A Gardenerís Diary

by Norman ToddFebruary 2003



Happy New Year.My resolution is that I will have a happier garden this year.Itís a bit inclement to do much about it right now but as soon as the days start to lengthen Iím really going to get on top of things. One rule will be ĎNo Weedsí - especially in the gravel driveway.I wish someone had given me another hoe for Christmas.A hoe is a gardenerís best friend.One yearís seeds are seven yearís weeds.There is going to be some generic cleansing around here.ďHerb RobertĒ is to be exterminated.So will that darn ivy that we planted 20 years ago and is now 80 feet high in the Douglas Fir.And all that is needed for that dry area where we lost a few rhododendrons last year is a simple extension on the irrigation line Ė half a dayís work and less than a hundred bucks.Iíll scare the bejabbers out of that half acre of lamium Ė make things a lot tidier.I must get a new pruning saw Ė that old one wouldnít cut tofu.Itís crazy having these fruit trees and so little fruit.Iíll continue this list later and keep it posted on the fridge but I hear the call that dinner is ready.



Some parts of the garden are truly spectacular Ė as good as Butchartís.I just need to get on top of those weeds - unfortunately some have already seeded.Iíll go and buy three hoes and leave them at strategic places where I can wield them savagely whenever I see a weed.However, some of the hellebores and snowdrops and cyclamen seed themselves so one has to be a little restrained with the hoe.The lecture last week by that Martha Stewart paragon gave me some good ideas.She really was a show-off, although quite modest about it; and she doesnít have deer.She did say she had fenced her place but she must have a pile of money.And she said she usually only bought only one of any new plant and propagated ittout suite.Iíve got to get some order in that greenhouse of ours.Itís too bad that erythronium take so long from seed.I could divide these English primroses.They do bloom for a long time and cover quite a bit of ground.My soil is pretty poor though.What I need is more humus.Still some of these Alpines seem to grow on nothing.Pity we have so much shade.



Itís pretty hot and there is still a lot of deadheading to do.Still, they say that rhododendron seed production does not take up much energy. Deadheading sure does. If only we could get a good downpour Ė not a drop of rain for three weeks. These cutesy weather forecasters on TV make me sick. They are merely flunkies for the Tourist Bureau.A cloud in the sky is as welcome as the West Nile virus.They donít seem to realize that the hanging baskets need watering twice a day in this hot touristy weather.I forgot to fertilize them last week.Too bad I spilt all the fish fertilizer at the back door Ė quite a stink although the weeds loved it.Iíll need to get some more fertilizer. The humming bird feeders are just crawling with ants and I see quite a lot of wasps.Itís going to be a bad year for them.No one will say anything about wasps until the Saanichton Fair Ė most of the tourists are gone by then.Too bad I broke the handle on the hoe.I could hear the weeds laughing at me.I really donít know why people put benches out in their gardens.I donít think Iíve ever sat on the one under the arbutus.It took two weeks to do all that stonework to make it an attractive place to meditate and admire the glory of the garden and now it needs a coat of urethane.There was a guy on the radio talking about low maintenance gardening.He was just like all these financial advisers.If they knew how to make money they wouldnít need to be writing books or taking a fee to talk about it on the radio.I hate having to lug hoses all over the place.I was blaming the deer for the missing flower heads on the geraniums but I now think it happened when I yanked that hose across the bed.



I must put a few cuttings in the propagator.Some years Iíve had roots on them by now.Still as dry as the Gobi desert.I spend all my time at the end of a hose.Iíll need to get some new ones. With all these leaks only half the water comes out the nozzle.Too late for this year but Iíll look out for sales.There seems to be a new crop of weeds every week.I wonder why the deer eat prickly things like roses and poisonous things like kalmia but they donít touch Herb Robert.I notice they have had a go at my big euphorbia mellifera.Their tongues must be glued to their lips with latex.If I so much as touch it, I break out in an agony of a rash.I sure miss my trusty scuffle hoe.A shovel is not nearly as wieldy.The Himalayan blackberries have canes as thick as the shovel handle and if I donít get them dug out we will soon not be able to get up the driveway.Still, blackberries with brown sugar with the morning cereal is pretty good fodder.Canada is certainly multicultural and I know why we are such a great melting pot. Plants and people just take root here. Scotch broom and English Ivy and Himalayan blackberries think this is paradise.There is all this push on to grow native plants but I canít keep cornus canadensis alive for more than a year. Maybe I should give up gardening and become an advisor.



Pity itís not gardening weather.My son dressed up in a Santa Claus suit on Christmas Day and marched in with a staff in each hand covered with a shopping bag and a red ribbon.He shouted, ďHoe, hoe.ĒAnd that is what they were.Pity there were not three of them.ďHoe, Hoe, Hoe.Ē sounds better.