Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How does my garden grow?

Good question.  Does anyone know the answer?  I sure don't.  Yes, my name is Mary and Yes, I can be quite contrary.  However, the similarities to the nursery rhyme end there.  With that as a reference, I could load up on silver bells and cockel shells, but how exactly does that help my garden?  May I add, the only pretty maid I have is my 9 year-old daughter Kasey...and she knows less about gardens than I do. 

Garden in current state

Does not even look like a garden I know.  This is how it looked last week.

Garden before
 There were 7 azalea and rhododendron bushes.  They had an insect called scales that lay cottony egg sacks and deposited black soot-like waste, slowly chocking the life out of the plants.  To be honest, I am happy to see them gone.  I'm not a fan of azaleas.  Every house I have lived in, someone had planted azaleas and rhododendrons as the most prominent garden feature.  Neglectful previous owners allowed them to become overgrown monsters.

To compound the insect infestation and my dislike of azaleas, New Jersey had a rough year weather-wise.  An extremely dry, hot summer was followed by a freezing cold, stormy winter, wreaking havoc on yards from High Point down to Cape May.

The effects in my own neighborhood can be seen as I walk my dog each day.  

A once proud arborvitae

The final obstacle hindering my garden is New Jersey itself.  That is, the red clay soil that makes up Central New Jersey. 

The soil is densely packed with poor drainage.  How can you plant anything is this stuff?  Perhaps I'd do better at gardening if I quit it completely, bought a kiln and took up pottery. 

Terracotta anyone?

Standing water is a big issue

So how did New Jersey get the nick-name of "The Garden State" anyway?  

Somebody must have figured it out.  So that's what I am attempting to do. 

Did you want to help me on my quest of conquering the clay?  Do you have any hint to help me manage a beautiful garden?

Can you answer me this....How does your garden grow?

If you would like to see what a real garden should look like, check out my friend Carla's Virtual Garden Party.


  1. I love the way you write! I am laughing while reading this. We have clay here too but it is at least a foot down so I just turn over the ground and add lots of amendments and mix with the topsoil. I also would add a coarse compost and some coarse sand. You need things that will loosen it up. Good old composted manure will help also. But start will lots of compost of any kind and go from there. You might want to use a rototiller too and keep mixing it all in. But do that when the ground is dryer or you will just make big dirt clots that will be even harder to breakdown when dry.

  2. Hi Mary!

    Wow - this is so familiar, but you are SO far ahead of me! I am planning a vegetable garden along the side of my house too - it's the only place that gets full sun.

    I will not be pulling out azaleas, but a mass of day lilies that's so thick, they hardly bloom anymore. (probably my fault) Mary - I haven't even started digging!

    I'm also going to do a similar spread along the inside of my fence that only gets partial sun - I read that you can grow things that vine (peas, cucumbers) in dappled shade - we'll see!

    We also have clay, so I am pleased to see what Carla has to say here...I'll stay tuned.

  3. I’m giving you the Versatile blogger award!
    I Love your blog and reading what you have to say or show us next. You are truly a inspiration to follow.
    click here to pick up your award and the rules!

  4. Mary,
    Where ya been? Where ya at? Maybe the writer in you will be at... "The Broke 4Ranch" is having a Virtual Blog BBQ, hosted by yours truely. BBQ dinner will be held outside at The Bunk House with a Barn Dance following this evening. Invitation is posted on my blog.
    Hope to see you there!

  5. Hi Miss Mary! How is your garden? Love the way you write!