Things have changed since Ma was in the garden
by Ronella Stagner. Gardening Columnist
Jun 17, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Things sure have changed in the world of gardening since Ma spent long days tending to her flowers, her chickens, the cow and then days on end canning and preserving.

If she could know of the wonderful things that have happened in the flower gardening world, she would surely say, “My, my! Who would have ever thought it!” Or, she might say, using her only byword, Mercy, mercy!”

She would be amazed to hear about the Iris that blooms in spring and again in fall. Or she would marvel at the Azaleas that bloom again in fall. Or the day lilies that bloom all summer. And how she would have marveled at the petunias that don’t have to have seed pods pinched back constantly to keep them blooming. But most of all, I wish she could see the Knockout Roses. They surely knock me out. I see them in landscaping of tall buildings, in front of restaurants and in home landscaping. I understand that they come n yellow and red but I have only seen the red. They seem to be impervious to blight, mildew and insects and are huge plants.

When I read of these wonderful changes in old favorites, I wonder what great gardener perfected the old plants. This must be what gardeners thought when first seeing the Hybrid Tea Roses.

Ma’s only roses were the old fashioned roses but they were truly beautiful and have made a big comeback since they aren’t a bit temperamental and are so much easier to grow than the Hybrid Teas. Their big drawback to city dwellers is that they require so much space but that was not one of Ma’s problems.

Her only other Rose was a small Rose that resembled the dwarf in the size of the blooms. It was a little white Rose with yellow centers and the only other one like it I ever saw was in an old cemetery beside a child’s grave. It was very old and the stem was about two inches in diameter. I got cuttings and grew some which I gave to friends. I noticed recently that the little Rose is finally gone. I often wondered who planted it and whose child was buried there.

Ma has been gone for many years but I always think of her most in spring because she often quoted, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” About this time in spring she would have the big old cook table covered n washed jars waiting for the canning to get in full swing.

She loved to can everything available in Pa’s creek garden or in her kitchen garden. She had grapes from her kitchen garden, blackberries, plums, damsons, pears, cherries, apples and others.

I wonder, also, what Ma would think of the freezers in every home instead of the long hot days of canning. I have often said that Ma would have killed herself if she had had a freezer.

But, alas, time marches on and little we know of the future’s changes. I can only hope that gardeners will always have the joy of working in beds of perennials whatever the changes.

Now is the time to remove the yellowed leaves from daffodils if you haven’t already done so. If you know where the bulbs are, you can also transplant them now, but be sure to add some bone meal or fertilizer. If you wait, you’ll probably forget where they are.

If you spray with an insecticide, especially Sevin which many vegetable gardeners use, wait until evening to spray when the bees have gone for the day. Those bees are vital to produce fruit and are very susceptible to Sevin. Your pets or people tolerate Sevin well but the poor bees can’t take it.

Oh, those dratted ticks! I have been bitten three times lately by the little deer ticks and thought of lime’s disease each time, waiting a few days to fall over with the ailment. I remembered the advise each time about how to remove a tick. Grasp it firmly as close to the skin as possible and pull upwards carefully and slowly. Don’t twist or jerk as you feel like doing. Better yet, spray your clothing before going into grass or woods.

Then there are chiggers. My early memory of chiggers is that Ma thought the red spot was a chigger after she had been in the garden or grass. Not so I know now. The chigger had long gone and left a tiny spot of blood at the site of the bite. Chiggers bite, feed for a short time and fall off. You don’t know they were there until they are gone. But oh, how that spot itches! So taking a shower after you’ve been outside won’t get rid of chiggers because they were long gone.

Again, spraying before exposure is the answer. Chiggers seem to go for the tightest clothing if you noticed, around your waist or worse.

Discount stores are advertising trees and shrubs at bargain prices now but unless you want to take the risk, it may not be worth it. One way you might try is to buy potted ones, put them in a shady spot and keep watered all summer and even then, it’s a risk. I have seen my gardener friend, Betty, do this successfully but she has a true green thumb.

(My address is Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211 if you want to order my book or call 270-522-3632 with suggestions or questions.)
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