pulling lambs ear

A few moments to breathe…

Finally, a few moments today to breathe in the garden. I couldn’t sit still long, though–now that the weather has warmed up, everything is growing like crazy. I love the slightly, but attractively, overgrown cottage look. Composing groups of plants to complement each other works best when beds are somewhat crowded. It’s a fine line, though, between artfully crowded and overgrown weedfest. My beds were definitely tipping the scales!

Here’s a “before” example of the catmint (Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’) spreading into the Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, crowding a rose, and mixing it up with the Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina).

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For summer perennials, unlike winter pruning for structure, you just want to take off enough of the ends to encourage more bushy growth. Here’s a long runner I pulled out of the nicotiana, and I’m just going to cut the center leader, right above the two side branching pieces. These two shorter side branches are already trying to grow up rather than into the neighboring plant.

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I’m going to cut just enough of these tendrils going into the other plants to create a little bit of separation between the plants. Some of these side branches have flowers on them–that’s alright. A sacrifice to the cause! Or to the compost pile, anyway. Any flowers pointing up I leave.

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After. I let it continue to mix with the Lamb’s Ear a bit, because I like how it looks. Hopefully this will give the Nicotiana a little more breathing room to expand.
On the other side of the bed, though, the Lamb’s Ear is going crazy. It has sent up a LOT of flower spikes in the last couple of weeks, attracting bees right next to the path. Love the bees, but it’s getting to be a little much.

20120609-162315.jpgHere’s the “Before”.
I’m just going to selectively yank a few here and there, to reduce the overall number of flower spikes. And I’m going to pull more from the front than the back, I don’t like too many hanging out in the path. Reach deep into the plant to pull the flower stalks out at the base.

20120609-162657.jpgI discovered a Salvia greggii ‘Moonlight’ and some Bleeding Heart volunteers. (Dicentra, if you’re keeping track.)
Here’s the “After”:

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