When last we checked on the shady western border bed, it was undergoing a serious effort at weed eradication. Creeping purple bellflower was thriving amidst the orange daylillies and phlox in the bed, planted in times gone by by a gardener who will be weeding purple bellflower in her next life, I hope. We had wacked everything down with a weedwacker, and covered it with mowed leaves, then cardboard and left it for the winter. In the spring, anything that emerged through the cardboard got weedwacked, then covered with more cardboard. A final layer of wood chip mulch was added to hide the cardboard and hold it in place.
This spring, things are looking pretty good. Some creeping bellflower has emerged in a few places. We treated it cautiously with Roundup, and will do so again as needed, being extremely careful to avoid missing desired plants. With rain predicted for this afternoon and later in the week, today was the day to add some shade loving plants to this bed.
We happened across some mis-marked plants at Home Depot the other day, and we snatched up 10 ferns, 6 Japanese Painted Ferns and 4 other green ferns at $2.99 each. Score! With ferns in hand, we selected some of our hosta plants in need of dividing and went to work.
We were lucky to be joined by my colleague Will for the afternoon. Will is an AmeriCorps*VISTA I work with, who is assisting with development of our campus volunteer center to build student leadership skills. Will is interested in learning some gardening and homeowner skills, and in eating some meals NOT prepared in the campus cafeteria, so I happily attempted to meet those needs. (He wants to learn some cooking skills too, so I see a need for some pizza making lessons very soon.)
We explained our weed eradication system, then let him get in some shovel and transplanting experiential learning. After he’d had enough practice planting, we let him try out the new SkySwing (found at a tag sale, of course) we had hung in the morning. He’s planning on coming back next week. I’ll have to develop some lesson plans –I’m thinking compost management, i.e. turning ;-).
We divided several varieties of hosta, some lady’s mantle, cimicifuga, Canadian and European ginger, and ferns. Already in the bed are some woody shrubs –clethra, snowberry, a native dogwood, and chokeberries.
The end result of the day’s work? The transplants look a little limp, but they’ll perk up, spread out and soon, this will be a gorgeous shady bed. I can hardly wait to see it develop.