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In Your Garden: Garden monsters

Petunia has had it with her present flower bed. She has weeded and weeded and still those darn weeds pop up some other place. Being a novice gardener, she was happy to take any plant people wanted to give her. She should have known there was a problem when Mrs. Sourpuss, not her real name – it has been changed for Petunia’s safety, brought her a big box of pretty blue flowering plants. Mrs. S has a beautiful yard. Not a weed dares show its face in any of her flowerbeds. She always has the newest plants and prides herself on her church bouquets. She certainly isn’t going to let any young newcomer have a better garden than hers. So she brought Petunia a box of creeping bellflower. Now Petunia’s garden is so infested with the darn stuff, she is at her wits end as to how to get rid of it. George to the rescue. He told her the only thing she can do now is to dig a new garden. Then, dig up all the plants she wants to keep, wash all the soil off the roots of each plant and replant them in the new bed. The old bed will have to have several rounds of round up. Regular weed killer just won’t do the job. Creeping bellflower spreads by roots like quack grass, but unlike quack grass it has a tuber deep in the ground. That is why just pulling it or spraying it with weed killer doesn’t totally eradicate the monster.

While most gardeners aren’t as nasty as Mrs. S, do be wary of any plants that are offered in large quantities. That is usually an indication that it is invasive. It’s a good idea to have a separate trail garden to plant anything that you may be dubious about. Keep your seed catalogs and look the plant up if possible. If it is described as easy to grow, multiples, re-seeds readily, or a nice ground cover, think twice about planting it in your permanent bed. It’s probably a thug.

Petunia will have to wait to move her tulips and daffodils until all the leaves have turned brown. The leaves look terrible but they continue to feed the bulb for next year’s blooms. They should only be moved in the fall. The problem is that, in the fall, you can’t find them as all the leaves have died and left no forwarding address. Again, Master Gardener George has the answer. Plant an annual right beside your dying bulb. Say a marigold. In the fall, all you will have to do is dig up the marigold and there will be your ripe, ready to be replanted bulbs. Your flowerbed may look a little odd, but you won’t have to dig the whole plot up to find a tulip. Lilies can be moved in the spring as soon as you see them or later in the summer after they have bloomed and rested for 2 or 3 weeks to recover from the hard work of blossoming. Iris, too, need a bit of recovery after flowering. That is why you move them in August.

Petunia will be digging and moving plants all summer and muttering under her breath as she does about monster plants and their givers.

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