GARDENING ... AND MORE: Don’t relax too much – your garden needs work
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Aug 06, 2014 | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It would be nice if you could sit back in August and just enjoy the fruits of your labor but sadly, there are things to do and most important, things not to do.

Startling with things not to do, don’t do any pruning of landscape plants now. I have always loved to prune and once I got out the pruning shears, I just got carried away and I think most folks are like me but restraint is good now. Those landscape plants are getting ready for winter already and don’t need any exposed ends. Cold weather could kill them. Once it is really cold, you can prune some hollies, magnolias and evergreens. Strangely, the time to prune them is when you want greenery in the house for Christmas. However, deadheading many of your plants is most important to keep them blooming. Deadheading is especially important to tall garden phlox, roses, and any flowering plant whose blooms are fading.

Evergreens, both broad leafed and coniferous, can be planted from now to September 15. They will need lots of water so it’s important to saturate the soil.

Biennials, such as foxglove, can be started from seeds now. Be sure to shade any little seedlings and don’t try to set them out now.

About this time of year, you may find some little self-sown seedlings from hollyhocks, larkspur, columbine, sweet William, etc. If you like the parent plant, these should be carefully guarded. Just don’t try to move the seedlings until next spring.

Every gardener could write a book entitled, “Mistakes I Have Made”. This is a great time to check over your flowerbeds and decide what you could do to improve things. There may be a bald spot where something died or a plant just grew and grew and has taken over in another spot. Get out your camera and get some good pictures of all the flowers. Next spring, when you are planting and moving plants around, you can improve the whole bed.

Another mistake most of us make is to plant things, such as hostas, where they look good but they require a lot of water and should not be grouped with plants that like dry soil such as Lamb’s Ear or Red Hot Poker. If you make a diagram or take pictures, next spring you can rearrange the moisture lovers together. A little careful planning will take some of the work out of gardening.

I spent as much time as possible with my grandparents after my family moved from the farm during my childhood. I almost always spent August with them. Even in my teen years, I managed to spend many weekends with them. When I was old enough to date, I often invited a girl friend to spend the weekend there with me and our dates came down to the farm to get us. I mention this to let my readers know that I kept up with what went on at Ma and Pa’s. Ma and Pa loved having young people around and my friends loved being there.

I receive many calls from my readers telling me that they enjoy reading about my grandparents and the little farm and the happenings there. I always am truthful with these stories and I never embellish them. Things were as I write.

Most children would be bored with life on the farm but I never tired of staying with them. I learned many things from Ma and much that I learned from her has stood me in good stead in later years. I never aspired to learn to cook but I loved helping her with the wash and especially with the ironing. I loved to go through her collection of handkerchiefs and her lovely drawers full of linens. I never tired of helping her quilt. I thought it great fun to watch her can those rows and rows of jellies and jams, along with the jars of fruit.

I loved sitting with her on the front porch watching for the mail carrier. When we would see his old Model T, I would race down the hill to see what letters had arrived for her. She wrote faithfully to her sister Rose in Texas and each letter would have a tiny swatch of material of Aunt Rose’s latest dress or a pressed flower from her big flower garden and sometimes seeds from some different vegetable or flower. She only saw her dear sister one time after she married and moved to Texas. When their mother was about to die, Aunt Rose and her husband came and that was the last they saw of each other but each knew all about the life of the other. They also exchanged some pictures over the years. Ma also corresponded with various nieces and nephews from different states even though she was never to see some of them.

Thank you for your calls. Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632. As my husband was fond of saying, “If she knows, she will tell you and if she doesn’t know, she will tell you anyway.”
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