Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sometimes The Garden Must Wait

In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them." 
~Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, 1887-1948)

It’s June and by now the lilacs are finished blooming here in the Pacific Northwest.  I have 3 medium sized trees and by now I would normally have been up on a ladder amongst the branches cutting off all the old bloom clusters before they form seed heads.  It makes them not only look considerably better, it also sends the plants energy into new growth sooner rather than giving it over to seed formation.

I won’t be doing that this year though.  The pace of my schedule has ramped up this year and some tasks of the garden simply must be left undone.  Ignoring some garden jobs can cause untold disaster, like letting weeds get out of control.  That I won’t allow, but skipping the lilacs doesn’t worry me.  Leaving the seed heads will not affect the tree’s blooming performance next year.  What it will do is provide food for birds during winter’s dearth and that’s a good thing.  A neighboring garden has a beautiful double flowering white lilac tree.  It is far too big to teeter on a ladder to clean it up so it is never dead-headed.  And because of that, every winter on the bleak gray days, I smile as I watch the Chickadees feast on every last morsel offered by that tree.  This winter they’ll have more with my trees adding to their buffet. 

In Bloom in My Garden Today: Alpine Strawberries, Armeria, Baptisia, Bletilla pink, Blueberries, Chives, Columbine, Daylily, Daphne caucasica ‘Eternal Fragrance’, Dianthus, Gaillardia (blanket flower), Hardy Geranium, Hosta ‘sum and substance’, Huchera, Kniphofia (torch flower or red hot poker, Nepeta ‘six hills giant’ (catmint), Peas, Peony, Phygelius ‘new sensation’ (cape fushia), Primrose vailii, Rose, Salvia, Saxifraga andrewsii (irish saxifrage), Sedum, Schizostylis ‘watermelon’, Thalictrum rochebrunianum (meadow rue), Tomato,

Author’s photos


Shari B. (FitFeat) said...

I love my lilac bush so much, it's my favorite in our yard. It was done with it's delicious smell before the end of May and I missed it so much I had to seek out a lilac-scented candle (which to my delight I found)!

My mom just taught me how to deadhead my roses so now I will have to try my lilacs next spring! Thanks for the tip!

Joan said...

Hi Shari!
The fragrance is fabulous isn't it? I think you can prune them any time of year. Just cut off the old cluster to the base where new growth forks out. But if you can't get to it, your birds will feast as well as mine! Thanks for checking in!

Kathy J said...

Dear Joan- this is my 4th and I hope final attempt to post on your blog!
I Absolutely love the lilac. it signals Spring and perhaps the end of the winter doldrums; each year I can hardly wait to cut a few blooms and get them in a vase to admire and enjoy.
I wanted to know if I would get more blooms next year if I cut them off? Also, couldn't I save the old blooms and put them out in the winter for the birds? Last year I just left the sunflowers in my garden and they were fully devoured.
Thanks for your blog!

Joan said...

Hi Kathy,
I do not think cutting the blooms will give you more next year. Lilacs bloom on last years growth and if you look at it you'll see at each old bloom site the new growth will fork, giving you two new stems that will bloom next year. Cutting off the old blooms will not give you more stems. Furthermore you would need to leave the old bloom on the plant long enough for the seed to form and ripen. By then the growth for next years blooms will be set.
Great question!

Kathy J said...

Wow, ok- very informative. So, leaving them is fine; ha, that definitely works for me!!!
Now, *sigh*, my Honeysuckle plant.... let's talk, lol