Garden will help with major life change

In the Garden
Ralph Purkhiser, Purdue University Master Gardener

     I am about to have a major life change that will affect my gardening.  In a few days, I will be retiring from my job at the Southern Indiana Center for Independent Living.  I will continue to pastor the Orleans and Leipsic United Methodist Churches, but I will no longer have a job to go to every day.  It will be a big change for me, and I am counting on my garden to ease the transition.
     Obviously, I will have more hours to spend in the garden.  Perhaps I will finally get caught up with all of the garden chores that I have been unable to do.  I look around the garden and see a lot of weeds to pull.  It seems I got behind earlier in the spring when I had some medical issues and just have been unable to get caught up.  It seems that every time I am off, it rains.  It will take a while to get there, but I will follow the shade around the yard and will eventually get things in shape.
     I have several projects in various stages of development at Sandhill Gardens.  While no garden is ever “finished”, I do want to get some of my projects done.  I have a little more to do to get the moon garden to the point I want.  I will have time to install the solar rope lights on the moon gate.  I will hopefully find someone who will sandblast the old paint from the cast iron bench that will go there.  Once the old paint is off, I will paint it a bright white that will blend in with the white flowers and the variegated plants that I have planted in that area.  I will repair the light fountain and get everything mulched.
     The gazebo and fire pit area is another project that has languished for several years.  I have the bricks to complete a small patio for the old picnic table.  I will need to get some sand for setting the bricks and more gravel to complete the sitting area around the fire pit.  The gazebo needs a few repairs and some new lights.  I also hope to install an outdoor ceiling fan there, so it will become an even more welcome place of respite on hot days.
     I have some decisions to be made about the bog garden.  It has been a long time since the waterfalls worked, and I am not sure the budget will allow the repairs that would be needed there.  It gets a little out of hand, but I do enjoy the rushes and other bog plants.  I sometimes forget to put the mosquito dunks in the small pond, but the increase in available time may help me keep that chore up to date.  The flagpole in the area will get a new solar light and a new flag.  I had to do some searching, but I found a flag that is made in America.  It just seems wrong to fly an American flag that is made in China.  The old turtle bench also needs to get a new home.  I have not decided where I want it, but it should be out where it is more accessible and I can enjoy the whimsy of sitting on the back of a giant turtle.
     A large portion of the property at Sandhill Gardens lies in the great gulf west of the cliff.  While I want this area to remain a wild area, I need to attack some invasive plants.  My worst two offenders are Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose.  Both are stubborn plants, but I want to get busy cutting them and may have to resort to some herbicides to kill the roots.  I will clear some debris from the area and will begin working on the walking paths I have long wanted to create for visitors who want a more challenging hike than walking the garden paths.
     I also hope to use some time to visit more gardens.  I have been compiling lists of gardens and parks, both near and far, that I would like to see.  Of course, those visits will supply new material for this column and new ideas for Sandhill Gardens.
     It is obvious that I will have plenty to keep me busy in retirement.  I pray God will grant me good health to allow me to do these things.  Once I get finished with the garden list, I could resort to cleaning house.  Not likely.


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