On Planting Perennials

When you begin your new perennial bed, find a wonderful neighbor like Lucy.

Step two. Wander around her yard and ask for a snippet of this and snappet of that. Of course, you have wandered around her yard before, oohing and aahing over greens and blooms and now finally it is your turn to try Russian sage, daisies, thyme, sedum, poppies, blue stars, a grass, and more.

Step three. Stuff roots and dirt and stems into grocery bags or black plastic pots—every garden shed has a stash of those in one spiderwebbed corner.

Step four. Transport via your one set of wheels that carries everything from the weed-eater to the bike to the kitchen chairs. If you are lucky enough to have a relative that lives on a farm, swing by their place and also transport home a bucket or two of rich black gold to enhance the orange clay in which you will be spading.

Step five. Borrow your neighbor’s spade and dig holes. Divvy out black gold accordingly.  

Step six. Empty trunk of assortment of sprigs and leaves and cuttings; arrange and plant to your hearts content.

Step seven. Water liberally. Weed as needed.

Observations: Occasional early morning chats with flowers boost one’s spirit, especially conversations with coffee cup in hand. If a sprig here or there perishes, just toss it. Perennials spread rapidly and fill small spaces quickly. It is wise to leave a few spots so that upon visiting another neighbor one can carry home peonies, chives, and lily of the valley, packing more happiness into another crevice. Or one may find wilted bulbs on the laundry room shelf or in a bucket in the shed. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize them or have no recollection as to where they came from. Plant them. They may turn out to be calla lilies as mine turned out to be. Surprise. The past years experience attests to plants from Lowe’s or other nursery’s costing a lot more and dying quicker than ones from the neighbor; possibly their fine roots aren’t attuned to orange clay or black gold.

Opinions: The first year coddling them along and watching them grow is fun. The second year is more fun, watching green shoots poke brave heads out of cold soil when March winds are still howling.

Warning: Worms may destroy more delicate plants like roses, of which I have no advice on how to deal with such varmints. On the other hand, however, one may receive exquisite happiness from simple green fronds that burst into bloom. Thirdly, one may glean insights into the Master Gardener’s tender planting and pruning which he so lovingly carries out in each fleshy garden.