Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Zone 7 Gardening

April 2007

April is a good time to divide and plant your fall potted chrysanthemums, which hopefully spent the winter in a protected location. Pinch off the tops down to 6 inches. Pinch every month to keep the plants at this height until late July.

For a constant supply of cut flowers, plant your favorites at about 2 week intervals until mid July.

April 26th is John James Audubon’s birthday. In celebration pull out and clean your hummingbird feeders. Also the hummingbirds will appreciate the planting of red or orange flowers, such as beebalm(Monarda).

Since I replaced one of my gutters last fall and never disposed of the old one; I plan to attach the old gutter to an outside porch railing. Then I will add soil, seeds and small plants to the gutter. This will let me grow small flowers and vegetables out of reach (hopefully) of deer, groundhogs, and rabbits. If I’m real ambitious; I will install a cheap drip irrigation system along the inside of the gutter. I’m dreaming of impatiens, begonias and pansies this summer which won’t be gobbled up.


Sat. night I returned from a 2 week trip in Shanghai, China. While there I visited the Shanghai Botanical Gardens which was packed with visiting Chinese school groups and Asian tourists. The 200 acres include enormous green houses displaying tropical and succulent plant environments. The Garden had many outdoor areas. I visited the grove of different species of magnolia trees, a section with masses of blooming Azaleas planted along a creek, a collection of blooming peonies, and a pensive medicinal garden. There were ponds and a river. Other sections featured roses, bamboo, maples, camillias, and osmanthus. Their collection of orchids is considered the best in China. There is a Bonsai Garden with 100s of bonsai. I needed days to view the entire Botanical Garden.

But the next day I traveled to the town of Suzhou, which is often called the “Garden City” of China. This ancient city was built 2,500 years ago and is famous for its classical gardens and is considered one of the earliest birthplaces of Bonsai art. Of the sixty gardens several are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. One of these which I visited the Humble Adminstrator’s Garden is the largest at 12.85 acres and considered one of China’s four most famous gardens.

Chinese garden landscapes consider rocks and water as important as the plants. The gardens interact with the wandering rooms of the home. Windows are placed to frame a view of an organic weird rock, a graceful tree, or blooming flower. Even in a small garden, such as The Master of the Nets Garden, the inner garden of 660 square feet contains a pond surrounded by a covered walkway, a small bridge, and pavilions and is decorated with trees, flowers and rocks. I saw a blooming wisteria which flowed over the roof and was supported by its ancient 2 foot in diameter mangled and twisted trunk.