Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dividing and Deadheading

Tuesday was the kind of day that comes all to infrequently in July, and even more infrequently when I have an afternoon off--cloudy and cool, with temperatures in the 70s all day. I spent the first hour or so finishing the last Harry Potter novel. After I closed the book, I needed to work off the nervous energy from vicariously fighting Voldemort and reflect on what had happened to Harry, (and that's all I'm telling you!) so I went under the house for my tools.

The first project was to divide a clump of bearded irises. This is a satisfying task because it gives me something to do in the middle of summer when there's nothing else to plant or transplant. Plus, like all gardeners, I like the idea of getting free plants and this is a way to do it without risking arrest and prosecution.

The irises in question were planted by garden gnomes (Gernumbli gardensi) a couple of years ago. Teresa didn't plant them and I don't remember planting them, so the only plausible explanation is that they are the work of gnomes. (I'm indebted to Xenophilius Lovegood for supplying the scientific name of garden gnomes, a species that has been largely ignored by the scientific establishment.)

I uprooted the entire clump, pulled apart the rhizomes, replanted them with the top of the rhizome at the soil's surface, and clipped the leaves back to about 6 inches. Next spring, the entire back of the Birdbath Bed will be sporting tall, graceful yellow irises. At least I think they're yellow. If purple or white irises bloom there next year, you'll know that the gnomes switched them.

Next it was a short hop across the yard to weed the Bottomlands. This is the moniker I gave to the bed formerly known by the unwieldy name of "the bed next to Dusty's yard." The Bottomlands consist of a hodgepodge of plants that I acquired without any definite plan of where they would go. It functions as a holding pen for plants waiting for me to find a permanent home; I expect that as the years go by, the Bottomlands will be the permanent home for many of them, if for no other reason than sheer indolence on my part.

Finally, it was time to deadhead the butterfly bushes. This is the first year I've troubled myself with deadheading, and it does seem to increase the number of blooms. Not that I've kept any sort of records, mind you. Even if it makes no difference, deadheading butterfly bushes is an easy and painless way to get a sense of accomplishment, and it provides a plausible excuse as to why you just can't attend some dreadful social event to which you've been invited. "Sorry," you say, "I'd love to, but I absolutely have to deadhead my butterfly bushes this Saturday." As long as they aren't gardeners, it sounds like work--and we're not going to tell them otherwise, are we?.

Oh, come on. Don't tell me you've never concocted some elaborate excuse just so you could stay home and dig in the dirt!


Blackswamp_Girl said...

Not too elaborate of an excuse... mostly just that I need a sick day. They don't need to know it's a "mental health day."

I LOVE that garden gnomes have a proper Latin name. Thanks for sharing that! And I bet that dividing iris would be a great way to work off whatever angst you had after reading the book. :)

Wrenna said...

I'll concoct nearly any excuse to stay home and dig in the garden.

I should just say "leave me alone, I'm digging!"

Gina said...

David - thanks for the detailed account of dividing iris. I will be referring to it when I do mine.

David in Greensboro NC said...

Blackswamp--Another thing I learned from the latest HP book is that it's good luck to get bitten by a gnome--something to do with the properties of their saliva!

Wrenna--Feel free to use my blog title as your answering machine message if you like!

Gina--You're quite welcome. Hope yours are pretty next spring.