The next area is different, almost like a small farm. Michelle was in charge of providing flowers for Grace Episcopal Church to use on their altar. At the local farmers market there was a vendor who sold cut flowers. She moved
away and no other vendor would take over that job. Michelle decided to expand her garden and provide the flowers. But she needed to do it in a manner that was not as demanding and lower maintenance. To set up the beds she rowed
them like one would a crop, they put down drip irrigation, then covered it with weed plastic that has tiny holes to let in rain. The black color will help keep the soil warm, the moisture in and help keep the weeds out. Later in
the year, as the temperature gets a little too hot she goes back, paints it white with latex paint which reflects the heat so the plants don't cook. Between the rows she puts down oak leaves for several reasons. One, it keeps
her feet clean when raining and it keeps the weeds down. And at the end of the season she pulls the plastic out, tills it all in and adds organic matter to the planting area.
Michelle has great flowers growing. To help establish strong stems she utilizes a netting which trains the flowers to grow up through the horizontal netting. Especially if the plants are going to be tall they may tend to flop
over in heavy rainstorms. As the plants grow, move the netting up so they'll stay straight and strong. When cutting, cut the long stems then put them in a floral preservative, something that will prevent bacteria growth. A
little Clorox, even a lemon lime soda will help. And, it works.
We get a lot of questions on our web site about continuous blooming flowers. How is this accomplished? Michelle believes it's essential to plant every 2 weeks. She starts her seeds in a greenhouse, then sets them out every 2
weeks. It's the only way to have fresh flowers from May to November. Richard thinks they're beautiful but must be a lot of work. Michelle agrees, they are, but she really enjoys it.
Richard thanks Michelle. It's been an enjoyable experience but is off to the next garden. Michelle know Richard will enjoy Lynn's garden.
By Kate Karam, Monrovia,
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
We love vines for all the garden problems they help to solve (covering things up, blocking things out, making the kinda ugly, pretty) but climbing vines–whether those that cling by aerial rootlets, or those that need the support of a trellis or other structure–are also a welcome sight for wildlife passing through.
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