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Garden Diary: September 30, 2018 - A Garden Out of Control and How to Tame It

Peacock Gingers and Wandering Jew under the Hibiscus
This was the first year I used fertilizer on my gardens, and I wish I hadn't. I was committed to growing organically, but things didn't seem to be growing quickly enough, so I said "why not?" and applied some mild, timed-release bloom

Then the rains started.

The fertilizer, which was supposed to last "up to 4 months," was washed into the soil within weeks by the heavy rains, and the gardens went WILD. Now I'm stuck with a jungle in the courtyard that I can barely walk through and beds that are so overgrown that some things just won't grow or bloom due to the competition for nutrients.

I wanted to wait until fall to start cutting things back and then take things out in the winter, but it seems fall is never going to get here, and everything just keeps growing. I need to act soon.

The Courtyard

Just a Few of the Potted Plants Ready for Sale in the Courtyard
I started repotting and dividing some plants for sale back in the spring, and now they are growing and taking over the courtyard. I need to have my sale soon to clear some space. i can barely walk in there!

I'm also thinking of selling some "you dig" plants just to get rid of them and prepare myself for moving into a 2-BR apartment. The sister complex where I'll be moving is mostly shaded, so I won't be taking many of my plants with me. Plus, there just isn't room around those apartments to garden, so I'll be mostly restricted to the courtyard, which is a bit smaller than the one I have here. 

It's not like I don't have enough shade plants! i've been complaining for years that I don't have enough shade here, so a shady spot may be a relief. 

The Gardens

Sun Coleus Among a Tangle of Overgrown Plants in the South Garden
The outside gardens have just gotten to be a mess! Despite all my careful planning, they are so overgrown they don't look like gardens at all, and they have no form or function. The butterfly garden was a huge bust, so it has to all come out. I won't have any trouble selling the butterfly weed as "you dig" plants, because people love that stuff. If I can get the shrimp plants to bloom, I might be able to sell those too, but they haven't ever bloomed in 3 years, so I'm not counting on it. I think those will just be tossed or given away to someone who wants to give them a try.

The south-facing garden is overcrowded and downright ugly. I plan to take out everything but the bulbs and perennials and redo that completely this winter. If i move, I may just do a you-dig sale and get rid of it all. 

The hibiscus bed is doing o.k., but the morning glories didn't take off like I had hoped, and one of the hibiscus died, so I planted an elderberry and an angel trumpet in there, but neither is growing very fast. The peacock gingers are very pretty this year, and have multiplied like mad, so I need to thin those and pot up some to sell. 

As for the new front beds on the hill, they will all come out this winter, except for the corner garden with the Christmas Cassia in it. Everything else will be removed, and the cassia will be cut back drastically, and maybe even moved back further into the corner, so that it can stay after I move. 

Paring Down and Moving On

The Butterfly Garden Didn't Turn Out As Planned
Once the gardens are under control, I'll start my plans on which plants go with me and which ones stay. I do have some caladiums, gingers and bromeliads that can go to a shady spot, and of course, my tropicals and succulents need all the shade they can get. I honestly have some pretty nice plants that need shade. Unfortunately, some of my sun-loving plants won't like it there, but there's nothing I can do about that. I think I'm going to enjoy being able to grow impatiens again. I do love them so much, and they are such faithful bloomers. Also, I miss my shade coleus. The ones I have now need sun, so they'll have to go, but there are sooooooo many beautfiul coleus that grow in shade, that I won't be wanting for color.

I really have created a monster here, and I don't think I'm going to miss all the work it takes to maintain it. Once I'm down to the minimal number of plants that can fit in the courtyard, I may even try my hand with growing mini African violets under lights again.