The Weekly Gardener 1

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May

Blushing Beauty

Sarah Bernhardt Peony

The long stretch of rain and the unseasonably cold weather slowed down the flowers and put the foliage in overdrive, and that includes the weeds. Good thing next week is going to be warm and sunny, the flower beds could do with a good once over before they get fertilizer.

The peonies have started blooming, but not as exuberantly as last year, and I blame that on the weather. The new plants, the ones I divided and moved early this spring did not produce flowers, as it was reasonable to expect, despite my gardening enthusiasm. I don't mind, as long as they save their energies to adjust to their new location.

Peonies are very long lived, their clumps can last for a hundred years or more, and once established they need very little care. A good organic fertilizer in spring, well draining soil and sunshine and they are good to go.

They are subject to powdery mildew, a problem that does not become apparent until the end of summer; the plants are no worse for the wear the following spring, but the foliage can be unsightly. I cut it down as soon as the signs of the problem appear, although the plant fares better with the leaves left intact, so, each year I have to weigh the pros and cons of trimming the afflicted greenery.

The clumps will grow big, so don't ignore the spacing requirements, the plants will be healthier if they get enough air movement around their stems.

Peonies don't need dividing, but don't mind it either. If you chose to divide a clump to expand your stock, do so in the fall, and make sure every root division has at least three eyes. Don't expect them to perform the first two years, during which they'll put all of their energy into developing a strong root system.

On a completely unrelated note, peonies do symbolize bashfulness, in case anybody was wondering.

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Simply Purple

Clematis Jackmanii

The clematis is covered in purple blooms, soon to be followed by the purple cranesbills, the purple betony, the purple lavender and the purple sage. I think I'm starting to discern a pattern here.

The sage's bloom was absolutely stunning last year, so much so that I even tried to pick the flowers for bouquets, but they don't last very long, so they are better left on the plant.

The lavender is covered in buds, the garden is slowly getting back into its rhythms, which tells me that it's probably time to go in search of annuals to cheer it up a little bit.

I keep looking for signs that the woodland perennials I planted this spring are coming to life, but so far there is nothing I can see above ground. They may surprise me next year, sometimes plants do. I kind of wish they do, I am curious what trillium looks like in a real setting.

The herb patch is thriving beyond my wildest dreams and will provide plentiful material for drying later in the summer.

Once I get to cleaning it, the garden is shaping up to be quite beautiful, but for now it's an unholy mess. You'd be amazed at how much debris gets left behind after even a run of the mill storm.