Archive for Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Taking patience with a garden

August 22, 2001

Gardening in the summertime is like baking bread in the wintertime it just goes with the season.

And like baking bread, gardening teaches us patience.

After all, there is only a two-to-three-month planting window in Kansas the time plants have to be settled into the ground before summer's heat takes over.

And after that, most planting ventures will have wait at least until fall, and more likely until spring.

For me, this has been a year of gardening opportunity. In March, Fred built a raised garden at the front of our house. It's about 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep, and at first didn't seem so large.

Until it came time to plant and plant and plant.


The filling of it started early, with hardy plants such as ornamental cale and stella d'oro daylilies. In April the canna bulbs went in. These were brought over by June Lorance, a fellow gardener and brother-in-law who lives a couple miles south from us on County Road 25.

As the weeks, or weekends rather, when there was time to plant, went by, in went more perennials, including Missouri evening primrose, sedum, delphinium, astilbe, three medium-sized rose bushes, purple coneflowers, hen and chicks, and the hardy gaillardia. To fill in after some of the perennials finished their blooms, annuals, including as vincas, salvia and coleus went in.

It wasn't long before the new flower bed's best quality came to light the dirt filling it had been hauled in from the Kansas River bottoms. This soil has a fine texture, and it seems such that would easily allow seedlings to spread their roots. The flowers planted in this soil immediately took off. The cannas now are about eight feet tall and the entire area has been full of blooms since June. The success of the plants isn't because of anyone's green thumb or because they were planted by a particular sign of the moon, unless it was an accident, it's merely from the soil in which they were planted.


Along the east side of the house, where the summer sun grills anything that grows, thrives a row of golden glows yellow chrysanthemum-like flowers on stems about five feet tall. Before these plants burst into bloom they hold a striking resemblance to horseweed. These plants, or their ancestors, once grew in my central Kansas garden. They are amazingly drought-tolerant, and surprisingly, despite their gangly height, wind-resistant. They naturalize by spreading on the ground in the springtime like mums and don't appear to send out unwanted seeds.

In front of the golden glows are more of June's cannas, which turned out shorter because they were planted later and grown in regular soil. And then zinnias and shasta and gloriosa daisies finish that area out.

There are a couple of other beds, one filled mostly with hostas still fairly small that should begin naturalizing next year, and another with ivy, Jacob's ladder, sassafras, columbine, coral bells and begonias that don't appear to be doing so well. My comparative gardening failure in this area was that I did not take the proper time to work with the soil beforehand. It needs to be dug up, tilled and have the proper substances added before next spring's planting.

The old timers had a saying for this that a five-cent plant will prosper if the gardener takes the time to put it in a five-dollar hole. In other words, it takes patience, and at times, more work than we would have dreamed.


But the time to enjoy it is now, because, before we know it, winter's gales will be upon us and summer's gardening will be a remembrance of the past and a thought of the future. The bread baking in the oven will remind us then, that in the changing seasons of life, the best things are often those things for which we have to wait.

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