Cranes have flown, but keep gardening

It’s been so long since we had a blue sky. What a relief. I’m waterlogged and a tad grumpy and faced with way too much chard. While I was musing on this state of affairs the cranes made their collective decision to leave. And what an exit! I’m fortunate to garden because I am usually outside when the migration is in full swing. Today I got to share the experience with my book club. Excellent company to view a natural phenomena. What a day!

But the cranes’ departure signals the beginning of the end. I need to hop to it and get a few things accomplished around here. The William Baffin rose that is trained to a trellis with the hopes of climbing into John’s moose rack has finally made it. For some reason I find humor in that rose entwined in the rack. This rose should max out at 12 feet and I’m hoping that it will surpass that expectation to make a real impact on the rack. I want roses dripping from it. Next year. For now I tied it up a little more securely in anticipation of caging it to prevent moose damage.

Anything that is planted on the north side of the house is fair game for foraging moose. This area is outside the fence and the decision was made early on that anything unfenced would be on its own. But then I NEEDED the rose to meet the rack. After a few winters of it being chewed to a nub I succumbed and caged it. This has worked so far. Here comes another winter and we’ll see.

There are bulbs to be had everywhere. Now is the time to make your move. My personal preference are the minor bulbs. This group tops out at about eight inches and the variety to choose from is broad. And there is something so very charming about them. They bloom early, last just long enough, and their spent foliage is easy to hide. Whereas the tulips and regular daffodils can present a challenge once their foliage is spent.

As with everything else in this garden there is no plan. Cottage garden is the operative term here. I have tried to avoid it, sounds so English, but that’s the truth of it. I like to think of it as a Homer Garden. The plants like it here, don’t ask much of me, and bring smiles to many faces throughout the growing season. And the minor bulbs kick off the season. But they are just here and there, like everything else. So when I add new varieties I may find myself digging into an established bed of say, crocus, or Jack Snipe daffodils, or scilla, or, or, or, or. I just move my trowel over until I find a spot with nothing already there. Works.

I almost developed the area under and around the red twig dogwoods. How lovely would that be? I had a vision. And then I took a different tack. Do I really want more garden? Aren’t I trying to simplify? Yes, I am. No I won’t develop any more beds. I won’t even enlarge the ones I have (another thought that I sat down until it went away). BUT I did take seed heads from the bulbs and scattered them under the shrubs. Willy-nilly. If this works I’ll do more next year. I can hardly wait to see what happens come spring. In theory the bulbs will bloom and be finished by the time the shrubs leaf out. Think about this.

Shirley stopped by with a generous clump of yellow iris and the proclamation that they would look lovely interplanted with the iris setosa, marsh marigold, and yellow day lilies that form a hedge in the East Garden. Keep in mind that these take work to dig up. They have a rhizome (not a bulb, or fibrous root) that is tough. I used a saw on the clump and divided it into four parts. It seems extreme but that’s what I do with anything that is going to give me an argument about being divided. That bed is seriously wet so I didn’t even need to water them in. Just dug a good enough hole and popped them in.

This is NOT my favorite time of year to transplant. I like to see how plants have made it through a winter in the Far North before I mess around with them so that means spring. If you really need to move something now, get after it so it has time to settle in some roots before the weather turns unforgiving.

The greenhouse is closed down for the season. We had a wealth of produce come out of there yet again this year. Now is the time to wash down the walls, fill the bins with fresh compost and have it all ready for the coming season. Getting an early start is, to me, the whole point of a greenhouse. And, if you are thinking of getting one, do it now. Just remember that they are a considerable amount of work.

There are artichokes, kale, chard, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkins still in the garden. And they all look happy. It may be the tail end of the growing season but the weeds are still calling me and I’m still answering.

Keep gardening.

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