Berkshire Garden Style: Gardening with Heart
Last month I was so focused on getting the summer-blooming plants into the ground; it was all about the timing of planting before the summer solstice. After the big planting push comes the care and attention to detail to assure that our plants thrive and provide long-lasting color and flush through our gardening season. In respect to care, it’s not just care for the plants but also for the people and other garden visitors like those with wings and fur. Fuzzy caterpillars, like fuzzy puppies, are creatures too!
Care, consideration and nurturing are all things that we spend a lot of time on but that not many people think about in respect to landscaping or gardening. Just like organic practices and a blending of the wild with the intentional/designed, empathy, sensitivity and as Jenna says “f%#king heart-centered” is an authentic part of who we are as gardeners at Viridissima and what we want to share as we create the Berkshire Garden Style.
This month as the temperatures climb and we find ourselves alternating sunscreen and rain jackets, I want to talk about the ways in which we garden with heart.
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We started off this warm season very dry but as soon as the rain set in the bugs came out! There are some mornings at particular properties where the mosquitos keep us company for hours! It’s easy to spray, swat and smack away the insects (and yes caterpillars, being the larvae of moths and butterflies are indeed insects) that are currently making an appearance in our garden spaces. To me, to our planet and to continue the delicate interconnectedness of it all, it’s more important to consider the ways in which we can prevent and mitigate pest damage naturally.
In the before-stage of plant care we have two strategies. For our dahlias in particular which we have carefully overwintered, we start the tubers out in pots and get a good 6-10 inches of growth. This makes the plant a bit more resilient because slugs love dahlias and they will defoliate a plant overnight. Additionally, in the planting stage we take care to clear vegetation (which provides easy slug access to a plant) and provide a good application of sluggo to dahlias and zinnias in particular. Sometimes the process of pest control is mitigation as is the case of the lily leaf beetle and her egg masses which we hand pick and squish. If we are not careful enough to remember to pick each time we visit a site with true lilies, we find maturing larvae which then is a messier removal process as they pile poop on top of themselves as they feed - who ever said gardening was glamorous?!
We think too about how we take care of ourselves in respect to the bugs while caring for the plants and the gardens we work in. Essential oils like that of cedar, geranium and lemon grass work for some of us on days when the mosquitos are mild. We regularly apply Tick’d off (you can get it from Green Branch Urban Farm right in Housatonic!) on our ankles, wrists and socklines before work. Find them on facebook https://www.facebook.com/greenbranchurbanfarm/ . Keeping moving and wearing long sleeves and pants (even in the heat!) also stops the biters from getting to our skin all without the use of DEET. And always remember to diligently do a daily tick check!
Like I said, fuzzy caterpillars like fuzzy puppies are creatures too...But somehow fuzzy puppies make most of our hearts melt a little more so than the Lepidopteras do which is why I’m introducing a new member of team-Viridissima to you by way of July’s blog post. Meet Frais, Freya (fresh, strawberry, Norse goddess of love and beauty) whose cuteness and garden presence is making us all take pause and smile!