Gardener's Grapevine 04.06.2011

Written by David Green.

Recently the Morenci Garden Club lost a beloved member. We have lost quite a few through the years, but anyone familiar with this column will know this member.

Virginia Shoemaker was a lifetime member. She wrote this column for many years and took pride in doing so. She and her husband were avid gardeners in our beautiful little town and shared their knowledge with everyone. Virginia wasn’t just a member, she was a presence at our meetings. She was knowledgeable, lively and interesting. She will be missed in so many ways. We were blessed to have her in our club and in our lives. Rest in peace old friend of so many, and thank you.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Jo Erbskorn. I’ve lived in Morenci most of my life and married a hometown man, Art. We have two grown children, Jacquie and Nick. Jacquie is married to Henry Kass and Nick is at MSU (hopefully studying.) We have a lab named Kisses and three cats Cali (old and inside), Crankshaft and Zena (in Art’s studio/garage.) The reason I am introducing all of them is they all play a part in my gardening and in the Garden Club, sometimes begrudgingly. I may bring them into play at times.

I’ve admired Virginia’s column my whole adult life and it is an honor to attempt to carry it on. You will find that gardening takes effort—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot—and provides many rewards and occasional disgust. There are times when something needs to be watered or fertilized and I’m swamped with other commitments…enter in the spouse and kids.

It is early April, there are a few things that should and can be happening right now if you garden in Michigan, Ohio or Indiana. One is pruning the lavender. It is not budding yet and people argue about trimming it or not. I will tell you from my own experience that if you don’t cut it back it will be wild, woody, and have long ugly stems along with the new growth popping up. Try to cut a pretty little bundle for inside after it buds without having performed the March/April pruning, and you’ll be trying to cut through the old woody stuff. So just trim it back and keep life on the simple side.

To prune it into even lengths, gather all the long lengths from last year in one hand and cut them all off, leaving about 4 to 5 inches. It will make a nice even bunch when the sprouting begins.

If lavender is a struggle for you to grow, I will let you in on a secret: it loves roses. Never plant a rose bush without a lavender plant. They are companions and I will talk about companions in a later column. Also, if you plant them and they are unhappy with the spot, they will both be unhappy, so move them both.

We will talk more about spring in the garden and yard next week.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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