Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What's On Your List?

It's chilly and gray out today. Seems like a good time to make my do-able list. Do-able is what I am able to do by myself; crew-able is what I need a crew of yard workers to do for me.

The Do-able List:

1. Purchase soil conditioner. I buy pulverized pine bark to use as mulch. It has a fine texture that looks better in a native/natural garden. Last fall I stopped at a local nursery and asked the guys who load the cars if they thought they could get 20 bags of soil conditioner in my Outback...15 minutes later I came back to find they had taken on my simple question as a challenge and stuffed 31 bags of mulch into my car. I didn't ask them to remove the extra bags, but driving home was another issue.... I couldn't see out the back and I am pretty sure the car was listing, but each one of those bags of conditioner got used.

2. Mulch the beds with the soil conditioner. Hmmm...wish I had a crew.

3. Make a wish list of wildflowers I want to get at the Howe Garden/ Cheekwood Wildflower Fair. Edit the list. Ixnay on plants that need full sun, and/or moist acid soil.

4. Cut back all the ornamental grasses and the perennials....add to compost. Clean up other winter debris.

5. Divide and move the spring bulbs that aren't producing or are over crowded...I have moved them in full bloom, they are hardy fellows and you can see how they look in their new home.

6. Photograph the spring bulbs, this will make fall planting easier and I will be less likely to slice the bulbs in half. Go ahead and photograph everything. I have never done this before....why I can't tell you!

7. Find a carex/sedge/native grass to replace the lawn/weeds. There is a candidate but I am not convinced, so if anyone can recommend natives, feel free to: What do you think of this one? Juncus tenuis or Path Rush: The name sounds perfect and so does the description from Niche Gardens: "Native to the entire US and most of Canada, this is an extremely adaptable and tenacious plant. Enjoys wet areas but can grow just about anywhere. I was introduced to this plant on the harsh granite balds of the Blue Ridge, where it grows out of cracks in the rock and in the well-trodden paths, hence its common name. Fine, slender leaves of bright green grow into small dense clumps of soft foliage. Spreads by rhizomes and self-seeding, yet is not aggressive; works well beside ponds or streams; very nice in a rock garden. Invaluable as a ground cover in sun or shade, or as a step able substitute for turf grass in walking paths or between paving stones. '

8. Start on a design for the private retreat (see earlier post). I can plan the design, purchase some plants and even move plants in from other parts of the garden/yard but some of the heavy work will have to move to crew-able list.

9. Walk around the yard and assess each garden bed. Do this periodically as plants start to grow and fill in...are there holes left from plants that died, does the design work....here is where the photographs will pay off!

10. Work on acceptance and honoring my limitations: That this list is never ending....and that I have forgotten something that seems glaringly obvious, that my garden is not perfect, never will be (not that I think it should be!) and that there are some chores I can't do anymore and while that is VERY frustrating, it is necessary to accept that or risk never being able to garden again.


all the rest.....



  1. good post as always! i have to smile at the listing outback! been there done that! just be careful you don't pop the springs! haven't had that misfortune yet. great list and i look forward to seeing that native grass. i talked about your blog and garden at our county tree steward training last night. the fact it is that calcerous soil. right? limestone area? interesting. lots of folks have that soil and can be challenging.

  2. Gail !
    Your list is like mine but you have a much bigger area to "tame" and control than I do .. so yes .. remember that you can NOT do everything and that you DO have to rest !
    I have to remember that TOO !
    I also want to get rid of our front lawn .. it is going to be tricky to find the right plants and look for it .. I would like it with scattered slate stones and plantings in-between the stones such as thyme and "steppables" .. I have so many things I want to do it can become overwhelming .. we are a funny people .. work ourselves into the ground and yet loving it wholeheartedly : )
    Great post !

  3. Tina,

    Publicity is good, yes?! thanks, oh yes limestone, nearly neutral soil.


    I want to do way more than I can. What I find the hardest about getting rid of grass...is that my beds are huge and they need something strong to make them pop...traditionally grass can do that, but I like to complicate so I want something just not turf.

    I am thinking about retiring some areas....

    yes we are a funny people.


  4. Great post and so true, cutting back on the maintenance is crucial to your health. One of the first things we did here was get rid of the front lawn, there is a small side lawn for child's play is all that is left. I used low shrubs with yellow acorus grass underneath. That grass is evergreen and the yellow pops. It is clumping but the clumps do enlarge. The wild strawberry and wild violets are there also but can't be stopped. They are low and look sort of nice under the azaleas, barberries and winterberry hollies. The curb side is lined with liriope, interplanted with daffodils. It was tons of work planting all that but our front yard is fairly small. Weeding was done the first couple of years, but now I only pull the tall stuff and the shrubs have grown enough to shade out a lot of the weeds. Acorus likes wet or dry, sun or shade, BTW. Hope you don't try and do it all at once, maybe section it off, to save your back! Good luck,
    Frances at Faire Garden

  5. Frances,

    can you feel it...I am having acid soil envy....beneath the azaleas! I decided to risk sure death and planted pjms near the porch where I can tend to them but we'll see! I will look into the acorus sounds nice.


  6. Lists never end! Mine just gets longer and longer. Starting on the seed planting though. In fact I more lists to make. Like the "To be Propagated list" the "To Be Bought List" and everything else on the big to do list. I'm not sure how this will grow in your yard but Thyme might be a good ground cover for your lawn area.

  7. That's a good list. Your grass sounds like a smart choice. Are you going to add goats to your list? I've only got one old goat and he's still wearing the wedding ring I gave him. He grazes well but it's just the pantry. I keep saying I'm going to go less maintenance but then I see something I like and that idea goes out the window. Happy Halloween!!

  8. Gail, I was thinking how ambitious your list was when I saw number 10. Glad you are going about this the right way!

    Soil conditioning is going to be a big "to do" here this year.

  9. oh the lists! love them/hate them. Since we've been gardening down here for the last 6 weeks I am well on my way checking off my spring to-do's. The only problem is I keep adding to it as I go... just like all my lists. :-)

    Number 10 is one I need to add- I forget to remind myself of that one. Thanks. (I've added your blog to my blog roll- hope you don't mind)

    Meems@ HoeandShovel

  10. Everyone,

    I am typing without my computer glasses, so I am hovering over the keys..LOL...I appreciate all your comments, Dave, great idea with the thyme, meems, fabulous to be added, Anna, Happy Halloween to you, and Melanie...ambitious list and you are right #10 is the important one...


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson