Archive for the ‘Fall’ Category

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I haven’t seen any of the usual squirrel type suspects hanging about but it looks like someone or something has been rooting through 2 of my deck planters like they were a 99 cent all-you-can-eat buffet! Apparently squirrels and deer don’t like to eat the chocolate chip shaped Anemone Blanda bulbs however the fact remains that seventy anemone bulbs are missing and there is dirt strewn all over my deck. It happened either at night while I was sleeping or while I was at work. The good news is that all the tulips, daffodils and crocus I planted in pots have so far remained untouched. The dogs of course have seen and done nothing except sleep all day. All I have to say is somebody had better start earning their treats and plush beds!

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Fall Gardening Chores – Guerilla Garden Style

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Some gardeners like to do a ton of clean up in early fall, however others like myself are trying to put off the inevitable approach of winter and are only now thinking of pulling up the last of the annuals, cutting back the perennials and doing a final weeding. I must admit that so far it is only a small thought and it might go away rather quickly. As a Guerilla Gardener I believe that there is no right or wrong approach to “putting the garden to bed” as Master Gardeners like to call it. My personal opinion is that the majority of perennials die back to the ground in late fall, and I consider these dead tops to be a lot like strands of hair. The live roots really don’t care one way or another if I decide to trim back those strands or leave them as they are, so I just might leave the seed pods and dried leaves on the plants. I will then use the term “winter interest” to describe my garden because it sounds so much better than “I didn’t get around to it”. Knowing that the dead leaves and stems will actually help protect the plant over winter and that seed pods will sometimes sprout new plants in the spring makes this kind of Guerilla Gardening especially guilt free! I know that a good cleaning up and “hair cut” will still be required in the spring, but by then I figure I’ll be so sick of winter and be suffering from “Severe Gardening Deprivation” that I will need a good fix of gardening just to feel normal again. I’m sure this method of Horticultural Therapy will work best for me!
And thinking about spring and Horticultural Therapy, just remember as a Guerilla Gardener it’s not too late to still be buying and planting spring bulbs. Bulbs that “naturalize” (it will say that somewhere on the package) are like little hidden time-bombs that explode every spring. There isn’t as much of a selection at this time of year but they will be on sale now, so if you come across a really good deal be sure to buy lots. Fill your coat pockets with some bulbs and then secretly pop them into your neighbors’ neglected gardens or containers, plant some around the base of trees on your way to work, or maybe strategically place them on the strata property in view of your living room window. After all, everyone feels happy when they see the first blooms of spring and I like to think of it as doing my part to provide free Horticultural Therapy to the masses. If you still have a few leftover bulbs then you could plant them in pots by your front door or even better yet plant a few miniature tulips or daffodils in a brightly colored pair of children’s boots to place on your doorstep to announce the coming of spring. .
*Note:- To plant a lot of bulbs really fast, dig a large hole and pitch in a dozen or more bulbs and cover them all up at once. Not only will this look spectacular when it blooms, but let’s face it, it’s usually rainy and cold this time of year and the less time spent outside the better! This method also leaves more time for a quick getaway if you need to avoid any Strata Garden Nazis that maybe on patrol. Just saying…..if you know what I mean.
And finally, take care of the boring but necessary fall gardening chore of cleaning your tools before putting them away for the season. It is recommended to wash and dry all tools and then wipe down the metal parts using an oily rag (vegetable oil can be used to be environmentally friendly) and then put them away for winter. Those who take such things really seriously have also been known to check any wooden handles for splinters and then sand them down before rubbing the wood with linseed oil. Basically my plan is to find/organize and clean the good tools I bought this year and to get rid of any old, unused tools. Here’s to the best laid plans!

PS-And for those Master Gardeners who are going to be totally horrified by the way my winter garden is going to look – I just quote

Guerrilla Gardener Non-Rule # 10
Beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder!

Brenda DyckA Guerilla Gardener on an Adventure!

The Poison Garden

Halloween is just around the corner and there are all sorts of local pumpkin tours, corn mazes and haunted houses to visit. However, if someone has enough money (or a credit card with a substantial credit balance) and they want to experience the darker side of gardening nothing could be creepier than visiting a poison garden in Northern England!
Alnwick Castle (filmed as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films) provides the perfect Halloween backdrop to this educational garden full of mystery and intrigue. The guided tour of The Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens is a place where trained guides share fascinating myths, legends and truths of how plants have killed and cured throughout the ages.
Jane, the Duchess of Northumberland is responsible for creating the poison garden and she has had to overcome a lot of criticism and red tape to make her vision a reality. She even received (after much red tape and bureaucracy) special Home Office approval and licensing to grow drugs in the garden. This includes marijuana (the first of which was apparently stolen by a local enthusiast), opium plants and magic mushrooms. These plants now reside in cages to discourage people from trying to obtain free samples. The Poison Garden also includes some of the world’s most venomous and hallucinogenic plants, some so potentially dangerous that they are incarcerated in wrought iron cages as well. Additionally, there is around the clock surveillance to guard the safety of the public against potential terrorists, poisoners and would be drug enthusiasts.
I know your thinking to yourself…..how was she able to get a license to grow drugs!
Well…..arrangements were made for The Poison Garden to work with the Education Department’s Drug Awareness Team so they could develop programs using the plants to deliver a unique drug awareness message. For instance there is a humorous sign in the caged marijuana that says Keep off the Grass! What can I say, England seems to have a sense of humor when it comes to running a Drug Awareness Program that some countries (not mentioning any names but you know who you are) are lacking. Other drug awareness programs should take note: NO ONE LIKES TO READ YOUR BORING DRUG AWARENESS PAMPHLETS! People only read them when they are stuck waiting at a hospital or doctor’s office with no internet access and nothing else to read. And let’s face it how often does that happen.
However, it seems that people will actually pay to take an educational guided tour of a garden that contains both drugs and poisonous plants. The Poison Garden’s appeal of danger and illicit drugs is exactly what lures people to engage in a fascinating educational experience about the darker side of gardening.
The tour begins with a trained guide in front of a large set of locked spider and poison ivy covered wrought iron gates. Garden guides unlock the gates and issue a stern warning at the outset of tours: “Do not touch any of the plants. There are plants here that can kill you.” Once the giant gates have been locked behind you there are cobblestone paths through the ivy-covered tunnels that open up into a courtyard filled with flame-shaped beds containing poisonous plants. Ironically, poisonous plants are usually the most beautiful ones in the garden and like weeds, tend to grow prolifically.
Some of the deadly plants you may come across in The Poison Garden are:

Deadly Nightshade-it is one of the most toxic plants found in the Western hemisphere. Just three of the sweet-tasting berries (known as Satan’s cherries) are enough to kill.
Bearded Darnel-a poisonous grass that increases it’s danger by attracting the toxic fungus Ergot.
Castor Bean Plants-considered the most deadly of all natural poisons, ricin was extracted from castor beans for chemical warfare in World War I. It’s potency proved it too risky for both sides and it is rarely used now except by terrorists.
Hemlock-used for ancient Greece’s compulsory suicides, most famously by Socrates. Rapid physical deterioration is accompanied by the mind remaining clear to the end.
Strychnine-also known as Quaker’s Button, is the source of the poison curare. The most dramatic symptom of being poisoned by strychnine is a posthumous fixed grin.
Henbane-in the right dosage it will take someone to the doors of death, but not through them. The victim will look convincingly dead, but will most likely recover.

You will also learn that some of the most common gardening plants such as Foxglove, Datura, Hydrangeas and Lily of the Valley are extremely poisonous and could endanger children or pets. So you may actually have your own Poison Garden growing and not even know it! If this is an issue for you (due to kids and animals who never listen) then check Google for poisonous plant lists (or go all old school to the library) to help you identify what poisonous plants are growing in your yard.
Then the choice is yours- you can  either remove all the poisonous plants or start putting cages around them and charging admission. Just an idea for your closed garden Mr. Brian Minter!
Note-I would recommend obtaining government approval and a license (or at least have bail money on hand) before trying to grow drugs for “educational” purposes!

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

Brenda DyckA Guerilla Gardener on an Adventure!