Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Think Ahead by KCB

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.

Biting ones tongue can be painful, figuratively and literally. On two occasions I felt this pain. I could also feel the pain of those who caused my lament. The store staff couldn’t help them. I couldn’t help them. They did not plan and now would have to wait.

In my harried "shoot from the hip lifestyle" I’m hard pressed to think about tonight never mind tomorrow. As the busiest time of my year winds down I am often asked, how do you prioritize? I once joked that I write all my clients names on golf balls, throw them into the air and whichever falls on my head first will get my attention. That may have been true early on in what I now refer to as ‘my calling’, yet surprisingly I am have become more organized. Adult like, even. I guess I can thank the skyrocketing gas prices of the summer of 2008.

When my associate, Ryan, and I met for our 2008 strategy, I came up w/the brilliant idea to plan the schedule according to neighborhoods. This may mean that my Cape Elizabeth Tuesday client may have to move to Thursday, the same day as another Cape client, or vice versa. Similar negotiations were made for Falmouth, West or Foreside, South Portland and Portland neighborhoods. I began to plan. It was working! Then, upon a referral, I acquired a new Cape property; along with the request to have Wednesday as their scheduled date. It seems the couple wanted to enjoy their property on Thursday, their only day off sans children. This would also mean I wouldn’t have to contend with flying soccer balls, badminton birdies or sun worshipping teens. This had my attention. Another plan was formed. I met w/the other Cape clients to have Wednesday be ‘Cape Day’. I was thinking ahead.

Enough about me. What of those people that caused me to remain silent? What was it that they wanted? Alliums!

The first person was at a nursery in the Spring asking for those big purple lollipops she was seeing everywhere. The person she asked did not understand so radioed another associate. When it was determined that Alliums were the key she was led to the bulbs. Alas, not available. Now is not the time. Alliums are purchased in the fall.

Within a day or two I visited yet another garden center. This time a young man entered with a shopping list, with alliums # 1 (was it alphabetical?) Again, sent to a bin of bulbs until one associate explained that these were only available for fall planting. This particular customer had another motive for his quest. Aesthetics aside, he wanted to keep deer at bay. Chives was the associates recommendation. A practice I follow myself.

It is known by some that Alliums, ornamental onions, have become one of my favorite garden elements. Their sizes, shapes and even colors vary. I tend to navigate towards the large purple orbs that seem to hover above the rest. Many varieties bloom before many of the companion plants that skirt the base.

Alliums are best planted among perennials whose foliage will flourish about the time those of the allium wane. In fact, in most cases the tropical low growing foliage browns before it blooms. The alliums I grow stand tall long after the bloom is off the bloom. They dry to a unique ball of mini spikes. In the dry state they remind me of the ‘Sparklers’ that was so much part of my childhood 4th of July celebrations, without the fear of burning or the bright light. If this is not a look that pleases you, simply cut the stalk. The foliage will ultimately disintegrate. If stalk is left as is, ultimately it is laughingly easy to pull out when ready. An easier and more powerful perennial you may not find.

As far as the chives. I wrote last year of my celebration of saved hostas. Four years I struggled. The deer, well, what can I say? Last spring I installed chives between the hosta. Not one of these succulents were touched. Each week the circular bed where my experiment percolated was approached with apprehension. Would it work? The succulent spikes of the aromatic herb worked well with the broad leaf hosta. Miniature purple pompoms offered color while the other plants waited to display theirs. At seasons end a dance of joy shook the small landscape. I thought Ryan was going to quit on the spot, but soon understand, though he opted out of the dance.

Chives can be planted now. For the alliums, you will have to think ahead.

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
June 23, 2009
Hey! Check the next post, Spring Pictures by KCB, for some great KCB pictures that really complement this post!

1 comment:

David said...

Yes, alliums are great. There is a wide variety of them too. Not all of them are globe-shaped. Two of my favorites are allium bulgaricum and allium moly. The bulgaricum are tall, with little hanging bell-shaped flowers, while the moly have pretty yellow flowers looking somewhat like anemone. They are both long-bloomers.