Flower Garden Reflections

Pandemic Gardening Thoughts submitted By Ginny von Rueden

Walking and gardening are two of the activities I have enjoyed the most during the last several months of the COVID pandemic.  More than giving me enjoyment, they gave me reprieve from the worries and solace from the disruptions of my regular routines. A love of gardening was a gift from my mother and one I have tried to nurture in my children. My lilacs and raspberries grow from shoots she gave me that have moved with me from house to house over many years. Thanks to her, the joy of working with nature sustains me and gives me hope.

During these difficult times, I am happy and grateful to be able to spend hours toiling in the soil as my garden flourishes from season to season. The scourge of the restrictions and cancellations imposed by the disease denies me from having something to which I can look forward. But my garden never fails me and faithfully gives me something to anticipate with each passing day. And, when tragedy strikes as it did with the falling of our large and ancient willow tree, there are always opportunities for renewal with different plantings and design decisions.  Sharing my garden is my way to connect with others when I take bouquets of flowers as gifts for both happy and sad occasions.  Tea and conversation (or wine and conversation! ) among the blooms lifts my spirits endlessly.

Attracting wildlife is always a goal of any garden designer and I’m so happy that the birds, bees and butterflies are regular visitors in my garden. When I see the bluejays splashing in the fountain, the robins clustering to eat the red berries on the hawthorne tree, the bees buzzing around the sedum, the butterflies hovering on the dahlias, I feel a kinship with them and know I’m helping our planet by providing a safe haven and sustenance for them.

Strolling around town provides more than exercise, it can be a euphoric experience with all the beauty that surrounds me.  Every time I gaze across Marblehead Harbor, I exclaim, “how lucky am I to live here!”.  I am always amazed by the variety of splendid gardens in every nook and cranny of our glorious town and their displays are food for the soul. My phone camera clicks constantly as I wander the streets and alleyways to capture the visual delights all around me. I can almost forget the isolation and suffering we have all experienced as we miss or mourn our loved ones.

I am truly grateful for the beauty of my surroundings which will continue to inspire me when life gets back to “normal”. And I’m ever thankful to call myself a “gardener”.

By Ginny von Rueden

Organic Garden Design, March 2021 DGC Zoom Meeting

Our virtual meetings continue to be well attended, with over 20 Driftwood Garden Club and Cottage Gardeners Club members logged on to Zoom.  DGC Program Co-Chair Sarah Bates introduced our March 2021 speaker Cathy Harragian, who has a background in science. Cathy ran an organic apple orchard for many years and continues to grow woodland medicinal plants.

Cathy’s Organic Garden Design presentation emphasizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to promote the safe, least-toxic solutions to both pest and pesticide problems. Her goal is to create beautiful, low maintenance, low chemical landscapes for all seasons.

A corrugated cardboard band for insect control can traps pests without chemicals.

Cathy recommends leaves or wood mulch over cardboard as a safe method of weed control.

Tedders pyramid traps: Pyramid traps are designed for weevils, but will also trap other insects. In agricultural settings, these traps are used for identifying the time that pests are active. The traps are baited with bits of apples to attract the plum curculio weevils to establish the time that plum curculios are flying to a potential host. A company to source the tedder traps is Great Lakes IPM. www.greatlakesipm.com

One of the tenents of successful organic design is diversity in the garden. Plant the right plant in the right place. Include many native varieties to attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Harragian cited an example of preventative pest control when she planted a host plant as a diversion in the apple orchard. She also recommends interspersing edible plants, such as kale, in the flower garden as a way to increase diversity. 

Good groundcovers for shade in moist soil with good drainage: blood root (Sanguinaria Canadensis), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). For shade areas in medium soil: Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens), American ginger (Asarum canadense). For sunny dry areas: bearberry (Arctostaphylus uva-ursi), Low sedum (Sedum album) Stonecrop (Sedum divergens), Epimedium.

Plant native Bloodroot as a groundcover for spring bloom.

American Ginger makes a good groundcover.

Grow non-GMO plants from seed and preserve heirloom seeds suitable for our New England climate. Seed Resources:

Johnny’s Seeds   www.johnnyseeds.com

Fedco Seeds  www.fedcoseeds.com

High Mowing Seeds  www.highmowingseeds.com