s Jane thinning away and eating every little plant she pulls. I have such excellent friends. Jane thins the beets and Lynne thins the apple clusters. Molly brought me little astrantias last year that are thriving this year. I’m new to these plants and I think I will love them forever. Anything that doesn’t need staking.

I’ll end on an odd note: the slugs are legion this year and earlier than ever before. There are so many so soon and there will only be more to come. I’m all about Sluggo. Lightly apply it to the path, not in the bed that you want to protect; you want to draw them away from the plants. Good luck.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener and has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.