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Late Summer Garden Makeover: One Day, Big Difference

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

July 19. The place is looking pretty fly; the drought hasn't hit yet; the late summer crabgrass has yet to take over the entire lawn, and the daylilies are all blooming. 

By August 21, though, my front gardens were showing their age. That big front bed was buggin' me. 
Over the years since I planted it, certain things had taken over, asserted themselves, crowding out the plants I loved and actually wanted there.
It was ticking me off.

I was winding up for a garden makeover. And I wanted fast results.

I had to wait for a good soaking rain. We got 2 1/2", and three days later another 3/4" of blessed rain, which would soften the soil enough for me to do some serious digging.
August 21 dawned clear and cool, 53 degrees. I went for my run and came back loaded for bear.

I started digging.

First to go were the huge, gangly, spent evening primroses that had bloomed beautifully, then turned into seed factories. I like evening primroses, but these had spread so aggressively they killed a bunch of things I like better. I wasn't about to let these drop their seeds all over this bed again. I got them out before the capsules opened. Whew!

Next to go were the orange ditch lilies that, no matter how often I pull them out, keep spreading. 
That's because you can't pull daylilies out. They just break off at soil level, leaving all the tubers. You have to get serious, get a spade and dig them out.

It didn't take long to get a cartload of tops and roots. Whew. That already feels a lot better. I have some beautiful farmer's market daylilies in that bed that I adore. But these orange ditch lilies just had to go.

Now there was some breathing room around the daylilies I liked. There was room for the bleeding heart to come back up in the spring, room for four beautiful little bleeding hearts my dear friend Lucy in Minnesota gave me this summer, and room for all the daffodils that had had to struggle through the daylilies. 
It's absolutely amazing the biomass I took out of that bed. Out! Out! Out! You can see the last remaining ditch lilies on the left side of this photo. They're going.

When I was finished, there was even room for me to plant a few new things next spring!

Next to go were all the lilies of the valley. 
I know this plant well enough to know that I will never get rid of them all. But I tried.
Now, I know a lot of you love this plant. I do, too. The problem is, this plant is a thug. A big ugly garden thug.
I got the start for what became a monstrous stand of LOV from my grandma Ruigh's garden in Meservey, Iowa. 
I never dreamt it would take over half my front bed with a foot-deep, impenetrably dense mat of roots and runners. 

I am a sentimental person, but I abandon sentimentality when a plant ceases to be an asset. Unfortunately, you can't grow just a few lilies of the valley. You wind up growing nothing else. Can you say "INVASIVE?"

Grunting and cussing, I dug and dug and dug. I was amazed to see they had infiltrated the hosta roots. Nothing stops them! The roots were so thick and heavy I had to chop them into manageable two-foot square hunks to be able to lift them and shake the soil out of them. 

 Another cartload of pure ugh. About 75 pounds of lilies of the valley. And a Lenten rose, one of many, that just keep seeding and spreading. I want things like larkspur and delphinium, bleeding heart, bergenia, fuchsia and butterfly weed instead.

When I was done, there was a pleasing amount of bare space in between the plants. Yay! 

Now to tackle the doorstep clutter. I can't help it. I'm a compulsive horticulturist. I propagate and pot up babies and divide and recombine...I just love messing with plants.
And pretty soon it gets difficult to get in the front door.
But I have a plan.

Next: Cheating with Container Plants and Tropicals: Late Summer Garden Makeover II.


Very satisfying work and lovely results. Well done.

What is this "rain" whereof you speak?

It must be the cooler weather and the shorter days getting the gardener in you stirred up. I too have been revamping some garden beds. It is time.

No ditch lilies here, just all colors of beautiful daylilies, some hybridized by friends. I dug out some LOV too but I love that week of scent.Also dug out some calendulas that did not ask permission to invade. Volunteer coneflower, liatris, heleborus and anemone adopted out. Room to breathe.

Love this blog just found it! Yeh! May I subscribe to it? I'm glad someone else has had trouble with the morning glories not blooming. What is up with that?

Posted by Anonymous August 31, 2015 at 7:59 PM
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