Sunday, February 7, 2010

February Chores

Garden things to do in February:

Rent a blower and clean up the leaves from the Pin Oak, Quercus palustris
     This 60’ to 70’ tree spreads to about 25’. Ours is about 28 years old. It was a gift from Scott’s sister Heather. We planted it too close to the house. Subsequently, we have to clean the gutters more often and sprinkle moss killer every year. My real grouse about this tree; it holds its’ dead leaves over winter. I love the autumn red leaf show. It’s a real stand out. We planted it on the south side of the house for the summer shade.

Prune any excess growth low on the Princess of China tree, Paulownia kawakamii.
     This fast growing tree only gets to about 30’. It has heart shaped leaves (The Victorians used to cut the tree down every year so as to get the extremely large leaves. It is quite a garden sight.) And light lavender flowers with darker spotted throat. The fragrance is pleasant. Just remember to prune only on days it is above freezing, otherwise you will damage your plant and leave it open to disease and insects.

Lightly rake over the bark in the front yard.
     And make sure to pick up the Camellia japonica blooms. If left behind they will rot, unsightly, and pass a fungus on to the plant. That fungus will ruin next year’s blooms. Just removing the debris will break the cycle.

After they bloom, prune back the camellia and the Rhododendron sp. 'Cynthia'.
     The camellia needs to be ‘thinned out’. I prune out some of the inner growth so the bush tits can get in to eat the scale and air can circulate reducing the mildew on the leaves. Cindy, the rhody needs to be cut back every year. She is in the wrong spot, she is just too large.

Pull up the tiny holly bushes the Cedar Waxwings, Bombcilla cediorum, plant every year.
     Many ions ago, some neighbors got together and planted male and female holly trees in their front yards. Now, the cedar waxwings show up in late spring to eat the berries. The birds roost in my pin oak every night until they move on to the next forage. In the meantime, they poop out the seeds wrapped in nice birdie fertilizer. I love their ‘zeet zeet’ call.

Plant seeds.
     Yes, I will be planting seeds in the chill of winter. I choose seeds from annuals that reseed every year. You know the plants I’m talking about: ‘Love in a Mist’, larkspur, calendula, bachelor buttons, California poppies, cosmos, poppies, zinnia, and nasturtium among others. Just read the back of the seed packet. If it doesn’t say not to sow or transplant until the danger of frost has passed; then you have a plant that will weather. I am planting these in the front yard. Usually, I look for starts to add color. This year for less than $10 I will have color that lasts all summer long.

That takes care of the front yard. I don’t want to think about the backyard right now. Other than I will choose a spot on the edge of the garden for a couple of rows of peas. Washington’s Birthday, February 22, is the date to plant peas. I might add a hill of potatoes so we can have creamed potatoes and peas on Father’s Day.

Okay, I need to clean up the mint bed.
     Get the dead stems out. I also have Harlequin Glorybower, Clerodendrum trichotomum , to thin out. This is the ‘peanut butter’ plant. If you brush up against it, it smells like peanut butter. In August it has fragrant white blooms, not at all like peanut butter. In the fall, hot pink calyxes open to show one metallic blue berry. It suckers, a lot, freely. I need to get in and dig up a few. Planted in a yard you can keep down the suckers by mowing.

I’ll buy some more flower seeds to fill in the flower bed along the side of the shop. And by the garage. Oh, and to fill out the big English boarder. Scott will till the garden area and we’ll plant a garden. The lawn is a disaster; I’m going to overseed with annual rye grass. Fast growing, it will help fill in and take the abuse two doggies can dish out.

Well, I see we are now getting in over my head. Have fun in your garden.

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