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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #188 --- We spend a delightful afternoon working on a photography talk
September 20, 2014

Summer seems to have taken a, hopefully, brief holiday and that has both its good points and its bad points. It’s cold out there in the morning but it’s easier to engage in heavy physical chores. It has been a week of pleasant times, physically demanding times and the usual frustrations. Let’s deal with the frustrations. Squirrels! The walnuts are ripening and that’s attracting every squirrel in town. In their desire to have a balanced diet they leave the walnuts momentarily and scour the garden for easier and tastier fare. Sitting on the flat rail that tops a 2 M (6.5ft) fence I discover the vegetable buffet that the tree rats have laid out for themselves. Two of my nicest Eggplant are presented in a neat row with several tasty morsels of each, already enjoyed . There is another on the ground that may have been a reject from the buffet. I keep adding water to the container that they are growing in, hoping that I will still have some to pick when I have time to make my Eggplant Fritters. Apparently the tree rats are satisfied with the raw variety.

Moving from frustration to hard work. The berm across the back of the yard has needed attention for some time. The wild Blackberries have escaped from the neighbours yard and colonized it. They are actually amazing plants, bending their long arching canes over to the ground and then rooting at the tips to establish a new colony. I did enjoy a few fruit from them this summer but not as many as the squirrels did. Gloves and long sleeved shirt on, it was time to tackle them. There was a myriad of other unwanted growth covering the under story of the berm. A couple of flowering shrubs that I had planted a few years ago had become unruly or dead. Both had to be dealt with. The massive clean up started on the cool days and having filled many brown compost bags, about a third of the berm was cleaned up and that revealed the ugly behind it. I knew that Manitoba Maple was back there but discovered just how big it had become. It was off to the rent all for a chainsaw and the attack was begun. After hauling a huge truck load to the dump it was back to seize a shovel and the chainsaw and start to work extracting enough of the stump to stop this weediest of trees from resurrecting itself. That was the really hard work but it is done and I can contemplate a whole new space to build a garden in. I have always imagined it as a dense shade woodland space with Trillium etc. pushing up through a deep forest mulch. That theoretically should be a low maintenance restful space.

We’ve done the frustration and the physical labour so, saving the best for last, let’s recount the most pleasant afternoon. I give a lot of talks and seminars to a variety of groups. I have been asked to do one about good garden photography, this winter. I needed to work on that now because it will be difficult to get those photos in February. There is lots to learn about the vagaries of light and the photographer’s attempts to catch it at just the perfect moment.
I spent a delightful afternoon shooting some 160 shots of a single Rose bloom. The first picture is just the snapshot you can take of such a bloom as you discover it in the garden. Over the next few hours we waited for the angle of the light to change and we manipulated it in a variety of ways to get the second photograph of exactly the same bloom. Doing this and many other similar photo shoots gives me the material I need to make all of my presentations interesting and informative. Don’t hesitate to contact me if any group that you are a member of, is looking for a fascinating, professional presentation on any number of garden related topics.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Vivian Asks? I want to bring in a few of my smaller potted plants that have been outside all summer, but I don't want the creepy crawlers to keep me company all winter in my house. Is there an easy way to kill the bugs in the soil without killing or repotting the plants? My oxalis (spelling doesn't look right) and my angel-wing begonias do well indoors, but I hesitate to just bring in the smaller pots because of the bugs in the soil. Any quick-fix solutions??

Ken Answers! You have spelled Oxalis correctly. Some bugs love the damp, so letting your pots get as dry as possible will reduce their numbers. Alternately you can soak the soil so that the water is running out the drainage hole. Do this with an insecticidal soap solution and that will kill off a few others. Do the soak and then the dry. You may have to bring them in to get them very dry at this time of year.

Mandy Asks? Where do you buy your Anemone Hupehensis ,ever since I first saw them I really want to buy some, and I am not worried about spreading, so much earth to cover so little time.

Ken Answers! I think any good garden centre should stock these. Anybody you see growing them would happily give you a piece. We compost a fair bit of it here in the spring. Mine has been in the garden long enough that I forget where it came from.

Huberte Asks? There is a lot of moss on the lawn, I mean a lot. There is moss from the sunny areas to the shady areas. We cut the lower branches of the trees, to open the lawn to the sun, to reach the grass. This fall ,I put a lot of lime on the lawn. Is there anything else I should do to get rid of the annoying moss ? The moss is killing all the grass. Thank you.

Ken Answers! The best thing is to learn to prefer moss to grass but that's not always easy. There are lots of things that can cause the moss to compete successfully with your grass. Here's a great web site with lots of information to help you. moss

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Whitby ON

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