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Rejuvenation: Making An Old Flower Bed Young Again

I have just finished a complete overhaul of my oldest garden bed.

"Skip and Dog helping each other in the garden."

The longer one gardens, of course, the more one has to revise. Long-term maintenance chores, while necessary, are not necessarily fun.

The bed had been infiltrated by grass, Virginia creeper and wood aster. I had also let the monarda get completely out of hand, though I know better. So I put on long sleeves, long pants and bug spray and waded in. Fortunately the weather cooperated as there was low humidity and moist soil.

I enjoyed ripping out the monarda. The roots came up easily, which is always satisfying, although from experience I know that there will be enough left in the ground to sprout again next year.

The grass was harder; it always is. There was exhilaration when a long white strand of root pulled loose, and I dug out a lot and sprayed grass killer on the rest. I use the kind that kills grass but not perennials, though there is always grass that evades whatever technique one tries.

The Virginia creeper was especially frustrating, as there were some old thick roots that I had to spray with Roundup®. I was careful to hold a piece of cardboard as a sort of backsplash behind each root as I sprayed. This prevented my accidentally spraying a perennial I wanted to keep.

Then finally came the best part of the renovation process: reimagining the space. I divided some clumps of perennials I want to keep in the bed and introduced some new shrubs and perennial cultivars I have been craving. Afterwards I was surprised to see so much bare earth and thought how nice it looked compared with the overgrown mess that used to be visible.

Visions now dance in my head of how it will look next year in full flower. I ached physically, but it was worth it!

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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