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Moving Schipka Laurel for Rhododendron 'Loderi King George'

Picture it - a 6 ft. tall Schipka Laurel used to stand here (I forgot to take a "before" shot and don't feel like searching for one).  I knew when I planted it that it was probably a bad idea but thought it would be good for a fast-growing screen along the back fence-row. I'm sure all gardeners do this, especially if you have a new garden and are eager for greenery. In all fairness to the laurel, it is a useful plant and I would argue even a beautiful one when nicely maintained. Before I dug this one up, I stood back and admired it and felt the guilt pangs stabbing at my heart.  I removed a much larger laurel than this a few years ago and they are not the easiest plant to dig out. I was determined to save this one and I believe I was successful.  Here is a thought and you can take this to the bank - the pot you choose to hold a plant that you dig up will ALWAYS be too small. Always!  So, after finding the largest pot I could, here it is, after being cut back pretty dr

Too Early for Winter Clean-Up?

Winter continues its grip on our region and it needs to go bye-bye. Since returning from my trip to Alabama last week, I've been itching to get out and begin the garden clean-up but I hesitate. I think it is best to wait until temperatures are above 50 before cutting plants back for the sake of insects that are using the plants for shelter. 

The rose pruning can begin and I will start that this week. However, the weather is just icky - wet and cold - and getting out there requires some willpower. 

I did go ahead and cut back the ornamental grasses, which I felt guilty about, but it is done.

I also got an interior job completed, something I've wanted to do for a long time - installing a tool rack on the garage wall and attaching brackets to hold our ladders. This blank area of wall has always irked me and the fact that we are constantly stumbling over tools on the floor begged that the space be used. The reason I kept putting the project off was because I could not drill a hole in the dense concrete wall (and I tried several times). The solution that finally presented itself was the purchase of a rather inexpensive hammer drill. A highly recommended tool! 

After contemplating buying a ready-made rack to attach to the wall, I finally decided to create my own using a piece of wood that I bolted to the wall (thanks to the hammer drill) and attached brackets on the wood bar to hold the tools. A sense of accomplishment and it made a big difference. At least I can now get in and out of my truck without stumbling over tools and ladders. Our tiny garage is cramped enough as it is.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Even here in coastal SoCal it feels too cold to tackle a lot of our usual "late winter" projects but I'm slowly ticking them off. Of course, snow isn't a factor here.

  2. I finished cutting back all the clumps the Japanese Forrest Grass yesterday. I started in mid February, before the lates cold snap, when I thought (hoped) winter was mostly done. If one waits and the grasses start growing, it becomes a big job in a hurry.
    Good job on the tool rack. It must feel awesome after having to managed without one all those years!


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