Pull, Plant, Move, Weed, Shear, Lop…it’s May

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SO TODAY I’M OUT IN THE GARDEN, following a nice morning rain, yanking out white-flowering, foot-tall garlic mustard before it seeds, and I uncover this fellow, above, with the pretty yellow markings. I’m not much for wildlife photography — deer and wild turkeys tend to move off by the time I get my camera focused — but in this case, I was able to run all the way into the house for the camera and find him right where I left him.

The warm weather has brought out tons of weeds, most of whose names I don’t know. Wisteria, bane of last year, is in evidence, but much reduced. There’s going to be some intensive hand-labor around here in the weed department.

If anybody can identify the weedy groundcover, below, please tell me. And how to get rid of it.

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Last night, I made a list of garden chores for the week:

  • Pull garlic mustard.
  • Plant grasses from Steph (my friend brought over three hefty miscanthus clumps, which went in today).
  • Plant four nandina ‘Gulfstream’ (heavenly bamboo) and two ilex glabra (a type of holly) from Costco; they were $13 each and very healthy-looking. Which I did – but before doing it, I had to move 5 rhamnus frangula (alder buckthorn) bought last year from White Flower Farm at great expense and still only a few inches tall. Bah. They’re not going to serve as screening between myself and my next-door neighbors, so I put them in a sunny spot in the far reaches of the backyard, where I can forget about them instead of being aggravated every time I open the front door and see how pitifully small they are.
  • Plant remaining things from upstate — threadleaf coreopsis, 1 kerria japonica, 1 viburnum. All done this afternoon. Check!

But the list went on, with things un-done.

  • Move chelone (turtlehead) and Japanese silver ferns up front.
  • Pull crabgrass and other weeds from “lawn” area.
  • Shear grass in “lawn” area. I use the term advisedly — it’s increasingly more weeds and less turfgrass. Notice I don’t say “mow.” I don’t have a mower.
  • Cut down browning, unattractive juniper.
  • Lop Rose of Sharon scattered about the property (that which I didn’t get around to earlier in the season).
  • Pick up branches and winter storm damage throughout.
  • Plant more flowering trees.
  • Get a handle on nameless invasive weedy groundcover.
  • Collect more rocks for path edging.
  • Mulch.

Suddenly I sat up in bed with my list and scribbled one last item:

  • “Call help?!?”

I’ve got a flyer here for “Spring Yard Clean-Up Specials.” That’s what I need: a spring clean-up special.

My garden labors today were eased by the example of a woman my friend Caren and I met last night on our evening constitutional down to Maidstone Beach. We were admiring the plantings in front of a tidy cottage — they reminded me of my own baby beds, with many of the same things I’ve planted, edged with similar rocks — when a woman came forth with a watering can. We complimented her handiwork and got a tour. She’s fully exploited everything deer-proof — irises, peonies, weigela, ferns, grasses, and on and on; set things on pedestals made of found stone; positioned everything in the right place so all is thriving and green; made the yard welcoming to birds with a bird bath and feeders.

Her name is Lois, and she must be well into her 70’s. Lois has something I don’t have, but am trying to cultivate: patience. She’s planted a wisp of red barberry here, a tiny fern there, and she’s clearly OK with waiting for it all to happen in its own good time. Whereas I want the lush, billowing effect immediately, if not sooner. Here’s Lois, not worrying that the garden better happen quickly because she may not have that much time left to enjoy it, but enjoying it as it is right now.

With Lois as inspiration, my four hours in the garden today were more relaxed than usual. I’m doing it. It’s happening. In its own time.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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5 Responses to Pull, Plant, Move, Weed, Shear, Lop…it’s May

  1. Terry says:

    Where do those turtles hide out I wonder. One day, they are just there. Tara, an Atlanta garden blogger has Tara Turf. So we have Terry Turf. From my green thumbed father who knew me only too well: “Just keep it mowed and it will look fine from the street.”

  2. Astor C says:

    Hah! The turtle’s the perfect metaphor for patience, thank you Aesop…

  3. cara says:

    This is the first turtle I’ve seen, here, Terry, though there’s one living in the backyard in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, believe it or not — a red-eared slider. Don’t know if it’s wild or an abandoned pet, but it survived the winter! So you’re saying the mix of turfgrass, ajuga, vinca, and weeds is Cara Turf?
    Astor, LOL. I didn’t realize how perfectly circular my post was!

  4. Mary-Liz says:

    That weed is aegepodium or gout weed which is an invasive & extremely hard to get rid of. You pull it up but the roots break off so it grows again. I have tried everything as I had a whole hillside of it. I put down landscape fabric & covered it with mulch, but it grew on top of the fabric. Finally after 12 years, I have managed to control it there (Preen, pulling, planting, mulching), but it still appears in random places in my garden. It grows in the perennials so you can’t get at it.
    I thought that turtle was some kind of prehistoric artifact. What cool markings!!

  5. cara says:

    Thanks, ML. I knew you would know. That has now risen to the top of my to-do list, because it’s spreading as we speak…

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