Ear to the Ground: The Insider Dirt to Gardening in Upstate NY

From the Publisher: September-October 2019

by cathym on September 5, 2019

THE SEASON OF GARDENING MISHAPS
This spring and early summer, I started a small landscaping project that involved removing all of the lawn from my city-sized back yard. I’m slowly adding some hardscaping back there, but there’s lots and lots of bare earth. In July, I went away for a week. I’ve been gardening for a long time; I know what happens when you do that. Did I mulch? No! Put down some preemergent herbicide? No! Weed cloth? Don’t be silly! No, I just left all of that lovely soil exposed to the elements, and when I got back, the entire place was crabgrass up to my knees. UGH. 

Concurrently, a generous friend had offered me some cool plants—I only needed to come get them. When I say cool plants, I mean Japanese forest grass (expensive) and Eurpoean wild ginger (expensive and difficult to find). All I had to do was help dig up some giant miscanthus she wanted gone—and I could take some or all of that if I wanted, as well. Not having access to another vehicle, I put all of these plants into my convertible with the oversized grass in a garbage bag, buckled into the passenger seat. Of course I couldn’t put the top up—it doesn’t work that well, for one thing, and the grass was much too tall regardless. So I drove off with its strappy leaves whipping me incessantly, relentlessly, and painfully in the face, arms, and legs. By the time I arrived home, I had developed quite the itchy rash. I decided against installing any of that in my garden. 

I did divide up the hakonechloa and ginger (in tiny portions in order to get the most bang for my itchy buck) and excitedly planted them. I was vigilant about watering in the weeks following and excited to watch them settle in. It looked like they all would take. 

It turned out that the same time away that allowed the crabgrass in back to flourish resulted, due to a lack of watering, in the demise in almost all of those hard-earned plants. The ginger, certainly, gone. The grasses might come back. Some of them. Maybe.

But fall is for planting! And my friend has more hakonechloa and Europen wild ginger to give. So I’ll try, try again. It what we gardeners do. 

Jane

Jane Milliman, Publisher

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