Designated Gardener Notes, July 2019

Posted on 07/31/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Not too much “All About Books” has been happening this summer. The Braeswood Condominium gardens have using up a lot of time. I have been doing the gardens for fifteen years, but as I slow down it takes longer to do what has to be done.

I am keeping up with reading, having a book or two in progress most of the time. I’m reading Frida by Barbara Mujica. This is a book that starts out with a lot of shock-and-awe and doesn’t let up. I’m learning bad words I hadn’t been aware before, There is a lot of body physical descriptions and functions mixed in with a story that explores human nature as it reacts to reality and personal limitations. That said, the book deals with real people and real events. This includes the Mexican revolution early in the twentieth century and two famous Mexican artist, Frida and Diego Rivera told through the eyes of Frida’s sister Cristina. I find it an interesting read. Not one of those books your can’t put down but when you pick it up again you are glade you did. I plan to do a full review when I finish the book. A interesting sidebar My wife Joan and I visited the Frida family home, the Blue House, eight years ago in Mexico City when visiting our daughter who lived there for a period of time. It has been preserved as a museum

At the same time I’m listening to another book, Forgotten Soidier, by Cuy Sajer. Cuy had a French Father and German mother who lived Alsace-Lorraine which was occupied by the Germans in the 1930’s. Cuy was drafted into the German army when sixteen years old and sent to the Eastern Front in 1942. The book is listed in Amazon as a memoir and but it soon became obvious that it was story of events as recalled by Cuy while on the Eastern Front but many of the details were fictional. This disappointed me. I thought I had been sold a bill of goods. However, after getting used to the idea that the book was not factual in every detail I continue listening to the book and appreciating it for what it is. It does provide a vivid description of the hell that the Eastern Front provided for the ordinary German soldier.

This year has been good to gardens in the Minnesota Twin Cities area. Ample moisture, but not too much. Some areas in Minnesota have received too much rain. Lawns have remained green without the aid of irrigation. We do have friendly deer visiting the Braewood gardens often since we located across the street from a wildlife area. They can do selective and devastating damage to a garden in a short period of time. Although deer are normally selective in what they will eat, they will eat the buds of almost any plant. I try to be proactive and use a product called Invisible Fence to deter them. However, sometimes I’m caught off guard and they will eat something I’m not expecting them be eating or in a place where I don’t expect them to be.

We are getting a healthy number of bees and butterfly’s on Monarda, Catmint, Black Eyed Susan, Salvia and Coneflowers. Still to come is the late sedum, one of the bee favorite plants. We also have a growing crop of milk weeds in a bed of Sumac plants so we are doing our part to help Monarch butterfly’s survive.

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Designated Gardener Notes

Posted on 05/27/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Early Blooming Bleeding Hearts Putting on Their Show

I became the designated gardener of our condominium when we moved here and suggested the landscaping could be improved. There was resistance to the idea by some owners who believed the lawn, trees and few scrubs that existed were adequate. However, after making some landscape improvements most people wanted more and we now have a numerous perennial gardens and flowering scrubs on the association property. I was 76 years old when we moved into our condominium fifteen years ago. If you do the math it will be apparent that my days as the designated gardener can’t last much longer. During the last few years I’ve asked myself if I could still do it. So far, every spring of those years I have found I could do it. One of these springs I will find I can’t do it and hopefully another designated gardener will appear.

The spring garden chores are about over. This included inspecting for winter damage. There were no loses despite a severe cold period, but some damage to boxwood bushes and to last year’s newly planted hydrangeas. Any emerging plants covered with leaves or pines needles were uncovered. Plants to be moved or divided were then dwelt with and new plants, shrubs and trees were planted. All the plants except rhododendrons were treated with a slow release fertilizer. The rhododendrons were fertilized after blooming. Any weeds that survived the winter were removed. After fertilizing, the gardens were mulched where needed using wood chips, pine needles or leaves. After mulching a weed suppressor was applied where needed. Toward the end of May seven containers were were filled with potting soil and annuals planted. These tasks took most of my time in May, in part because it takes me a week to do what I used to do in a day. I had help from the people that do our lawn and snow removal. I had them divide the Forster Reed Grass along the parking lot and at the front sign, plant some junipers and spireas and spread eight cu. yds. of mulch.

We replaced the contractors that had been doing the lawn care this year.  First impression has been good. The person that owns the business is also involved in work being done. Makes a difference. The previous contractor worked in a office and had a layer of managers between him and the people that actually did the work. The people that did the work changed often and likely were not concerned about customer satisfaction. No matter how automated the world becomes there will always be a need for people who provide services that can’t be automated and those services can best be provided by individuals who have a personal interest in providing the most satisfactory service they can deliver.

With the spring chores wrapping up, I hope to spend time on putting together two books of short stories that I am working on.

Below, a picture of a happy Gnome sitting in a bed of sedum.

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