Once again, the Propagator welcomes gardeners near and far to display their prize winning pumpkins, disclose their secret recipes, and confess their gardening sins.
1. Nesting materials. At a recent trip to the local Grange, a coop that offers farm and garden supplies, this natural nesting material caught my eye. I bought another suet cage for my nesting offerings. Further research suggests that I can also offer dried twigs, pine needles, feathers, moss, and dead leaves. String, human hair, and plastic are all potentially dangerous to birds and should be avoided.
2. Bat house. The neighbor who has been helping us with our riparian restoration project brought over a Fish and Wildlife bat house that he has been unable to find a good location for in his garden. According to him, the bathouse should be positioned about 15 ft up on a tree trunk without too many branches around, facing south for maximum warmth. An appropriate tree trunk has been identified and, fortunately, J is as enthusiastic about supporting wildlife as one could possibly wish, so it’s all a matter of time before we drag out the ladder and try to figure out how to get it affixed without breaking any bones.
3. Ground cover propagation. Last year witnessed the frantic acquisition of as many different varieties of stonecrop as could be located at area nurseries. Chartruse, orange, blue, burgundy, aqua, chocolate; spiky, scalloped, rosettes, scales – one of each was purchased. The understanding was that they would be propagated and that their many offspring would supply color, texture, weed suppression at the margins of the perennial beds. And yet little has been done to advance this plan as of yet. It is true that a few cuttings were successful rooted in a pot, but many more were casualties to the as yet unidentified digging animal that leaves little depressions here and there in its quest for – roots? grubs? nuts? Sometimes these depressions are painfully close to the base of a plant, suggesting the possibility of damage. I am uncertain how concerned I should be, particularly as there seems very little to be done. The cautionary tales of other gardeners who have waged war against the animals that interfere with their plantings have met here with a receptive audience.
4. Gardening books. I am currently reading The American Gardener by William Cobbett. According to the introduction, he was an Englishman who spent a substantial amount of time in the States, became convinced that Americans were ignorant with respect to gardening and generally inclined to dismiss it, which he attributes to the devaluation of small spaces on a continent with vast tracts of “unclaimed” (by European-Americans) land. So far, I am impressed by the writing and the arguments offered in favor of the techniques he prescribes. While I do not plan to begin double-digging, I am definitely a proponent of living fences, whose advantages (particularly as a deterrent to marauding boys) he persuasively itemizes.
5. New seeds. These arrived in the mail, the product of an impulsive online buy. Bird’s Eye Gillia and Datisca cannabina, both of which I have had on a very long list of indispensible additions to the plant palette for some time. Now it’s time to learn how to grow plants from seed. So far, my success rate has been abysmal. I also find myself in the awkward position of having lost access to the space I was previously using for indoor propagation, without having identified an alternative or built the long-desired greenhouse. I am attracted to the option of sewing seeds into pots oudoors or possibly in a cold frame. Have you had success with that approach?
6. Kangaroo fern. This lovely specimen was purchased at a plant shop in town. I have been watering it thoroughly whenever the pot feels light and it has rewarded me for my vigilance by extended its furry feet, from which new fronds emerge. My understanding is that it will eventually encase its entire pot with its feet, at which point I presume that it will be difficult or impossible to transplant to a more aesthetically pleasing container. So I should probably see to that sooner than later.