Saturday, September 5, 2009

Signs of fall have arrived in East Central Illinois

Despite the unusual respite from heat through August, the early signs of fall are showing their faces. The leaves are changing. The leaves on the Lindens and Honey Locusts have begun to yellow. Even Sugar Maples are starting to turn red.

These are all good signs that I should begin the process of preparing my garden for the winter ahead. What is on the to do list?
  1. Weed and feed the turf (using a winterizing fertilizer to help build the root system)
  2. Remove the weeds in flower beds
  3. Remove the dead leaves/plants from flower beds
  4. Mulch the beds
  5. Turn the compost as often as possible before the freeze

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Unintentional Daphne Durability Test

I've had a Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie') growing in the garden for 3 years now. It started out as a small 1 gallon plant that was killed to the ground in the first unusually harsh winter. That little plant had heart and it grew from the rootstock to about a foot in height. The following year, again harsh, killed the stems back about 4 inches. Since then there has been a beautiful flush of growth and the small beaten and weathered plant has become a beautiful 2.5 foot shrub.

The variegated leaves, the pincushion affect of the branches, the sweet fragrance of the pink flowers, the zone 4 hardiness for the midwest are all great reasons to have this plant in your garden. The one drawback is that this plant is very poisonous. Every beautiful part of it, poisonous. This last bit has led me to attempt to transplant the Daphne to a safer part of the garden out of reach of pets and kids.

It's said that when transplanting you should take care to get as big of a root ball as possible. In Daphne's case, don't transplant at all. This is good information. But in my case the soil did not contain the moisture content neccessary to obtain a root ball...at all. I have moved the plant, watered, and in two following weeks it has lost all of its leaves. I'm going to try to stick with it and see if it can make it through this latest round of unintentional durability testing. The weather has been especially cooperative.

Will try to follow up with more updates as things change. Regardless of how this plant makes it through this transplant. Though historically tempermental, the Carole Mackie Daphne ranks high on my list of durable plants.

Good information about Carole Mackie Daphne can be found here:
Hyland, Bob; Demystifying Daphnes
http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/675.pdf
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