GARDENING BY RONELLA: Garden smells trigger fond memories
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
May 08, 2013 | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This is the month when all our hard work comes to fruition. It’s also the month to enjoy those wonderful plants that we have waited all year to bloom. One beautiful plant is about to burst into bloom and that is the peony. My tree peony has already bloomed but the old fashioned peonies are just in bud in my area. A little information about this favorite might help some new gardener. First, don’t mulch them. If you feel you must, use only very light mulch. Always keep all weeds and grass pulled from around your peony. If you want to fertilize a peony, use the same fertilizer that you use on all perennials but fertilize lightly. If the soil is rich, you may not need to fertilize. You should always use a wire stake around the plant when it’s just a few inches tall so that the rain won’t beat the blooms down. After your peony has bloomed and the blooms are wilted, cut the blooms off your plant. Peonies will not grow and thrive in shade or in competition with shrubs or trees. Having said all that, I have seen peonies thrive and bloom well with no care at all. My grandmother had a huge plant that had been there for many, many years without moving or pulling grass from around it. However, there were no trees or shrubs around it.

You have often heard that the sense of smell triggers memories more than any other of the senses and for me, it’s true. When I smell the perfume of the Sweet William Pinks, I immediately think of my grandmother. She had two beds of them in a rock garden in front of the long front porch. Those were the only flowers I couldn’t pick. I finally understood that they self-seed and they had been there for many, many years. They were originally planted by Pa’s mother and were very important to Ma. She had also put the rocks there. When the flowers faded, Ma would spread the seeds throughout the little rock garden beds. This great-grandmother of mine had been an avid gardener and had planted many flowers along the garden fence and near the front porch.

My mother loved lily-of-the-valley and even wore that perfume so I associate that scent with her. Each year when they bloom, I remember the bottle of perfume on her dresser.

Because Mother’s Day is coming up soon, I want to remind those of you who have living mothers how very fortunate you are. Someday you probably will have a memory stored away of a special scent that brings back memories. I often wish that my dear Ma could know that I have shared my love for her with readers from all over the country through my book and my gardening columns. She would certainly be amazed. If she could read what I write about her rock gardens of Sweet William Pinks, she would smile and chuckle a bit.

If you are looking for a Mother’s Day gift, it’s not too late to buy potted roses. If you plant them carefully, they will do just fine. Another great gift would be some lily bulbs. These are not daylilies but the big fancy lilies such as the Regal lilies. They should have planting instructions with them. They should be planted three times the height of the bulb.

Who can resist those hanging baskets of flowers in all the garden centers? But we tend to forget how much trouble they are. Also most of them can’t stand direct sun and can only tolerate filtered sunlight in the morning. That goes double for the ferns. Those baskets will probably have to be watered daily and misted often. If you still buy one, check to be sure that they have a hole in the bottom.

I have heard recently of a new product, which is on the market now to repel deer and other small animals, that eat your plants. I talked to a reader who said that deer were eating his Knockout roses until he used this chemical on the roses and the deer haven’t been back since. This product is called Repells-All. I talked with my local expert at the Cadiz Hardware and Gardening Center and he advises that this product has to be used about every six weeks and also that animals will eventually become used to the taste or smell and you will have to use another product. My reader who called today is pleased that they are leaving his roses alone for now. Bob at the Hardware Store, also said that mothballs are considered carcinogens and are extremely dangerous where children might handle them.

Another product that I have used is called Weed and Feed. I especially like the liquid but it also comes in a granule. It is a super product.

Thanks for your calls and please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632.
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