I ALWAYS THOUGHT B&B stood for bed and breakfast. Now I know it means balled and burlapped.
Plants sold in plastic containers are a cinch to plant – you dig a hole and pop them in. Bigger trees and shrubs are B&B’d, like the two hefty mountain laurels I planted this afternoon. They’re heavy mothers.
Oh, my aching back.
Yesterday I went to Marder’s in Bridgehampton, an old-fashioned, full-service nursery where they really help you, to see what they had on sale. I was shopping on the principle that you should choose plants to suit your conditions, not frustrate yourself trying to grow what isn’t natural (and get 60% off if possible).
I went armed with a list of deer-resistant, shade-tolerant, acid-soil-loving shrubs to begin creating a ‘mixed hedge’ along the road (as opposed to the solid, all-one-kind, evergreen wall that is synonymous with the Hamptons). There’s an area about 20’x60′ along the road that is now cleared, thanks to my daughter Zoë, of most saplings and undergrowth (there’s still plenty of wisteria vine, pulled up out of the ground and coiled for later removal and ‘treatment’ — that is, poisoning [heh heh]
On my wish list was:
- kerria japonica
- mountain laurel
- American holly
Not the most exciting stuff, but better to have un-showy flowers, I figure, than no flowers at all, because they don’t get enough sun or the deer have eaten them.
Marder’s was out of most things on my list, but I ended up buying eight plants:
- 1 pee gee hydrangea
- 2 osmanthus (purple false holly)
- 3 sarcococca (sweet box)
- 2 mountain laurels
They were delivered this afternoon. I had the delivery guy set the mountain laurels — only about 3 feet high but the root ball makes them monstrously heavy — near where I wanted to plant them. Once they were out there, right by the road, I realized I needed to plant them right away or risk their being stolen. (Call me paranoid, but this happened in Brooklyn once with two brand-new Alberta spruce; they lasted about 20 minutes on the front stoop.)
I had decided not to spring for planting services like last week, when I had a doublefile viburnum planted by the nursery and felt like a princess. Having watched the technique, I wanted to give it a try and save the bucks (planting often costs as much as the plant). It would have been easier with another person, but my daughter had gone off to the Yankee game.
Each of the two shrubs took an hour to plant: digging the hole with two different shovels; wrestling the plant into the hole, then out again and digging deeper, then in again; cutting the rope and burlap away and pulling it out from underneath; re-filling the hole with dirt (by now I was on my knees and using my gloved hands to push the dirt back in; I’d had it with the shovel); making a moat around it to hold water, much like building a sand castle at the beach, but muddier; and finally watering by hand.
I know I should have made the holes twice as wide as the plant (there’s that garden guilt again), but 1-1/2 times was the best I could manage.