Planting a flower bed with leftovers, or, “Happy wife, happy life”

Planting a flower bed with leftovers, or, “Happy wife, happy life”

 She said, “I want my yard to look like a landscaper lives here.”

I replied, “It does look like a landscaper lives here. Remember the cobbler’s shoes.”

 I plant a lot of flowers every spring.  Actually, I plant a lot of truckloads of flowers every spring.  This year was rather hectic because I had to plant flowers for all of my clients before our May 14 wedding which was followed by a two week honeymoon trip. When you consider the fact that I can’t really start planting until April 15, it looks like an impossible task.  I did it, though-mostly. Before leaving for two weeks, I placed all of my leftover plants in what I call my “hospital” and left instructions with my neighbor, Marilyn, to keep them watered.

 There is a flower bed in Dekie’s back yard that is in just the right place, separating the patio area from the rest of the yard. It was ugly, though, and grown over with all manner of iris, daylilies, poison ivy, and all manner of other stuff, including one calla lily plant which is a treasure. We dug out everything but the calla lily and mounded up lots of compost that I get from Mike Hutchins in Menlo, Ga. It looked like this:

Re working a flower bed with compost and an eclectic mixed border

Re working a flower bed with compost and an eclectic mixed border

The house was probably built during the late 1920s or 30s and has obviously been inhabited by numerous gardeners. Dekie said that when she moved in, she found rocks and bricks everywhere she looked or tried to dig. We decided that we would keep the tradition of the yard and use bricks and rocks that she had found for the borders. I had packed the back of the mini van with flowers and it looked like this:

Leftover plants in the white Dodge mini van

Leftover plants in the white Dodge mini van

I use the mounded compost for almost every flower bed installation.  It is quick, easy, and it “really, really works.” There’s just something about growing in a raised bed that I like. After the compost is piled up, the earthworms go to work, tilling the good dirt way down into the existing ground. I tell people they can stick pencils in this stuff and grow erasers. It is wonderful.

A flower bed prepared with a mound of compost

A flower bed prepared with a mound of compost

Dekie and Speck, the coon dog checked out all of the plants as they were unloaded. Speck had a wonderful time sniffing the fertilizer.

Dekie and the coon dog check out the flowers and fertilizer

Dekie and the coon dog check out the flowers and fertilizer

Around the end of June, it is sometimes hard to find the material that you want for a flower bed. I was rather fortunate the day before to have a client complain that the dragon wing begonias in her window boxes were getting too big, so I took them out and replaced them with smaller plants.  I had cut the tops out of the dragon wings and they were ready to go into the bed for the background. I love dragon wing begonias. They are, in my opinion, one of the finest flowering plants to come along in a long time.

Dragon wing begonia pruned and ready to plant

Dragon wing begonia pruned and ready to plant

Since the plants had been sitting around for well over a month, they had grown sort of tall and leggy. Dekie took on the careful task of pruning each plant so that it could branch out and strut its stuff.

Prune the leggy plants before planting even if it means losing a few flowers. You will be rewarded with many more.

Prune the leggy plants before planting even if it means losing a few flowers. You will be rewarded with many more.

When we cleaned out the bed, we were very careful to avoid disturbing the calla lily.  My mother taught me about callas and they are one of my favorite plants.

I love the way calla lilies grow and form clumps

I love the way calla lilies grow and form clumps

We laid the dragon wing begonias out and tried to be very particular because they grow rapidly and become rather large. They will make a wonderful background for the bed.

I like to lay out the background first. Dragon wing begonias will do fine.

I like to lay out the background first. Dragon wing begonias will do fine.

I had saved a few plants of white and purple angelonia.  We thought that they would go well between the dragon wings and the fibrous rooted begonias. This will make a terraced effect that is so nice to have. Since the plants had been in their containers for so long, we had to break up the roots so they will spread.

Break up the root balls to provide for better root development and, therefore, better plants.

Break up the root balls to provide for better root development and, therefore, better plants.

We set up an assembly line. I would dig the holes (which ain’t much trouble in that wonderful compost), Dekie would then drop in the time release fertilizer, and I would finish the planting. We were finished in very little time.

I always use time release fertilizer when planting

I always use time release fertilizer when planting

The planting was finished and my sweet wife was grinning. I will probably go back and mulch the bed with either cypress chips or pine straw, whichever gets left over first.

The flowers are planted. My new father in law said, "Happy wife, Happy life" I'm listening

The flowers are planted. My new father in law said, “Happy wife, Happy life” I’m listening

 It was time to clean up the pots for recycling and then to water the plants in. I planned to use my syphonex (which is a wonderful way to apply liquid fertilizer through a hose), but I thought this may just be a job for Sunday. I like to use liquid fertilizer along with the time release to “fine tune” the plants. I think I will introduce you to the syphonex next week. It is one of the best gardening tools I know of.

The syphonex is the best, easiest, and most accurate way I've found to apply liquid fertilizer through a hose.

The syphonex is the best, easiest, and most accurate way I’ve found to apply liquid fertilizer through a hose.

We set up the wonderful flower bed sprinkler. It is built out of pvc pipe with rain bird irrigation nozzles. If you want one, you can read about how to build it here

a handy home made sprinkler with pvc pipe and rain bird irrigation nozzles from Home Depot.

a handy home made sprinkler with pvc pipe and rain bird irrigation nozzles from Home Depot.

I’m learning about this married life. I liked the flower bed all right, but more than that, I really liked the smile on Sweetie’s face as she said, “Well, that’s a start”

********

You may also wish to check my article which tells about what happens when you prune a plant. See “The basics of pruning”

Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jane Schulz
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 15:54:56

    John, this will be a lovely back yard! I’m glad you like Calla lilies. I will save some more for you this fall. I can picture you and Dekie sitting out by the grill and watching the changes take place.

    Reply

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