[gardeners] Geraniums

penny x stamm (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Tue, 25 Sep 2001 01:06:30 -0400

I have a bed which until this year held 22 pelargoniums. They
don't like too much water in summer either, so we installed a 
close-off valve in the line.  They got full sun for 6 hours every
afternoon, but they never did make a pretty bed. They would
all flower, but they would also all lean forward to follow the sun,
and it wasn't a good looking sight. 

Several autumns I tried cutting young slips from all the colors, 
air drying them for 24 hrs as instructed, and then sticking 
them in water to root. They would all rot.  Gave it up. Then on
3 different falls, I dug up the plants, cleaned away all the
poor leaves, shook off the soil, and stuck them all into a huge 
black garbage bag, tied the neck and left them in the garage
for the winter (it does not go below freezing.) Came spring
and they would all be dead and shriveled. OK, one fall I 
cleaned them up and changed my mind -- and I threw them 
all on top of my compost pile, out of sight behind a stand of
giant spruce trees, where the sun never reaches. When I
sashayed back there the next spring, I was shocked to find
those pelargoniums GROWING out of the unturned compost! 
Snow, weather at a constant 18 degrees, never fazed 'em --
what probably saved their lives was the total lack of sun, so
there was no freezing and thawing cycle. 

Got tired of a flower bed which never looked like it had a mother,
so this year I did something else. In anticipation, I bought a new
rhododendron last fall, and planted it on one end. Unlikely name
of "Consolini's Windmill". Vivid multicolored flowers, exquisite
green foliage. I wrapped extra water soaker hose around the base,
and it prospered.  My next part of the plan was to go back to the
source this past spring, and buy 3 more of the same, to fill the
flower bed as foundation planting.  The price tag was now $129.00
each, no 2-fers, and I rebelled. No siree, not gonna do it. I'm too
old to get my satisfaction out of it. All right, I took myself over to
the wholesale gardeners' supply and bought 4 dark-blood-red
Nova Zembla rhodies. They had JUST been unloaded off the truck
from the State of Washington, and were much water-deprived. I
said that's ok, I'll take care of 'em.  Two days later came our
catastrophe down in St.Louis, so I placed the four rhodies under
the total shade of a very large weeping cherry tree, ran 125 ft
of hose from the veggie garden automatic outlet and stuck a
sprinkler on the end of it, and placed it facing those sad looking
rhodies, and left them all in the hands of the gods. 

When we returned, they looked a bit better than we had left them, 
after having received water 3 times a day for 12 minutes, so I
left them there for a month. Finally in late July we planted ONE
of them. Within hours it was collapsing -- the sun and heat were
far too much. So I brought out my large beach umbrella saved
for just such a purpose, and erected it every morning for a week. 
That revived the rhodie, and we were in business. 

Of course, having seen the Consolini's Windmill in bloom in my 
own garden, I knew that it was placed way too far away from 
proper view, so it would have to be moved. And one hand's
misfortune became another hand's favor, so I figured that we
would tear out a failing P.J.M. rhodie nearby, and put the Windmill
in there. Hahaha -- just what Jimmie LOVES to do -- hahahaha....
Finally did it behind his back, when my young garden apprentice
started working for me.  Ripped out one, chopped it up, stuffed it 
in a pail, dug up the other, moved it, planted it, put extra water
lines around it, kept it shaded, and it now looks as if it had always
lived there!  Then we planted the rest of the rhodies, and now
when spring comes, there should be a blanket of dark-blood-red
rhodies down there to complement the same blanket 40 ft up
the side of the hill . . . .     whew!  

Which is all great, except that I do miss the pelargoniums. 

Penny, NY


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