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GARDEN THERAPY. It works like nothing else. Fall is prime time for planting — cool weather, no chiggers — and I am at it again, doing my bit to beautify my little corner of the planet.
I check periodically on the house I’m in the process of buying, above, to make sure it’s still there. While I wait for it to become mine, my landscaping-on-a-budget efforts at my present cottage continue.
On Saturday I visited my friend Debre in Shelter Island and watched her dig up enormous clumps of a tenacious, fast-spreading broadleaf sedge she calls ‘tribbles,’ after the small rodents that multiplied like crazy in an old episode of Star Trek. She burned all the calories, while I stood there and gave her an occasional tool, bucket, or encouraging word. My job came later, when I further divided the huge clumps into about 50 smaller ones, and put them in at the foot of my back deck, above and below.
It was two afternoons of work, and well worth it. Since I haven’t fenced, I’m finally getting real about deer-resistant gardening. My focus now is exclusively on things they can’t or won’t eat, including ornamental grasses like tribble (so much easier to say than Carex siderosticha ‘Variegata,’ its real name).
That includes cimicifuga, above, whose very late-season blooms are most welcome.
And three new crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia ‘Acoma’), bought on sale at Lynch’s, a nursery in Southampton I visited for the first time recently and certainly not the last. It had several things I’d failed to find elsewhere, including spicebush (Lindera benzoin), below, which Rick Darke’s The American Woodland Garden calls “unpalatable to deer” and “routinely passed by.” Doesn’t look like much now, but I have hopes it will eventually look like the specimen in the book, six to ten feet tall and equally wide.
Then there’s the foot-tall Sunjoy Gold Beret, below, otherwise known as Berberis thunbergii ‘Talago,’ a $12 Home Depot special. This is a new offering from a grower called Proven Winners, clearly bred to wow all comers with its fall color.
That’s what I’ve been up to these spectacular October days, along with cable news-watching, Scramble-playing, and walking down to the bay. Not at all a bad life.