Deadhead, deadhead, deadhead

  • Recent blooming flowers from the Kachemak Gardener's garden are lillies (pictured), and rosa pimpinellifolia
  • Photos by Rosemary Fitzpatrick

We all think about how we can make the most of our time. So there I was, considering the seed pods rapidly developing on the multitudes of columbine (which are having an excellent season), knowing in my heart of hearts that I really really needed to go out there and deadhead. Want more blooms? Deadhead. But, I find deadheading columbine a tedious chore. Much as I love to garden, this is one task I would like to skip. So I asked myself: Deadhead columbine or eat a slice of buttered toast accompanied by a cup of tea while standing over the kitchen sink? Decisions, decisions. I took my size L out to the columbines with the full knowledge that I will be rewarded with an extraordinary succession of blooms. People, get out there and deadhead.

Word spread fast that the parasitic jaeger was on her nest at Jaeger’s Bog out east. Off we went and observed a pair in full parental mode. Excellent. But the real boon were the wildflowers. Meadow after meadow. Look past the end of your nose as you toil through the day. Drive (walk) in any direction and take in the natural plants that we are graced with. The iris are stunning this year; chocolate lilies; geraniums; lupine; paint brush. All these lovelies. Monet would have been impressed and, I’m sure, created a painting for all time. They are all here at your doorstep, more or less; don’t miss them.

Speaking of the natural world, the hummingbirds have shown up early (at least at my house) and are all over the flowers. It doesn’t seem to matter what color or shape they are, everything from deepest purple to white, the hummers go after them. What a delight. They buzz around my head while gardening; chase each other around; get Jade the Dog’s attention. Much entertainment is to be had from a hummingbird. Keep an eye out, they’re quick.

I’m still staking. There are some stalks of delphinium that have grown outside the fencing that would successfully keep them from toppling over in the wind and rain that just may come. I wrap some string around the original fence and give them the support they need to reach their potential. All of this effort is for the Pacific Giants. These are the delphiniums that can reach over 6 feet tall. I also have smaller ones that shouldn’t need staking. But, as the season progresses, they are looking quite tall and I’m not entirely trusting them to stand on their own. This is their second season and the seed packet was mixed colors. I adore Black Knight, deep purple through and through. But I’m getting used to the mixed colors with a white eye. They are adding lightness to the whole scene and height to the middle of the outside bed. Excellent.

The Miss Kim lilac, when moving with the wind, looks like a lovely lady in a ball gown. This lilac blooms later then the Canadians and the common, last longer and smells stronger. All excellent attributes. The same can be said for the dwarf Korean lilacs. These have been in four years and are flourishing. I love everything about them. They get about 4 or 5 feet tall and are a little wider than tall. At least that’s what the books and labels say. We’ll see how they react to our day length.

I’m still paying the price of scattering one single seed head of Lauren’s Grape poppy throughout the perennial beds. What a mistake. There are millions of them. I continue to pull out the undersized ones, trying to thin to the strongest. This could be a losing battle. Same goes for the digitalis “Foxy foxglove” — everywhere. At least these foxgloves bloom the first year. Usually a foxglove is a biennial, blooming the second year. This should be quite the show if both of these bloom, so I’m not all that dismayed.

Because our sewer line chose this weekend to cease to function I haven’t been able to harvest the spinach that is seeded in with the salad makings. Once spinach decides to go to seed it does so with a vengeance.

I also like to seed in spinach with the potatoes. It usually takes so long for potatoes to show up that the spinach has come and gone before they really need to share much space. It usually works just excellent. But this year the potatoes made an early appearance and I thought the spinach was a no show. Wrong. It is gorgeous. Not going to seed, beautifully shaded by the potatoes, and will be waiting for me when the sewer line is eventually cleared and I can get to work (home ownership ...).

We are eating Royal Burgundy beans from the greenhouse along with cucumbers and basil. I love that greenhouse.

The garden is yielding all the usual greens and the “grands” are delighted with the strawberries that are just starting to ripen. Try telling a 5-year-old that she has to wait for them to get redder. Nope.

The season is young — keep weeding, watering, tending and eating, after all this is why you garden.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.

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