Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Perennial Tulip

Gardeners are advised to treat tulips as annuals. Despite their association with the soggy Netherlands, tulips are native to the dry, mountainous regions of central Asia. They need cold winters, wet springs, and dry summers to perform well year after year. Most gardeners can’t (or won’t) provide these conditions, so the plants decline after a year or so. Tulip breeders offer varieties they claim are perennial, but are they really? (And, wouldn’t it be counter to the tulip breeder’s interests to produce a tulip that perennializes in the garden setting?)

I’ve either got one of those new-fangled perennial tulips or special conditions in my garage bed because these tulips are going strong on their third year! They’ve received no extra care. I haven’t fertilized them. They got pretty wet this summer as I irrigated the nearby tomato bushes. You want to know what type of tulip they are, right?

I wish I knew! They came free with some bulb order. Ah, the irony, to have a tulip that appears to perennialize and not know how to get more.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Anchoring the 35 Dollar Arch

My $35 arch kept falling over. It has no spikes or extra long legs to anchor it to the ground. I know from my experience with the cedar arbor that using plants to anchor structures can be disastrous. I ended up staking the arch to the ground with 100 lb wire and bright yellow stakes.

(The cat is only for scale, I promise)

I stood in the aisle of Home Depot for a good 30 minutes, debating the type of wire to use. I liked the look of wire rope and cable, but they didn’t seem like they could be tied off and Mike and I were stumped by the fasteners. I ended up using 100 lb picture wire because the back of the package had a diagram detailing how to twist and hook the wire to “tie” the end. As a bonus, the wire is almost invisible and sure to trip anyone that doesn’t use the approved entrance into the North Corner.

To further enhance the trip hazard, I wanted the wire tight enough to sing when plucked. First, I fastened the wire to the stake, then Mike pushed the stake almost all the way into the ground and I fastened the wire to the arbor. Finally, Mike stood on the stake to sink it as far as it would go, thus taking any slack out of the wire.

The arbor hasn’t blown over again, but I’m still waiting for my first tripping victim.