Thursday, December 13

Planting (Finally!) Complete

Garden Journal note: 2007 planting completed at 12:13am on Thursday, December 13.

Yes, you read that correctly... I finished this year's planting after midnight last night. My boyfriend pulled up after his fencing lessons (he gives them) and found the dog and I working in the backyard. She was sniffing random tufts of grass--investigating who had been in the backyard leaving her messages, no doubt--and I was digging in the dirt with my favorite, broken old shovel.
(Side note: I know that it's pretty sad-looking, with its shrunken wood handle and broken tip. But it works so well and has so much character that I adore this shovel. The matching hard rake is the only thing I regret leaving with my former husband, because I don't think he'll appreciate it nearly as much as I did.)

Whenever I'm out digging at an absurd time of the year, I always think about those "Fall is for Planting!" proclamations that decorate garden centers at the end of the summer. I chuckle to myself and think, "No, December is for Planting!"

It really isn't, of course, but there were extenuating circumstances that led to today's shenanigans. First, some clearance trout lilies jumped into my basket while I was in a local garden center the other day. They were the last ones left, and I couldn't resist them even though I have never had luck with any bulbs that come in a "Biltmore" package. (And I swear that if these don't grow, no more "Biltmore" for me!)

I had two silene maritima that I had dug up but never replanted, and two pots of a low-growing blue sedum that were in the same boat. And when I recently visited the garden center where I worked this spring, I was gifted some free pots of perennials. Sure, they were frozen and felt like chunks of ice so they might not make it through the winter... but then again, they just might. I sunk them all into the ground, pots and all, to insulate their roots and wished them well over the coming winter.
Having a small garden, I am pretty choosy about the plants that I bring home--free or otherwise. So when offered a few plants, I sifted through what was left on the tables and picked only those plants that I had considered buying this year anyway: A yellow spiderwort (for container planting), a silver lungwort, 2 hostas, and 3 small pots of bearberry.

Besides being a pretty, low-growing, tough little plant, bearberry has an interesting history. First noted in a 13th century Welsh herbal--which appeals to my Welsh heritage--it was also used by the Native Americans as a smudge and for various herbal remedies.
It gets its other common name from its use in a Native American tobacco mix... and it's already set as that in my head because it's so much fun to say that you have "Kinnikinnick" planted in your garden!

Trout lilies, cool foliage plants, and a tiny little plant with lots of history. If those aren't good enough reasons for me to be out planting in 30 degree weather, consider this: The pictures accompanying this post were taken early this morning, as freezing rain started to coat NE Ohio. (Doesn't it look like some kind of pretty, modern, glass mulch?) Temperatures are supposed to plummet into the low 20s and upper teens during the overnights starting tomorrow, so it really was a now-or-never issue of getting them dug in before the ground froze.
And now that I'm finally finished with my outdoor planting for the season, just a week or so before the solstice... well, winter can finally head our way!

25 comments:

Digital Flower Pictures said...

I had to laugh at this one. I have been out gardening by the truck headlights many nights. Also my favorite spading fork just broke this year and I had to retire it. It was really sad. I have planted bulbs up until New Year's Day here with good results. I don't like planting perennials this late because they seem to be susceptible to frost heaving.

steven said...

Too funny. I was planting a Blue Spruce around Christmas last year because it was 75% off. Luckily the start of Winter was warmer than normal. The tree is happy and healthy and my reputation as a nut in the neighborhood is secure.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

digital flower pictures, awww... so sorry to hear about that spading fork. The old tools really are the best IMHO--the hard rake I wish I had taken was his grandpa's old one, though, so I just couldn't do it.

I don't like to move or plant perennials at this time of the year, either. I did find a place for them relatively near to the driveway, though, so I can watch for frost heaving... and I keep reminding myself that most of them are free. (I'll be upset if the sedums don't make it, though, since not having planted those are entirely my own fault.)

steven, that was another reason I left off of the list! lol. I hadn't gardened by porchlight since at least September... didn't want the neighbors to have to go for more than 6 months without a "crazy gardening chick" sighting. :D

Stuart said...

It just goes to show that gardening has no respect for time.

I had a chuckle at myself from this one Kim. I think we've all been there at some stage - gardening when it seems ludicrous to do so.

Meagan said...

Very cool picture of you in the start. It does not surprise me in the slightest that you were gardening in the middle of December.

Carol said...

Kim... Looks like from the weather you finished just in time. You don't have any issues with procrastination, do you? "You can answer that later".

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Benjamin Vogt said...

I didn't know you could plant that late and get results! I might dig into my snow and see what I can do....

I prefer to garden by moonlight, but I love to ride the day down all the way. Some gardening days are just too perfect, too right in the bones and muscles, and you don't want to leave--you probably realize even when you do, you never really will anyway.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a hoot Kim. I am proud of you for getting it all in the ground before the final freeze. That is dedication. I would never have any money if I worked at a garden center. UGH... You must have great willpower or is that won'tpower??

The County Clerk said...

Midnight, I understand.
Off season, I understand.

A love for a favorite shovel and rake, I understand.

Getting it done however-whenever, I understand.

But it is COLD out there. I'm not going. I am DEEPLY impressed.

- The County Clerk

Kylee said...

You're not nuts, Kim. But if you are, so are we. Yesterday, Romie and I planted the two Japanese Maples we received in the mail. It's been above freezing for the last couple of days and still was today. No frozen ground, just a bit wet. We planted them, mulched them, and put the plastic tile around them for protection from the rabbits (they're only about a foot or so tall). I think they should be fine. This is certainly the latest we've ever planted anything, but from what I've been told, with trees, as long as the ground isn't frozen, you can plant them, so we did.

And hey, we've got a shovel that looks exactly like that! I have no idea how old it is, nor does Romie. It seems like we've always had it. Maybe my parents passed it along to us when we got married, or maybe my grandma did. Anyway, it looks well-used and we love it.

Be careful in that ice!!

Nickie said...

I was just reading about bearberry in Henry Thoreau's Wild Fruits. How cool is that to see you posting about that very plant? :)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Good luck with those trout lilies. I haven't had much luck with the native Erythronium album, but I've managed to keep several plants of an E. dens canis cultivar going for at least half a dozen years. I read somewhere that trout lilies like to be planted with a rock under their roots. Why don't you go out & dig 1 up & try it right now? :)

David in Greensboro, NC said...

Funny! I wrapped up my fall...er...December planting on Tuesday, but I'm a good bit south of you. Even I've never been out planting stuff with freezing rain breathing down my neck-not to say it WON'T happen, just not yet. Hope everything makes it through the winter.

Christopher C. NC said...

I too like the first picture in the post. Very nice image.

Depending on disturbances I may have to do some re-planting myself on Saturday. The cold is headed this way again that evening.

And mulch. It's never to late to add mulch is it?

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Stuart, that's very true... like when I was transplanting hellebores in the middle of a summer drought, perhaps?! lol.

Meagan, those are my new LED light candles. I love these things--they fit on my skinny windowsills and don't use much battery at all. I'm not much for decorating outside at Christmas, but I love the look of candles in old windows.

Carol, I'll get back to you tomorrow on that! ;)

Benjamin Vogt, don't get me wrong... it's definitely not recommended! But if your alternative is to let them die in pots on the driveway (*ahem*) then it's worth a try. And like I said, most of my experimental plants were free so it's a cheap experiment for me.

And very well put, about riding a good day down all the way. Lovely. :)

Lisa at Greenbow, well... I find ways to rationalize some of those purchases! lol. But I have told my boss that it was a no-brainer to hire me because they're getting a lot more of my money now than they would have otherwise!

Hank, I'm shocked! You sail, for pete's sake... the chill last night was nothing in comparison to the cold sea air that seems to knife right through your coat. *grin*

(You could do it. I know you could. If you had a good reason.)

Kylee, whew--that makes me feel better. As long as I have good company in my insanity, I'll stick with it. lol.

Bri actually bought me a new shovel a month or so ago. It does at least have a wooden handle instead of fiberglass or whatever they're made of these days... but I still can't bring myself to use it. I told him it's all him--I'll keep my old chipped one that cuts like buttah!

Nickie, really? I have that book... I'm going to have to go back and reread to find the bearberry part! How fun. :)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, ppppffttt! (That's me sticking my tongue out at your last suggestions... lol!) Well, if these don't take maybe I will buy some earlier next year and try again, then. Heaven knows I have plenty of rocks around this yard to use!

David, oh you just wait... you will. In fact, I'm surprised you haven't yet! *grin* Thanks for the good wishes--I will post an update in the spring, of course.

Christopher C., thank you. It's probably the closest I've come to posting a recognizable picture of myself on my own blog... that blue/white light just fascinated me so I had to grab the camera and play. :)

By the way, I added your new blog to my bloglist. I had taken off the old TI blog when it went inactive, and made a mental note to add your new one on once you'd made it to NC. Obviously I need a new note-taking system. *smile*

(And no, it's never too late to add mulch. In fact, you are often further ahead to wait until the ground freezes in our zone--I have a pile of mulch yet to disperse myself.)

Heather's Garden said...

www.heathersgarden.typepad.com

Okay, I took photos today of the things I never got to before the snow came and there you are still planting. I swear I'm in a warmer climate than you are! But you're obviously more dedicated than I am. Or is that crazier?

Gina said...

kim - that is a very scary picture!

i had no idea you could plant in the snow.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Definitely crazier, Heather! lol. And not as cool--your "kissing balls" that you made absolutely rock.

Gina, you really can't... not really. Well, you maybe can, but you shouldn't! lol. I planted between 11pm-12am, before the snow/rain started early that morning. But yes, still a little scary.

jodi said...

Great post, Kim! I'd be planting in the snow too...except we've got about 15 inches around the gardens now, and more comin' down tonight. and our favourite tools are our favourites, no matter how many new shiny ones we have--I understand perfectly!

Pam/Digging said...

Pam @ Digging says:

I'm fortunate to live where I can plant all winter, but, boy, I don't think I've ever planted in 30-degree temps before. I am impressed by your determination!

chuck b. said...

So you posted your picture... Now you're going to turn up on Google Images searches for "random tufts of grass" and "broken old shovel"!

"Trout Lily"--sounds gross and lovely at the same time. Like maybe it smells bad, or exudes a slimy coat. The picture of it was definitely lovely.

Kerri said...

Kim, you're among friends here...gardening at strange times is not foreign to us :)
My husband just planted some tulips last week that were still waiting to go in the ground. And I still have to dig up my glad bulbs! The weather hasn't been cooperative when I've thought of it!! I hope they're still OK.
There's no substitute for a favorite tool!
We've had that frozen mix here too earlier this week. Now we have a fresh 6 or 7" of snow after yesterday's storm.
Nice to 'see' you!! :)

Entangled said...

Well, we have to do these things whenever we can find the time, right? For me it would be more likely to be 5 AM rather than 12 AM though. Yesterday I was still working on leaf cleanup, but the rest of the bulbs won't get planted until after the holidays. I'm hoping for a warm January.

snappy said...

I Salute your gardening madness in planting in December!I would have bought more bulbs today (as they were reduced to a stupid price like 87pence) but the soil has frozen.I would need a pick axe to bury them!
The birds water has completely froze tonight.Last night it was an ice plate on top of the bowl.Tonight the bowl is ice!
I will blog about my favourite garden tools, mostly handheld ones that I have got attached too.Not even new ones, most are old and rusty, but trusted!
I love Trout Lillys, and the history of the Bear Berrys.

lisa said...

Ha! You are the coolest chick I know...I hope it all works out the way you want it to! I'm with Hank on that one-too cold for me to plant even if my ground wasn't frozen. Not too cold for ice fishing, though (some logic, huh? ;-) I have an emotional attachment to several of my tools, too...they are loyal servants, and hard to part with. I like to retire them as decorations when possible...I have even seen where people attach a small birdhouse to an old rake or shovel, then just place it in the garden somewhere to watch over things and house the birds.

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