So a few things we’d talked about before have changed a bit, as we decided where to start planing the grape hyacinth (muscari).
This is the area we settled on, before clean up.
Two summers ago, this area was quite overgrown. Some of the lilacs and carigana I cut back have started to encroach again. I deliberately did not mow around here, because I wanted to see what would come up.
Not much, it turns out. Lots of crab grass, and a few of a type of wildflower we have all over the place.
In this area, there are rows of trees planted varying widths apart, with a path to the old garden that splits it into east and west sides (this is the west side we are working on). After clarifying where we wanted to keep walking paths, one of my daughters and I started raking, and I also cut away some of the encroaching lilacs, caragana and the maple suckers that were coming up.
The row of elm and maple on the left has a narrower space between them and another row of trees to the north. Then there is a wide space that will be kept open as a walking path, followed by several more rows of trees planted way too close together.
We will be planting a bag of bulbs on either side of the row of trees on the right of the photo, and not too close to the lilacs and caragana. We want to encourage them to spread outwards from that row of trees.
There was quite a lot of debris, so we ended up using the firepit to burn it. When my other daughter was able to come join us, they continued the hard physical labour, while I tended the fire. 🙂
This sort of stuff makes for a very smoky fire!
After the dry debris on the surface was raked away, they went over it with a thatching rake to get even more up, and try and loosen the soil. The piles from what were not appropriate for burning, so they’re going to be used as a sort of mulch, elsewhere.
The girls even kept going and raked up the next area we’ll be planting in.
Just not today!
They also remembered that auger I bought, intending to use in the old garden area. On realizing how much rockier it was than expected, we never did.
So I got it out, attached it to our drill and tested it.
That didn’t work. Too many roots! The auger would jam and stop turning, almost immediately! Those circles you see where as deep as I could go before it got hung up and starting making some very unfortunate noises.
Which may well have been a good thing, I guess.
After scattering a bag of bulbs fairly randomly in the prepared area, the girls got to work, digging 4 inch holes manually (the recommended depth for muscari) and planting them, while I continued to tend the fire.
We are now down a trowel.
There it is – with the rock that broke it!
We have another one, but no one can remember where it ended up, so they found another tool and continued.
Hitting a rock like that with the auger probably would not have broken the auger.
It would most likely have broken my drill, though!
Here is one section they worked in. It’s hard to tell where they planted the bulbs from the ground scuffed as they worked! It was a very difficult job, with many roots and rocks in the way. The soil is very hard. I know, however, that grape hyacinth can handle that, since I’ve seen them growing in much worse conditions!
The entire area has been watered and, tomorrow, we will work on the next section.
The crocuses will also be planted in this side of the maple grove (the east side still has piles of dead branches waiting to be chipped), but the iris and tulips will go someplace much more prominent and visible. They don’t have the spreading habit the grape hyacinth and crocuses do, so we’ll be more particular about bulb placement, too.
I’m so happy! When I was a kid, going through catalogs, grape hyacinth were among the things I always wanted to grow. When living in Victoria, BC, where they grew like weeds on the sides of roads (which is how I know they can handle the hard soil of this area just fine!) that only solidified my desire to have them. Now we finally do! And with a couple hundred bulbs planted, I think we can be assured of a decent number of them sprouting next spring.
As long as the skunks and squirrels don’t dig up and eat the bulbs!