Friday, August 5, 2011

my surrender to the knockout

The garden has been sort of uneventful lately. The tomato production is slow; but I’m harvesting a bumper crop of jalapenos and have several bell peppers ripening. The basil, parsley, and cilantro are doing well too. I’ve spent a lot of time watering, as we’ve had record heat for weeks now.

Overhauling the Iris bed by my mailbox has been the current focus of my gardening energy. The Bermuda grass had practically taken over and the area was looking very unkempt. After hours of weeding and edging, the planting bed is starting to look good again. I've decided to add some knockout roses, a river pebble border, and pine straw mulch.

Knockout roses always seemed like such a horticultural cop-out to me that I’ve never considered planting them at my house before. But then I saw them on deep discount at Home Depot and thought, why wouldn’t I want something that’s low-maintenance and blooms half the year? So I bought three double knockouts, for only $15!

These knockouts will not have tightly bound blooms full of heavenly fragrance on long stems for cut flower arrangements. But they will bloom throughout the hottest, driest part of the year with nary a chemical application. All I'll have to do is cut them back once a year and it's the low-maintenance, inexpensive attributes that have finally won me over.

The pebble border fills in the newly-cut edge and I hope will be a barrier to the Bermuda grass. If nothing else, it will make it easier to spray the Bermuda with herbicide as it creeps into the planting bed. I’ve had a chance to try out several natural herbicides and will weigh-in with my results on a future blog posting.

I think my grandfather would be tickled that not only have I planted his Iris in the bed, but with the addition of the roses it will be almost identical to the planting bed he tended for so long at his mailbox (which is now my mom’s mailbox). Now if only I can keep those roses happy through the dog days of summer!

[Pictured is of one of my favorite plant and color combinations, Verbena bonariensis and ‘Veterans’ Honor’ Hybrid Tea Rose.]

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