Planting the Dahlia Garden

The cold damp smell hit me  as I pulled open the old wooden bilco doors.  A thin layer of mud had collected in the creases of the stone steps into the basement.  Sunlight coming in the two small windows of the old cold storage room guided me through the darkness as it would have 150 years ago when the house was built.

As I picked up one paper bag after another, the soggy bottoms broke open dropping Dahlia bulbs on the slate floor.

Last year, when I dug up the bulbs for the winter, I separated them into paper bags labeled with a drawing of the flower, it’s color, and height.  So now I laid the bulbs on top of their bag and carried them to the wheelbarrow at the top of the stairs.

It never takes as long to plant the Dahlia’s as I think it will.

Yesterday I turned the soil, so all I had to do was decide where to put the bulbs, plant them then cover them with old hay for mulch.  They didn’t all fit in the garden I had prepared for them (I layered it with donkey manure last fall) so I put some in the other gardens around the house.

Wildflower garden with the fence inside it.

Yesterday  I worked on the wildflower garden at the corner of the yard. Some of last year’s flowers had returned, but in the center of the garden, a patch of grass and weeds were growing.

I pulled up everything that wouldn’t produce a good-sized flower then threw down a mix of wildflower seeds and covered it with the same old hay.

As soon as I turned my back, the brown hen was scratching and pecking at the seeds.

I know from experience that putting up the little wire fence along the edge of the garden doesn’t keep the hens or cats out of the garden. So I put the fence right into the garden, hoping it would create such small spaces the hens and cats would keep out.

So far it seems to be working.

Purple Hyacinth Bean Vine (behind the small hosta)in front of my studio window.

Since Kitty gave me the Purple Hyacinth Bean Vine last week, I’ve been trying to decide where to put it.  It needs sun and a place to climb.

So today I picked up the small plant and walked around the yard asking it where it wanted to be.  That’s when I got the idea to put a little bit of fencing in front of my studio window so I could see the vine and it’s purple flowers when I was working.

Hosta Zinnia made in a den

Not everything worked out so neatly.

Every year it seems one of the dogs takes to sleeping in the hostas.  I don’t mind one bit when they crawl under them, finding a cool spot.  But when they lay on top of them crushing them, it always gets to me.

In the past, it’s been Fate, Gus, and Bud who destroyed a hosta or two.  This year it’s Zinnia’s turn.

I have to admit, she made herself a cozy little den with a lovely leaf floor to sleep in.

I thought about digging up the host’s roots and moving it.  But then she’ll probably just do the same thing somewhere else. Hostas are so hardy, I’ll bet it survives and comes back next year.

Now all my gardens are in for the summer.

That’s not to say I won’t be moving things around and putting new plants in where needed. And there’s always weeding to do.

Some of the seeds I planted last week are coming up under the small pieces of chicken wire in the Back porch garden.  The leaves on the fig tree have grown into their recognizable shape.  And the Lilac bush, that I cut back every year, is bigger than ever.

Now I can get serious about stacking next winter’s wood. I have at least two cords stacked and another to go.

Over the next month or so Gregg Burch will be delivering five more cords.  When I’m done stacking, the woodshed and the pallets just outside of it will be full and we’ll be ready for winter.




6 thoughts on “Planting

  1. Your gardens are beautiful! So many lovely colors! My flowers are beginning to recover from the hail storms we’ve been having. I did find a stack of old pots, some were at my neighbors house and I’ve been putting them over the hail survivors. No casualties after today’s storm! I think the petunias, lupine, verbena, and columbine will all make a good recovery. The impatience weren’t so lucky. It always amazes me how the plants that appeared to be smashed find a way to come back! I love my gardens! Happy gardening!

    1. So you had more than one hail storm Josie. Wish I could give you some of my pots to use to cover your plants. I’ll remember that if it ever happens here with any regularity. It is amazing how resilient some plants are.

  2. Maria – Your gardens are lovely and I like the idea of asking a transplant where it wants to be placed! In the picture of the crushed hostas where Zinnia made a bed, I see some pink blossoms. They remind me of blossoms on a beloved “pinkster” bush my mother had when I was growing up. The scent was absolutely incredible and I could never get my fill of it. I’m wondering if you might have the same bush.

    1. I do have that same bush Pam. It smells so good and I love the pink color. I pruned it last year and this year there are even more blossoms than usual. I’d never seen this bush before till we moved into this house.

  3. You won’t see many pinkster bushes around unless it’s a very old planting. My mother said that the one at my childhood home had been given to her from an elderly relative. The bushes were wild and people used to dig them up and place them near homes. The pinkster azalea is on the Protected Native Plant List in NYS so that practice is not encouraged anymore. You’re very fortunate to have one to enjoy!

    1. I didn’t know that Pam. It did always feel like a special bush to me. It’s right outside the back door, so I pass it several times a day. And I get to see it from the kitchen window. Thanks for all this!

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