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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Garden surprises, Garden regrets

I have been a grumpy gardener lately.  Partly because I have had this pile of mulched leaves sitting across the street thumbing its nose at me.  You see, I have really heavy soil and my neighbors have silver maple trees which shed a lot of leaves.  They have a yard service which mows the leaves up, chopping them, and then they drop it out on the street curb to wait for the township to come and vacuum them up and take them away.

When they mow, they get little pieces of grass in it, and this combination of finely chopped leaves, with some green grass makes perfect compost.  This perfect compost, when dug into my heavy clay soil, lightens the soil as well as provides me with mulch to keep down weeds.  In previous years, when I didn't have trouble with my hip or was in chemotherapy, I would take my trusty lawn tractor with my wagon and scoop it all up...dumping it on my vegetable garden.   This year, I've had to sit and look at it and snarl....my desire is great, but my pain is greater.

My garden always has a few surprises.  This one is pretty amusing.  I took this shot just the other day.  We've had some substantial freezes, more than just a killing frost.  However, this petunia plant has managed to survive.  Look on the bottom right.  See that thing which looks like a shard of glass? It's a piece of ice I dumped out of a bucket.
This is my little patch of black mondo grass (Ohiopogon planiscapus...which I usually just call Ohiopogon (O-hi-op-o-gone).  My neighbors, both pretty good gardeners, always comment on how good mine look (when it has been weeded) and how it mystifies them that mine is able to survive.  You see, it is hardy only to zone 6a, and for the most part, I'm on the very edge, more like 5b. However, I hold a secret.  The secret is in microclimates.





Near the black mondo grass and the petunia (which is across from the mondo grass) is my fish pond.  You see it stripped for the winter here.  While not terribly large, it is pretty deep and holds I think about 2,000 gallons.  Water, particularly running water, maintains heat.  The stones around the pond also retain heat.  The direction here is south.

In addition to the pond and the retaining wall, you can see the concrete paver walkway...which also absorbs and retains the southern sun's heat.
And finally, the  6' high fence keeps the drying and cold western winds slightly at bay.  To the right of all of this is the house, which also retains heat.

Part of the trick to gardening is knowing what zone you're in and knowing what parts of your garden has little micro-climates which are warmer, or colder than the surrounding area. This knowledge allows you to grow things which others can't....and it makes you look like a green thumbed wizard when in reality you're just observant.

3 comments:

Del said...

Lisa - Thanks for the little garden lesson, although I doubt I will ever go back to gardening again. The years are creeping up on me.
I hope you have had a lovely Thanksgiving Day. Corky and I have been absolute slugs, but it has been nice to have him here, snoring away.

Shady Character said...

I think I barely looked at my perennial garden this year. The veggies got all the attention.

Michigoose said...

That's OK Shady....I planted a vegetable garden and now it is buried in 6' tall skeletons of lambsquarters, rag weed, Canada thistle....and I never did eat any of the chard, or the Italian parsley! So...we're even. ;)

Del...the body isn't doing as I command either. I walk through my garden and contemplate what I should get rid of to make it easier to maintain.