There are a lot of projects in the garden that I never seem to get to, even these days when there's arguably more time available to focus on such tasks. Recently, I launched two such projects without any forethought about what I was getting myself into, and my husband initiated another one. Once again, I didn't take "before" photos, although I scoured my digital files to come up with what I could.
The first project involved clearing an area that was infested with asparagus ferns and their nasty bulbous roots. I inherited this problem with the garden and had previously only chipped away at the ever-expanding ferns. Some prior owner apparently decided that asparagus ferns were a good way to cover a lot of ground fast - and added dozens of the plants throughout this garden. Admittedly, they're evergreen, produce berries for the birds, and can tolerate dry conditions that even succulents can't handle. However, the berries are toxic to cats and dogs, and birds spread the plants everywhere. They also produce masses of bulbous roots, which mingle with the roots of more desirous plants, making them difficult to remove. I previously removed large masses of them in front of our mimosa tree to make room for other plants, a process that took days. (It felt like weeks.) I personally feel that real estate sales should be required to list asparagus ferns as hazardous substances.
|Removal is a long, slow process. Experts recommend removing all bulbous roots, as well as any berries.|
While I was working on that project, my husband started one of his own, into which I got sucked. You may recall that, after years watching it decline, we removed our mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) late last year. After negotiation, my husband agreed to replacing the mimosa with a Ginkgo tree but, with the mimosa's massive trunk still in place, we needed to clear a spot for it.
|The tree service cut the mimosa tree's stump as close to flush with the surface of the soil as they could manage without damaging the hedge behind it or destabilizing the slope that plummets down just beyond that hedge|
My husband decided to cut back the remaining trunk further so we could relocate a nearby mass of Agapanthus to clear a space for the new tree.
|He dug out soil surrounding the stump and used a chainsaw to slice it up|
|After repairing the chainsaw mid-way through the process, this was what the area looked like when he finished cutting back the stump|
His next step was to remove the boards originally placed on diagonals around the mimosa tree, replacing them with new boards to level that area for planting.
|When that was done, he added 9 cubic feet of top soil purchased from a big box store|
Then he proceeded to remove the large clumps of Agapanthus you can see on the left in the previous photo. That's when I got involved.
|Having previously done this myself, I know there's no way to dig up well-established Agapanthus clumps without damaging a lot of the bulbs. Many of these went straight into the green bins but I put aside a lot of them to see what I could save.|
|It works well but it's still time-consuming|
|One of many trugs filled with roots|
When I'd removed what I could, my husband added three more cubic feet of top soil and yesterday I dug in planting mix and compost, removing more asparagus fern roots as I went. Our native soil is very sandy so I'm hoping that the additives, well mixed, will provide a good foundation for the new tree.
|This is what the area currently looks like. I replanted some of the Agapanthus bulbs I'd cleaned up here and in the area I showed earlier.|
|I've got eight or nine more bulbs but, unless I find a spot for them somewhere else in the garden today, I'm going to put them on the street as another of my giveaways|
Until the Ginkgo biloba 'Autumn Gold' (ordered yesterday!) arrives, further action is on hold on this project. Yet, still in garden clean-up mode, on the fly I decided to tear out an overgrown mass of peppermint geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) I'd managed to ignore for a long time.
|This photo from April 2020 is the best "before" picture I could find. The peppermint geranium was planted below and around the pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana) in the background on the right.|
|I took sixteen small cuttings of the Pelargonium to root should I be unable to find anything more interesting to plant below the pineapple guava|
Now, the main issue is finding plants to fill the vacant spots. I made my first trip in over two months to my local garden center yesterday, mainly to pick up planting mix but I took a spin to see what plants are available. There were a lot of the usual early spring options but I didn't get excited about much other than a Banksia spinulosa. In another month I should be immunized and expect I'll feel better about wandering further afield in search of plants.
All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party