Before one leaves for a vacation, there are so many things to do. For a gardener, the list is endless. Most of us take vacations in July or August. That’s when it is HOT. And humid. Conditions tough for most plants. One has to leave the garden to the care of Mother Nature.
Out of the endless list, I try to prioritize. First selective watering – to the vegetables, roses and hydrangeas. All are in full sun. There will be no vegetables to harvest if the plants dry up. The roses need deep watering and will reward you with the second blush of blooms in September if they are well watered. I have also (selectively) sprayed them with insecticidal soap to keep those pesky Japanese beetles at bay. The hydrangeas will sulk if they dry out a lot. So they get preference over other perennials
I also try to mulch – again selectively. In my garden with 20 planted areas, there never is enough mulch to go around. Again I prioritize – the vegetables, rose and hydrangeas so they lose water more slowly. Add to that, new plantings.
Mid to late summer is when the nurseries (and big box stores) offer a wide selection of plants at bargain prices. If you are like me, you already have succumbed to the allure of the “late season bargain” plants. How do you get them into the ground, well-watered and settled before you leave? It is certainly a challenge.
This year’s selections were some wave petunias, a Jacob’s ladder ‘Heavenly Habit’ for the hint of blue area in the front bed. Seriously, who can resist such a name? A pink Penstemon ‘Mystica’, to be a companion to the Huskers Red I already have. And in honor of the upcoming Olympics, two roses: ‘Tournament of Roses’– pretty peachy pink roses, with a light scent. And ‘Olympiad’ – with it bold red, velvet blossoms. The advantage of buying roses at this time is that (other than the bargain prices) many will still have a few buds and blooms so you know what you are buying.
In past years, I have done these summer plantings and some have not survived. I try to improve the odds by avoiding one mistake – improper planting. So you newby gardeners, make sure that you make the hole for the root ball big enough and deep enough so the whole of it is completely below ground. Do not plant them higher and pile a bunch of soil on the partially exposed root ball and hope the plant will sink in. A good analogy: those crop pants with the exposed ankles may look really trendy in summer – but try wearing them on a freezing day in December. Not so fun. Those exposed roots feel exactly the same way.
Now about the most tedious chore of all – weeding. It is simply not possible to get all the weeds out. I do not like using a hoe – it has rarely worked for me. I come back and find the weed has grown double in size. But it is still a good idea to cut off the tops. Then the weeds will not flower and fruit and spread their seeds before you get back from vacation.
That’s all I have time for – there are still errand to run, and packing to be done. I will try to take some photos while on vacation but do not look for selfies from me. I find the obsession somewhat narcissistic – and my eyes still look so tired.
Leaving for vacation will give my body and my mind time to heal and rest. Leaving my garden to the care of Mother Nature teaches me another lesson – not to be a control freak. I am constantly amazed when I get back – be it a few days or few weeks later – how well the garden looks. If it is night time when I get home from wherever I have gone, it is such a delightful experience next morning to jump out of bed and open the curtains to see how the garden has fared in my absence. Happy Gardening and happy vacationing!!!