KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are proud to tell you that KCB rules as the 2008 Maine Master Gardener of the Year. And we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family. Now on with the show...
During this Holly Jolly time of the year, my musical thoughts are usually those of ‘Let it snow, let it snow…’, ‘Oh, Holy Night’, or ‘Santa Clause is Coming to town’, with the heavy emphasis on ‘he knows if you’ve been bad or good…’ as it always makes me a little more than nervous that I’m being more naughty than nice.
Today a different tune emitted from my lips. ‘Lullaby and Goodnight, go to sleep now little hydrangea, rose, peony’ or whatever it was that I was seeing for the last time this season. It is hard to believe that just a few short weeks before Christmas I am still putting gardens to bed.
Today, having used the last of my supply of Espoma’s Plant Tone and Coast of Maine’s Penobscot Blend I had to replenish my supply at a small garden center close to my client. The clerk was surprised to see me and more astounded that I was still working ‘out of doors’. Never to be at a loss of words and gardening talk I enlightened her that Thanksgiving is now my benchmark for the end of season’s chores whereas a few years ago ‘Halloween’ marked the end.
My explanation included that it is best that the plants, trees and shrubs be dormant before the final feeding of the season. Frozen earth or snow fall does not keep me away, what does is bitter cold weather. The line between too warm for the ornamentals and way too cold (for me) is one of the thinnest lines that exist in my world. However, I digress.
My soliloquy continued with plaudits of feeding of roses (Rose Tone is excellent yet I use Plant Tone coupled with Penobscot Blend as the mulch to protect the roots). Furthermore, how could any late season feeding be complete without including Holly Tone as the nectar for Hydrangea, evergreens or other acid-loving plants and shrubs?
Overhearing our conversation, a customer thanked me as she purchased her own bag of Plantone. She than asked about bulbs as she had not yet put all hers in for fear of all the chipmunks and squirrels that were scurrying her property. As long as the ground is not frozen and a hole appropriate for the size and depth of the bulb can be dug than go for it, she was told. Bulb Tone was added to her order (another KCB fave from Espoma). Being a humble person I was hesitant to share one of my most beneficial of bulb planting tips. Nevertheless, this is the Season of Goodwill towards man I felt it prudent to offer my golf tee suggestion to mark the spot where the bulbs are planted. Simply push a golf tee next to the area where the bulb was planted once the hole has been covered. This will eliminate erroneously unearthing the bulbs next year.
Guilt washed over me as she murmured that her husband had more than enough tees and wouldn’t be needing any until they left for ‘the Carolina’s’ after the New Year. Her demeanor indicated that I made a new friend this day. With a lilt in her step she exited the store and called over her shoulder ‘I can’t wait to tell my husband we still have time to take care of the garden.’
The ‘we’ in her statement coupled with the use of her husband’s golf tees, I was left with the slight suspicion I perhaps had less of a fan in her husband. I am somewhat thankful I will not be returning to this certain town until next spring. By that time this couple would have enjoyed their time in ‘the Carolina’s’, have returned to the blooms that only spring bulbs can offer. In addition, their waiting garden beds will require less work than if they had neglected the fall clean-up that is so vital to our Spring.
Therefore, if your own gardens and landscape have not received all that they should to prepare them for that long-winter’s nap, it is not too late. What better way to detour from the stress of holiday chores and shopping then spending time in your garden? Don’t be surprised if as you say good-night to your plants for the last time in 2008 you find yourself humming that childhood lullaby………..and be like me and when the word ‘baby’ comes to play the song becomes a medley and morphs to ‘Baby, it’s cold outside…………’
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
December 6, 2008