Re: [gardeners] rudbeckia

penny x stamm (
Wed, 5 Jul 2000 00:53:57 -0400

Anne, last night's heavy rain made a spectacle out of the big plant -- 
the stems all collapsed in a circle around the stem, with those huge 
dark yellow flowers looking up at me like an innocent child...  
Remember, it sits alone at the empty end of the veggie garden, so 
there was nothing which could have helped support it.  I guess I'll 
have to take a photo, for it does look as if a light footed elephant 
had stepped on it!  The smaller plant remains erect and in bud.  
Still don't know where they came from...

Jimmie's always had a plant infirmary -- he refuses to throw away a
half dead bush. Maybe it will come back, sez he.  Well, this spring 
it was almost empty, so I decided to utilize the in-ground water 
system available there to house my left-over annuals, just in case
I needed one or another to fill in an unfortunate flower in one of the
beds which had met its maker...  but the ground there has never
been worked  -- it's heavy and lumpy.  In the middle stands an
ornamental plum tree, a dark, dull but handsome spring bloomer.
Three weeks ago I walked by and saw that ALL the branches were
swept to one side, as if a wind machine had sculptured the tree! 
The trunk was upright. My cousin's boy got a hold of his mother's
'mousse', and did the same thing with his own hair one day -- it
all stood straight out to the left of his head .  .  So I stood there
with my
trusty pruners and a big garbage pail, and chopped 3 ft off of every
single branch!  All of a sudden the tree came back to shape, a bit
miniaturized but upright.  Aaah....   now I could stick in those extra

The problem was 2-fold:  first, I NEVER just 'stick in those seedlings'. 
What's worth doing at all is worth doing well, etc., etc.... secondly, I
have been forbidden to bend.  So Jimmie said he would do the 
planting, only he had no idea in this world how many little plants
there were.  And he has no instinct for planting. If they gave one, he
would get the Olympic medal for hodge-podge horticulture.  "What 
do you mean 'upright'..?" "It's LEANING BACKWARDS, Jim!" "What
do you mean 'nearer'?  Nearer to what?"  "What's the difference if 
it's a little too deep?" "What's the difference if it's a little too
"I DID press the soil in!" "No, Jim, you only pressed the front." 
On and on...

It started with the mulch. He wanted to rake it aside, only he rakes
too hard and removes soil with every stroke. That makes the mulch
not re-usable, because all the weeds will now prosper in the new found
earth!  OK, Jim, why don't you rototill the mulch under, and soften up
this horrible soil..?  And that's just what he did.  Absolutely the worst
suggestion I have ever made in my whole lifetime -- for it was cedar
mulch, and thousands of strips of wood remained intact. Now he had
to remove a full wheelbarrow of soil since he had changed the 
contours, and he has two bad shoulders, and two bad knees (we
won't talk about the hips...)  He managed, but slowly. Then we relay
the soaker hose on top of the soil. "Why?" he demands, "we can lay
it in later, after I plant." "No, Jim, there will be no way on earth to 
thread that hose thru the many plants once they are in..." "I can do
it!" "No, no one could do it." 

And we started with the planting.  It was abnormally hot and humid
out there, and I would have given anything for a thunderstorm...  
My jobs were to trim the individual seedlings and to point with a
4-ft bamboo stake exactly where I hoped he would plant them.  We
got the coleus in and then he quit for the day.  Next day we did the
impatiens.  3rd day it was the begonias. So far, for this one 
God-forsaken flower bed, we had spent 8 hours . . .    Today we 
were up to the blue ageratum, the final job. And it was obvious that
Jimmie had changed his mind about being a hero -- he growled
and groaned and griped until I suggested that he put away the
heavy equipment, and go take a bath. I would do the ageratum. 
How..? Hmmnn, well, provided that I could get down on the ground, 
I figured that I could plant the 18 inch border working sidesaddle.
I had said that this job should have been a lark -- you just go
chung!chung!chung! and they are all in!  Gotta get a rhythm to it .. ..
The only thing I forgot was the problem of getting back up to my

In all fairness, it's true that we all march to a different drummer. 
Jim's computer went haywire, so he methodically diagnosed the
problem to be a bad internal modem, opened up the machine, 
replaced the modem, and voila!  All fixed.  Now I could not have
done that...

Penny, zone 6 NY

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