rainy days

The rain is coming down in sheets today. Again. I still remember the terrible drought from a couple years ago, so I'm not complaining. I am glad that I got some garden work done last week. Between rain showers I was able to spend some quality time pulling weeds, and I also did some transplanting. There were several goldmound spirea which were crowding into each other on a hillside bordering the woodland garden, and there were some wood ferns scattered about that I decided to cluster together. These were the easy transplants.

I also dug up a seven foot tall fothergilla. That job took longer, about an hour, but the ground was soft from recent rain and the root system was shallow, so it was not too difficult. I put the fothergilla in a sunnier part of the yard. This shrub didn't bloom much this year, probably because the trees nearby have grown up and are giving it too much shade.

I am never afraid to move a plant if it seems unhappy in its present location or if I think it will look better in another place. In Alabama, fall and winter are great times for transplanting. The air temperature is gentle, and the root systems have a chance to establish themselves before next summer's heat. I always transplant on a cool, cloudy day and water them well afterwards. I have moved some plants up to four times before finding their perfect homes.

So last week I moved three spireas, six ferns, and one large fothergilla. And it has rained ever since. And I am smiling, because I don't have to worry about watering them.Fothergilla has beautiful fall foliage.


weed war: part 2

I was out pulling weeds again today. This is not my favorite garden chore, but I don't mind it much. I usually pull a few weeds whenever I'm in the garden, even if I'm primarily outside to relax. Some of us are habitual weed pullers. My next door neighbor Betty is like this. She'll come up to my yard to chat, and as we stand talking about the weather or politics or the latest local happening, she will bend over and start pulling my weeds. Betty is a good neighbor.

Yanking weeds out by the roots is one good way to get rid of them. Spraying them with Round-up is another. Round-up kills anything it touches, but it is relatively ecologically friendly, because it doesn't travel in the soil or linger around to kill future plants. I'm careful with it and never spray on a breezy day. Our house once was surrounded by acres of poison oak, but thanks to Round-up that's not much of a problem now.

One of my favorite ways to kill weeds is to smother them. I have used this method throughout my garden. I like to put brown paper grocery sacks on top of the offending area, then cover the sacks with pine straw or other mulch. The area immediately looks a thousand times better. The sacks and mulch will break down to enrich the soil, and it's easy to make holes for planting.

Lately many grocery stores prefer to use plastic sacks instead of brown bags. I hate those little plastic sacks. But, If brown paper sacks aren't available, newspaper can be used instead.

This summer photo of the front garden shows how nice the paper sack/pine straw technique looks.