epimedium rare

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “The Project”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. Just lying on the patio, the way I do a lot. The guy I live with sometimes talks about cleaning the patio rug. It’s a pretty comfortable rug.

When we went on our evening walk, yesterday, the guy I live with set the sprinkler in the middle of the back yard, so the cow-pen daisies could get a little water. I guess you can see that they did.This truly did used to be a lawn. A green one, that was mowed by a regular lawn mower. That was a long time ago.  The guy I live with said that both Slipper and Chess, purebred border collies who lived here before me, enjoyed the green lawn, but he always wanted a buffalo grass lawn instead. Back before “the turn of the century”, which sounds strange to me, there was a ‘609’ buffalo grass lawn, but the grass turned out not to be winter-hardy, and ninety-nine percent of it died in the winter of 1999 or thereabouts. So then the green lawn was installed.

But the green lawn had a problem, because there was one area where it got tinkled on kind of a lot. Chess, whom some of you may remember, liked to do that. So there was this green lawn, with a huge brown area right in the middle. It was turned into what you see in the picture above. In a way, then, all these cow-pen daisies are in a central bed which was started by Chess.

Today was a pretty interesting day. The sun came out for a while. Then it was dark again. For a while we thought it was going to rain. It got really windy.

Then it rained. The guy I live with got all excited, or at least somewhat excited, for a minute, until the rain stopped. “Oh well”, he said, and we went about doing whatever it was we were doing.

Yesterday, a shipment of epimediums arrived in the mail. Some were fairly rare ones. But they were on sale, so, well, you know. I’d never heard of epimediums before, but the guy I live with said there were a few in the shade garden on the north side of the house, and that there was an empty space by the birch, in the back yard, where these epimediums were going to go. I knew there was an empty space there and wondered about it from time to time. Not a lot, but every now and then. The way you do. When you see an empty space, don’t you wonder about it, too?

There is even a book all about epimediums.Epimediums are one of the “in” genera, like snowdrops and hellebores, and gardeners who are interested in them are said to be ultra-sophisticated, which of course is why the guy I live with had to order more. Though I suspect that epimediums are no longer as “in” as they were a decade or so ago, and the guy I live with was just catching up, which is pretty much the way things go around here.

The epimediums came from Edelweiss Perennials and when he removed one from its pot, he said that this was how a root ball (not really a ball but that’s what we say) should look; it looked very excellent. These plants could be planted right in the ground without anything being done to the roots, though as you can see they were soaked in a dish pan first. (The guy I live with says every gardener should have some dish pans.)

So holes were dug. The plants were set into the holes, and then watered. It was just regular dirt, but the water, from the watering can, disappeared immediately. It was amazing; I watched this very closely, and couldn’t believe my eyes. The water was poured in, and disappeared. In just regular dirt. Each plant got a whole gallon of water from the watering can.

Once they’re established, which can take a couple of years, here, epimediums will tolerate a considerable amount of “dryness at the root”, as Graham Stuart Thomas used to say. There are really very few plants that will grow in the “dry shade” garden writers talk about all the time, but epimediums are one. I mean at least if they get watered about once a week, so not really dry, but sometimes dry. Or at least not moist all the time.

Here I am, watching over the new epimediums. If it looks like I’m lying on a path, that’s because I am. Slipper created this path, a long time ago, because he was always looking for shortcuts.  I really like watching the gardening process as closely as possible. I might learn something, so I can help in the garden later on.

The bit of green rabbit wire in the lower left is because of the cyclamen which were planted there a little while ago, and in fact, it’s not to prevent me from stepping on them, but to remind the guy I live with that cyclamen were planted. They’re Cyclamen hederifolium and a couple are flowering now. 

Later, there will be leaves, which remain all winter long, and the rabbit wire can be removed.

The guy I live with said he’s ready for cooler weather now, because this summer has been so gloomy and depressing. He said that he always thought August was a melancholy time of the year because, first of all, when he was little, having to go back to school was looming on the horizon, and then when he didn’t have to do that any more, it was the idea that somehow he didn’t do all the “summery” things he should have done, like go to the beach or the swimming pool, or something else he never really did do.  The end of summer was so sad. But now, the weather seems to have changed, and summer is no longer summer but just a season of darkness and endless thunderstorms featuring large hail, to be avoided (hopefully) and endured, not to be enjoyed. I think I agree.

So the cyclamen, flowering, represented the beginning of cooler, and sunnier, weather. I would like that, for sure. We purebred border collies do not care for thunderstorms or hot weather.

Well, I might have gone on more than I needed to. If you think I go on, you should be around the guy I live with, who pretty much never stops talking. He said once that eventually he’ll stop talking, and just make gestures, but I doubt it. 

Until next time, then.




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rooting around

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “Stuff You Didn’t Know”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. 17081713Surveying my domain. The sun was out for quite a bit, today. The guy I live with thought something was seriously wrong.

The awful smell has completely disappeared. It was only present for about three days, and then vanished. The guy I live with said it couldn’t have been something dead, because it wouldn’t stop smelling; it would just smell worse. So if it wasn’t that, it must have been something else. Ghosts, maybe.

Today the guy I live with said he was going to plant the two ‘Big Bazooka’ agastaches, but he couldn’t even get them out of their pots. He had to cut the pots to get the plants out of the pots. He said that way, way back when, trees and shrubs used to come in metal pots and when you bought one at a nursery they had a special tool to slit open the pot, and then of course you had to be careful not to hurt yourself when you handled the pot. This was sort of like that.

When the plant was removed, this is what the root ball looked like.17081801He had something to say about this. As perhaps you can imagine.

If he planted the plants in the ground, they would almost certainly die. “Time to employ the Super Genius Method”, he said. “At least the roots are growing downward, instead of circling around.”

So the roots were soaked for a while, just to make sure that they were wet. I guess you never can tell, because all those roots seem to make a barrier to getting the whole mass of roots, like the roots inside the root ball, wet like they should be.17081702Then the root ball was stood on end in the water, for a minute, to make sure there were no air bubbles.

The plan was to tease apart the roots with a root hook, but they were all so tightly bound together, as you can see, that he said he’d probably wreck more roots than he wanted to.17081703The cork goes on the tip of the root hook. It’s to keep the guy I live with from poking himself when he isn’t hooking roots. I hear that there used to be a collection of corks in a coffee can in the garage, but one by one they were lost, and so another cork had to be put in place of the lost one. So there aren’t very many corks left.

The guy I live with said that in order to get corks, especially decent ones, you have to buy the bottles that come with the corks, and then chill the bottle (for some reason), open the bottle using a special twisting motion of the hand, empty the contents of the bottle, and then you have a high-quality cork to put on the end of your root hook.17081704I didn’t know any of that until today.

And then, to get back to it, the plants were re-potted in larger pots. Maybe the roots will start growing into the sand pretty soon. 17081712The perlite floats to the top, so I don’t know why he uses it, but he does. Maybe he likes seeing the perlite, or something.

In other news, the cow-pen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) are starting to flower. The plants are a little wilted because they haven’t gotten enough water, even though it rained a little the other day. The guy I live with says it needs to rain more.

There are a lot of cow-pen daisies on what used to be called the “lawn”. Maybe some should be thinned out. 17081705That was pretty much all of the gardening that took place today. A few weeds were pulled, too.

I got to go on my walk. This is me, ready for my walk. I was really ready. 17081706The reason I was so ready is that a couple of evenings ago we walked a different way, because the guy I live with read that we purebred border collies, while we do like tradition and continuity, occasionally enjoy a different experience.

So we walked to the “frontage road”, which is a road awfully close to the highway. The guy I live with said that people drive very fast on the frontage road, going to the apartments, or to the houses across the field. About twice as fast as the speed limit. So we had to be careful crossing the road.

But there were sprinklers on the other side. Maybe you know how much I like sprinklers. (It’s a lot.) There’s a group of offices there and the landscaping includes a whole bunch of bluegrass, like most landscapes do. 17081710


17081707I got soaking wet. It was fun.

We didn’t get anything in the mail today. No one called. No one came to the door. Yesterday, someone came to the door twice, holding a small clipboard, and I barked at them ultra viciously, because the guy I live with didn’t want to buy anything and didn’t want to tell them he didn’t want to buy anything. The guy I live with always wonders why people come to the door. Sometimes one of the neighbors comes to the door, and that’s okay (we like most of our neighbors), but when strangers come to the door, I take over.

The person who knocked on the door then went across the street, and knocked on the door there. No one lives there, now. So he knew this was something he didn’t need to be involved in. Sometimes, there are people at the house across the street, fixing it up. At first, when the last owner left, the house was dark, which the guy I live with didn’t care for, because there had always been lights on at night, but now there’s a light on in the house, and it looks friendlier than it did before.

A couple of people walked down the street today. The guy I live with didn’t talk to anyone, except himself, and of course me. No books were read, no music was listened to (that’s really unusual for here). The television was on, for a while, and a show called “Endeavour” was on. The guy I live with really likes things like that.

I chased a snake in the garden for a while, until the guy I live with said not to. We didn’t take a nap in the afternoon. The guy I live with was going to make Chinese sesame noodles and discovered there wasn’t enough tahini. He forgot to buy sesame paste at the Asian market, which is what you really use. You could use peanut butter but the guy I live with said that was way too weird.


Well, that was my day. I guess, really, our day. It was pretty good indeed.17081711

Until next time, then.




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