My home garden is in Monroe, Ohio. Officially in USDA hardiness zone 6a, we still, however briefly, have hit zone 5a lows in winters not to distantly past. The soil in my immediate vicinity is Eden silty clay. In many local developments, the good stuff has been scraped away and sold off as topsoil to some other poor schmuck who also had THEIR upper soil horizons scraped away. Whatever we had upon our arrival has been amended with horse manure, coir, and compost. There is no bed in my yard that couldn’t have been amended some more.

29 January 2013

A little reminder

I know that someone, someday, will be walking around the yard without me (supposing I move, get hit by a bus, etc.) and they will come upon something they want identified (here I beg the indulgence of my readers for what I accept to be a conceit of hopefully minor proportion; that my garden may hold a couple of plants which give a person pause to wonder…). That’s one, of a couple, reasons why I try to keep some record of plants I grow.

You wouldn’t think that I’d have much trouble remembering what plants are in my own garden, especially since I like to label things. I admit that I make things difficult for myself by tending not to label a plant until it has lived through one winter. On the one hand, I avoid the unnecessary time spent making a label for things like the Dracunculus vulgaris (voodoo lily) that refused to arise from the $15 tuber (but I optimistically labeled a newly planted Sauromatum venosum, [also called voodoo lily] last fall- go figure). On the other hand, my pragmatic caution (sounds better than pessimism, what?) leaves me wondering where I even planted the Dracunculus.

A young voodoo lily,  relatively subtle in leaf only. 

Dracunculus vulgaris in bloom.

I've lately been trying to update a spreadsheet that amounts to a personal accessions list for my garden (for the unfamiliar, that's essentially an inventory of plants that one is growing or has grown). Keeping such a list isn’t just my way of indulging an obsessive-compulsive urge, it’s a way to track successes and failures so I can make informed purchases, site plants for optimum growth and ornamental effect, and finally so I can relate sound information about those plants to others.

With that in mind, this (nod to mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies) spreadsheet includes a column with the title "labeled." Ideally, every record would include a “y” in this column, or at least the designation “n/a” (applied to plants no longer with us [Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum ‘Rosa Auslese’, how I miss you!]).

Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum ‘Rosa Auslese’

Unfortunately, the “labeled” column is littered with more occurrences of "?"and "n" than I care to have.  Because, as I’ve already alluded, sometimes I forget what I've planted and where, I can't always put out a label and change the "n" or "?" to "y"(these little things can be so gratifying). What to do, but carry on and see what (or if) things pop where?

So, when I go to plant the next Dracunculus vulgaris (a gardener does not give up after killing only one of anything), I can’t be sure that I’m not plopping it into the same deadly (poor drainage? too exposed/cold? did the bloody squirrels find it?) spot as the last time. Then again, maybe I’ve just somehow missed the foliage of the tuber from 2011, so there’s a chance that when I dig a hole to plant a fresh tuber in what seems like a perfect spot, no labels indicating something hidden and biding its time, I’ll put the spade right through the old one.

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