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  • Writer's pictureKate

Get your hands dirty! Then wash them.

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

I am writing this blog post outside. OUTSIDE! Do you hear me? Can you believe it?! I continue to be extremely grateful that the weather has been so beautiful here in New Jersey. We have had a few gloomy days here and there, but really, I can't complain at all. This is my view as I write today.

Not bad, right? Yes, the pool is open. J. always opens it pretty early-usually on April 1st. Truth be told, I don't mind. I would rather look at the pool without the cover. Have I mentioned I have two cute Golden Retrievers who love to swim? Yeah. Keeping them out of the pool, especially when it is at its yucky, leafy, dirty best, is definitely a challenge.

I have found myself spending most of my days recently, out in the yard puttering. Cleaning things up, tidying, spreading mulch, moving things here and there. Anything to keep me busy and keep me outside. Oh, I also pick up dog poop. Lots and lots of dog poop. See above about two really cute Golden Retrievers.

Back to the garden. My most recent project has been trying to eradicate Mugwort from our property. It has taken over primarily behind our pool on a hill that houses the pool waterfall. As discussed in an earlier blog post, that stuff continues to be a monumental pain in the butt. I think I am making some headway though. I've spent many hours up on the hill pulling the weed that seems to grow from runners under the soil. I believe I have read that they actually grow from rhizomes. When I pull them, I pull as much of the underground runner as I can and sometimes eventually get to the rhizome/taproot. It's incredibly satisfying! Am I the only one out there who kind of likes weeding?

I knew I needed to start filling that area in with more plants to try and keep the Mugwort at bay. J. was nice enough to dig up some very large Miscanthus (no easy feat) that I wanted moved from one area in our landscape. He broke up most of the clumps into more manageable chunks (free plant material!) and I started dotting them up on the back of the hill. I dug lots of daylilies out from an old unprotected garden we have that used to surround a pond and they went in between all the miscanthus. I've mulched part of that area already but still have quite a bit more to do. I'm hoping that will help keep the weed contained-or at the very least, for the love of all things holy, I hope it at least slows it down a bit so I can keep up!

J. transplanted quite a few Spiderwort as well. They aren't my absolute favorite but he really likes them. They spread quite a bit more than I would like but honestly where we have placed them I think that will be a good thing. A little closer to the pool edge I planted some 'Vision Violet' Hardy Geranium that I hope will spread into a nice little ground cover. I have quite a bit of Hardy Geranium in my Vermont garden and have grown to like it quite a lot. I figured we would give it a go here in New Jersey as well. Keep your fingers crossed it likes it here too!

Another quick project I did was to plant some Alyssum in front of a paver wall that contains a raised garden bed. These are near our outdoor fire pit and I planted Alyssum there last year and it seemed to do pretty well. You get invited back, Alyssum!

This variety of Alyssum is called Clear Crystal Lavender Shades. I had done White Knight Alyssum there last year but wanted to try something new this time. I placed them a little closer together than called for but I want them to form a nice, dense clump faster. I like to think the information about spacing on plant tags is more of a general suggestion and not so much a hard and fast rule. Ha!

I'm not sure I've ever had my shit more together for a growing season here in New Jersey. I mean I have nothing but time right now and for me that is more than half the battle when it comes to gardening. I've still got quite a list of things I would like to do and to plant. Coming by plant material may not be easy this season with all that is happening in the world, but I have a few on my wish list and hope to order them and get them in the ground soon.

In the meantime, some old and not so old perennials are starting to break dormancy and offer hope of still warmer days and lush growth. Bulbs are always a beautiful harbinger of Spring, and I am glad I took some time last Fall to get some in the ground and in some containers! Everything in my garden is coloring up and we even needed to have the grass cut today! We are on our way, people. Keep the faith.

I am wishing you all good health, safety, and happy gardening. Go get your hands dirty! Then wash them.


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