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Green Acre #478: Die! Die!

Colorful flowers in Prague park in summertime. / iStock photo.

By Stephanie Cavanaugh

IT’S THE BEGINNING of the end. 

This first week in June, plus one or two more depending on the weather, are the last weeks to fidget about with planting with anything resembling ease. 

Behold your mistakes, already apparent. While I’ve heard it said that there are no bad colors in nature, there certainly is bad placement of colors. Sometimes this is not apparent until the flowers open. You’ll have, say, an eye-popping pink where the vision was the soft fluff of a tutu or a swirl of cotton candy. A traffic-cone orange when you had ripe peaches in mind. 

With the new plantings settled in, the errors glare. Ya know what? Yank them out. Give the offenders to a neighbor, stick them in the alley, dump them in the compost. 

Poor little plant never meant any harm, only wanted to live, petals up to the sunshine. 

Go ahead, kill it. 

In the early days tending my own patch, The Prince and I had numerous arguments about keeping plants that were already growing. The previous owner had made a few stabs at horticulture, very few, but uniformly hideous. An example: the aptly named yucca, with its unpleasantly cactus-like leaves out of which grew longlasting stalks of bulbus white flowers that were instantly covered with ants. This was planted right next to the spot where we wanted a dining table. Not a tasty combo. 

But it’s so healthy! said the Prince.

So what! said I.

There followed some back-and-forth. I won. 

With the garden centers still filled with pretty bloomers, take a survey of what’s working and what’s not. Move what you can, ditch what you can’t. 

Caution 1. If you’ve planted seeds or bulbs, have patience. I say this as a reminder to me as well as you. That bare patch planted with summer bulbs might yet be showing little action, but don’t go assuming nothing is happening underground. Another week or so and up they’ll come. That’s what I’m telling myself.

If everything around said patch is already in bloom, and you can’t stand looking at dirt one more minute, get yourself a flat of impatiens or begonias—cheap, colorful, easy to transplant—and top off the bulbs, which will just shove their way up and through when they’ve a mind to. Then you can thin out the impatiens and whatnots, moving them to another needy spot—you know you have one. This is also something I’m telling myself. 

Caution 2. The closer we get to summer, the hotter the days. Those plants that went in early have had time to wriggle their roots around and get acclimated. The longer you wait to move, plant, or transplant, the more care you need to take with watering, particularly if there’s no rain in the forecast. 

Off to get a flat of . . . something. 

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