Background Switcher (Hidden)

Cleaning the Greenhouse

Saturday, March 4, 2006

The horn of plenty, spilled out. Refuse pile is growing. Everybody's getting new pots. That is, if they aren't being thrown out altogether.
A windy, impossibly warm day in February is the ideal day to clean the greenhouse. "Clean" is a misnomer. What really needs to be done is slash and burn. Since my last cleanup in December, a jungle has been growing, winding around itself.
White-fly populations have peaked. Plants are top-heavy with blossoms and vegetative growth. I've overfed them, and we've all enjoyed it. Much as I love the abundance of blossoms and leaves, these plants really ought to be saving themselves for spring. So, after years of being too tender-hearted to do it, I have finally gotten to the point where I can behead a geranium with the best of them. But I have to be in just the right mood--nay, hormonal state--to be ruthless enough. This was the day. Rather than gnaw on Bill, I decided to chop up my poor greenhouse inhabitants.
There are so many amazing things about plants. One is their ability, given sufficient food, to grow in almost nothing. Look at the top growth on this "Bolton" geranium. My gosh. I reduced it to a couple of stumps and told it to start over.
Cited for failure to thrive: A small magenta bougainvillea I was never all that crazy about, anyway. Sentence: Death by composting.
Cited for being oversized: A snapdragon that had volunteered in one of my pots last winter, lived in a hanging basket all summer, and made itself at home in the greenhouse. Until now. Bye-bye.
Cited for redundancy: This enormous pot of geranium "Rosina Read," "Mrs. Cox," and Lobelia "Laguna Blue." Took cuttings of all of you. I couldn't bear to toss you in December. Sorry, your number's up. You're blocking too much sun. I did dig Mrs. Cox (the tricolor geranium at the bottom) out before tossing the rest. To special to throw, no matter how leggy.

It was an orgy of clipping and trimming, hauling and composting.
And when it was over, everyone was in tidy rows, cut back, repotted, watered, fed, and tucked in for the night.

A greenhouse is one place where I have absolute power. There's something to be said for being able to wield absolute power, at least somewhere in one's life.
before and...

A footnote, for Cindy, Sherri, and Tom: This bigtooth maple seedling came from Arizona in a styrofoam cup two Augusts ago. I saw them growing in the Huachuca Mountains, and was instantly intrigued by their tiny leaves and potential as bonsai subjects. It barely survived its first winter here, and Cindy the Forester and I were sure it died back in December. Just to make sure, I decided to knock it out of its pot and check its roots. Purty durn good-lookin' roots for a dead tree, I thought, and repotted it. And now it's leafing. "Bring out your dead!...I'm not dead yet!" Will wonders never cease.


[Back to Top]