Thursday, March 24, 2011


Sunday's "Farewell to Winter" storm lasted far into the night and brought high winds. Delicate freesias and ranunculi were beaten down onto the sodden ground. I knew that many of them would lift their heads as soon as they got a few hours of sun, but not so my largest lavender. It had fallen over because the wet earth was too soft to support its top-heavy frame.

The lavender in question is a bush over five feet tall. About a year ago I'd pruned it to stand as a tree. Its low branches were not only choking out other plants but also providing an idyllic hiding place for snails and slugs. Fortunately, it responded well to all the chopping and sawing that left it with one thick trunk bearing numerous branches laden with long-stemmed flowers. Heavily mulched but never watered, it must have developed a strong, deep root system -- not quite strong enough for Sunday night's abuse, though.

Monday I mourned, and felt some guilt about having created the unnatural shape that doomed my innocent plant. On Tuesday, though, I resolved to take action. First I used my sturdy pruning saw and removed at least a third of the heaviest branches. This totally filled our green-waste bin, where myriad bees followed. (Until the bin is picked up on Friday, I can lift the lid for instant aromatherapy!)

Steve rounded up three sturdy stakes and pounded them deep into the ground. I used tinseled wire* to tie the trunk in place, and buttressed it with paving stone and brick on the side toward which it had fallen. Oddly, this was the west side. Most of our rain storms come from the west, and this was definitely a Pacific storm (oxymoron?), but the winds were whipping around from all directions.

I plan more pruning, and will try to make lavender wands with some of the long-stemmed flowers.
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*This holiday holdover is a favorite garden supply. It's based on flexible wire about the same gauge as telephone wire, wrapped with something silvery, and strung with silver paillettes made of light-weight plastic. As the silver fades, the paillettes continue to quiver in the gentlest breeze. Thus an illusion of fairy dust hovers around plants tied up with it. I used a whole hank (probably about 12 feet) on the distressed lavender tree, so it should look festive throughout its rehabilitation.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License