Monday, April 30, 2007

Tulips and Tibbs

This has been a terrible spring for my garden. First of all, I’ve spent very little time in it. I gave Vanities, my final show of the season, every bit of my free time. Then, we had that nasty cold spell in early April. I watched in horror as my magnolia buds were reduced to mush. Finally, my baby, and beloved gardening companion, Mr. Tibbs passed away. The only time I braved the terrible weather this spring was to bury him in the Heart Bed. I haven’t wanted to go back out since.

If it weren’t for the tulips, I don’t know if I could have revived my gardening spirits. They haven’t minded my inattention or the cold. Despite my heartache, they’ve been bravely, gaily blooming. The colorful cups have been silkily bouncing in the breeze, calling me back to the garden. I am thankful for that.

I made plans to plant the tulips last April. At that time, following the initial blooms of the crocus, hyacinth, and daffodils, I found myself faced with a flowerless garden as I awaited the June flush. I vowed then to plant more tulips, along with moss phlox and candytuft. I’m so glad I did.

The “Apple Blossom” mix from Home Depot is pictured here. The blooms were supposed to be in shades of pink and white, but, someone got their bulbs mixed up. I still like the effect. In the rose bed, I planted all red tulips within view the dining room window (perfect for a shot of color on dreary days). I also experimented with species tulips around the pond, green tulips in the SE border, and “fire” tulips in the heart bed. Finally, I buried Mr. Tibbs with a bouquet of pink tulips.

The flowers will forever be bittersweet to me; they represent both death and life. I miss Mr. Tibbs terribly and there isn’t a spot in the garden without a memory of him. I am ready, though, to begin put the loss behind me and celebrate the beauty of growing, living things. Thank goodness for the tulips.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Not a Potty-ger

I love my kitties, but they do tend to use my garden as a litter box. Keeping them inside is not an option; we enjoy our time together outside too much. They also do a fantastic job of rooting out moles. I’ve learned to endure them occasionally powdering their noses in the flower gardens, but absolutely no pottying can be tolerated in the potager. After I prepared the soil for my veggies in mid-March, I found signs that my cats had found the fluffy dirt irresistible. I needed to cat-proof my potager.

I’ve read a number of good suggestions for cat-proofing gardens on GardenWeb. Although sticking prickly rose cuttings in the dirt like little booby traps seems mean, I have to admire that gardener’s resourcefulness. The most humane, easy, and cost efficient method I read was to cover the soil with wooden lattice. The lattice acts as a mulch, planting guide, and kitty deterrent. I didn’t have any lattice, but our house did come with a big roll of rubber-covered wire fencing. I think it is actually superior to wooden lattice because it leaves the earth exposed to rain.

After buying some heavy-duty wire cutters, I cut the fencing into lengths that would just cover the planting areas on either side of the lavender. I pegged the fence down with U-shaped wire stakes made from coat hangers. (We have tons of coat hangers thanks to Mike’s dry cleaning.) The project didn’t take more than 45 minutes and, ta-da, my potager is a litter box no more! (And those little squares really DO make a nice planting guide!)

It's been two weeks since I laid down the fencing and not only has the bed remained fertilizer-free, but my seedlings are emerging unscathed by scratching kitty paws.

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