Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week 7

Dearest Carol and Dee,

The weather has finally taken a turn toward glorious here in my little private Idaho. My spirits are way up, plants and plans are coming along nicely this week. I try hard not to get too far ahead of myself. Gardening is like walking up to a dinner buffet: your eyes (garden plans) are so often much bigger than your stomach (ability/budget for getting it all done).

Today, the undergardener is lining up the 2 and 5 gallon black plastic pots for jump-starting the dahlias. I threatened to do this back in March, realized it was way to early and took a nap instead. I will plant all the tubers in these pots, put them in a hot spot, up against the south-facing house foundation, and let them sit in the sun until they are up a couple inches. Then, and only then will I give them a big drink of water, and after 4 weeks or so, I will plant them out into the perennial borders. Why all this extra effort? A good friend and professor of horticulture told me about this method. It ensures the bulbs get no water until the first leaves have opened, and the bulbs don’t rot in the ground.

Last Monday, I did get two big strong helpers in here for an hour. ONE HOUR! In that measly little bit of time they accomplished what would have taken me two or three days to finish. Not to mention I would have consumed a handful of Advil, and a few vodka tonics to assuage the pain of such physical exertion. Sure, I have some craters where the buddleia alternifolia had seeded itself about, the fallugia paradoxa had given a seriously lackluster performance (and I had such high hopes for the apache plume against the ninebark! The five huge miscanthus sinensis gracillimus have been removed, quartered and given away.

We are measuring and laying out the lines for the new retaining wall now that all the old shrubs have been removed. D finally got my coveted pet bristlecone pine in yesterday. It looks just great where we put it, under the bedroom window. It will enjoy perfect drainage there and gives me the much needed conifer/evergreen structure I need in that part of the border.

A handful of tulips are open, the daffodils almost gone. All around town the ubiquitous flowering pears are open and strutting their stuff.

I am hoping tomorrow the pink and white flowering dogwoods will open on cue and look smashing floating above the toothache- inducing pink blossoms of the PJM rhodies. Is that too much to ask? I think not. Especially since the apache plume/ninebark combo failed to dazzle. It’s rumored to be going up to 80 degrees and that ought to make the dogwoods pop.

I saw on Carol’s page the lilacs are open as were the Korean spice viburnum. That’s a few weeks away here. Usually at Mother’s Day. Patience is a virtue, they say. I will just have to wait.

OK, off to pot the dahlias. Until next week, happy gardening.

Your Dirt Diva and Perennial friend,

8 thoughts on “Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week 7”

  1. Wasn’t it just snowing there in Idaho? And now, spring. I’d love to try that tip with dahlias, but my south facing wall is the front of the house. I suppose I could try to hide them behind some shrubs… I hope the rest of your week is all sunny days!

  2. If my Dahlia has survived the winter in the cabinet in the garage, I’ll try your method for growing it on in a small pot before transferring it to the patio container. I’ve never tried to keep one over the winter before, so this is quite the experiment.

  3. I already know none of my dahlias overwintered in the basement, but the canna did. The canna was right on the dirt floor and absorbed moisture from it. The dahlias were high and dry–too dry.

    I think Carol’s kidding herself. I think she’s Zone 6.

  4. Ah, yes, having help with the heavy stuff in the garden is a very good thing indeed! The big rocks in my dry stream bed are now dug in properly, thanks to a helpful crew. I asked them to rake up the rocks in another dry stream area that wasn’t functional: holy moly, you should see the pile of rocks that came from that tiny area! Now I have to figure out what to do with those …

  5. I just stumbled upon your blog, and am really excited to keep tabs on your adventures. I am a Utah gardener, and most of my “garden” friends are from other areas…so it will be nice to learn from someone else along the Rockies!

  6. I’ve had no luck overwintering dahlias, but it doesn’t concern me. If I could just get a good season of flowering out of them, which I sometimes don’t, that would be great.

    I mentioned your dahlia strategy on Rant; I don’t know if you saw it.

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