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Dishin' the dirt from the garden and beyond

Memorial Day weekend means busy time for gardeners

It is Memorial Day weekend. It may be one day away, but already on my mind. So many things to do! My peas are coming up nicely and we had a bit of fresh spinach on pasta last night, but the REAL planting starts on Saturday.

I have almost 100 square feet of garden that has yet to be turned, raked and planted. To many people it seems like a chore, but to me it is heaven. When the sweat beads up and dusty soil sticks to my forehead like flour on a freshly greased baking pan, I’m happy! (That’s why I keep a bandanna in my pocket.)

I’ll be stopping at the garden center on Friday. I’ve planned on spending about $100, but when the harvest comes in, I know the food savings will stack up. If each tomato plant yields 6 - 10 pounds of fruit, and you need about 1 pound per pint of canned tomatoes, I can hope for about a hundred pints from the 12 tomato plants I will be purchasing.

Oh optimism! In my mind, I’ll see several gallon bags of Brussels sprouts, roasted and canned red peppers, beets, pickles, squash, peas... The freezer will be packed come September.

Besides dreaming and planting, I’ll be harvesting rhubarb. The printed version of Taste section today had some great recipes. I’m going to try pickling some stalks (and tasting a rhubarb cocktail as the cans rest).

Then there is grilling, car shopping, placing flowers on graves of loved ones, fishing, mowing, the farmers market. I’m sure Sunday night’s Epsom salt-laced bath will feel great.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Link to rhubarb story:

Link to grilling recipes:

Deciding to cut a poor performing shrub

I gave the spirea a fighting chance. For five summers, I waited for the three shrubs to fill out with dense dark green foliage and prolific displays of flowers as promised by the nursery tag description. But every year, after producing a smattering of pathetic white flowers in June, the foliage is sparse and spindly and the plants look downright sickly for the rest of the season. And even when I've fertilized them.

Every year, I make a mental note  to dig up the scraggly shrubs and fill that precious sunny spot with something beautiful. But it never happens.

This weekend, I’m finally hitting the garden centers on a search for a spirea replacement: weigela. Ever since I planted a bed of diminutive “Minuet” weigelas by my front entry many years ago, I’ve been a big fan of the trumpet-shaped deep pink flowers, nice shape and rich purplish foliage.

For my new trio of shrubs, I’m looking for plants that produce pretty flowers in spring or rebloom several times a summer. And I have to choose a variety that won’t grow taller than 4 to 5 feet - so the mature plants won’t block the lower level windows.

Decisions, decisions.  Should I go with something from the Wine Series, such as ‘Wine & Roses', which boasts rosy-pink spring flowers mingled with dark burgundy foliage- and reblooms in the summer? Or try ‘Ghost’ with its dark reddish-pink flowers against ghostly iridescent buttercream foliage? I’ll bring my list of favorite weigelas to the garden centers and hope they will have plenty of stock to look over.

Are you replacing under-performing shrubs?  What are some of your favorite flowering varieties?

Photos: Spring Meadow Nursery

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