Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Day Without Thank Yous

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A bright and beautiful morning here on the mountain as long as you don't open the door. Karl the Wonder Dog's internal barometer was apparently working well this morning as the high pressure told him to stay in bed as long as possible and that's exactly what he did. He and Alex just woke up and it's almost nine. Gail is off to the Community Center for the book sale at the library and I'm getting ready to start the taxes.

Even though the snow is deep and the wind is bitter, Gail and I continue to work on plans for new gardens at the nursery. All our orders have been confirmed so we know where we stand with new items and we have a list of mature plants in the garden that will need to be dug and divided come spring. Last fall we asked Austin to pop out about 100 six year old daylilies. Those are still in the ground but loosened up to make it easier to get them out. The hostas on my list are a different issue as many of these have been growing for 5-6-7 years and you don't pop out something that weighs more than 200 pounds a clump. When we get to them we'll eat our Wheaties first and then cut around each clump, work them free with the six foot pry bar and then scoop them up with the tractor bucket.

Dividing daylilies and hostas is something I prefer to do in the spring. I don't need to contend with extra foliage then and it's easier to see what I'm doing, count fans or eyes and make the necessary cuts. I'm also less paranoid about spreading hosta virus even though I'm not aware that we have any here. Hosta virus is spread mechanically so dividing plants in spring probably reduces the opportunity should it exist.

Anyh-o-o-o, a long time ago Winnie, now 81 years old and our Chief of Hydrological Services
(aka best waterer in the world!) found a serrated knife at a yard sale. I think it may have been a bread knife but maybe not as it had a heavy, wide serration to it. Anyway it worked well and cut through tough roots as quick as the operator holding it. This year I had to buy 4 bread knives to accommodate what we had to do and they were less than stellar in comparison. A couple weeks ago as I was walking around Lowe's making a mental list of what I'd buy if only the Megabucks would come through for me, I found a good knife that's cheap. It's a drywall knife for cutting Sheetrock. The price range is $7-$15 and I couldn't see that one was substantially better than the other. Both had cushioned handles and about the same size, pointed blades and the steel in each was from China. If you have any dividing on your spring list, give one of these knives some thought. When I buy a replacement for myself, I'll send away a picture.

When you begin dividing plants from an established garden you'll be saddened by what transpires. Even if the opportunity will lend a new look, there's no way you won't miss that big old hosta or daylilies with dozens of flower scapes.

Any garden has an evolution and even if you are enamored with a small hosta like Golden Scepter just above here, you have to appreciate change and get excited about where you'll be in a couple more years. Patience is good! A garden plan works wonders.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where some Pine Grosbeaks have come from nowhere to eat cracked corn at the platform feeder. A dozen or so are on a crab apple finishing off the small fruits. Despite the fine buffet we have provided, this is apparently another day without bird thank yous. I guess the beauty of the birds will have to suffice!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm


Susan Tomlinson said...

Thanks for the tip about the drywall knife. A good idea.

I am staggered, though, by the thought of a 200 pound clump of hosta. Might as well be a tree. ;-)

George Africa said...

Hello All;

Sometimes you will see me suggest that you do a little stretching before your gardening work. When you are about to move established clumps of hosta or daylilies, get into this practice. I always give people the visual of a tree--there's at least as much under ground as above ground so plan accordingly, preparing yourself first and then cutting a large enough circle around the plant. A good pry bar is a real helpful tool with big plants.

Good luck!