Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Hidden Advantages to "Chop and Drop"

Here at the Village Green, Head Gardener Jon and I are a good pair. I’m creative and messy. He’s very tidy and organized. He’s a big strapping guy and I’m a weenie woman. So I have the luxury of creating fun vignettes with plants and he plants them for me. I go on a clipping spree and he picks up my piles. He’s my hero. But there are times when being tidy isn’t always in the best interest of the garden.
Years ago I read somewhere (I think it was Ann Lovejoy) about a method called chop and drop, where as you deadhead or clip back a plant, you just cut it up in small pieces and drop it behind the plant to compost right there. I LOVE this method, and I’ve found a few unexpected advantages to it.
Two years ago I cut back some trumpet lilies that had formed little bulbils on their stems. I laid the stems in a pile on the edge of the Fragrance Garden to be picked up, but they were hidden by the roses and so stayed there until fall when we cleaned up the rose bed. By that time, all the little bulbils had fallen off and the leaves on the lily stems had composted on top of them. The next spring I was greeted with a small crop of little green lily stems amongst the roses. This year, we were blessed with a beautiful, fragrant new colony of Trumpet Lilies.
Now I could have picked the bulbils off and planted them in a pot and babied them until it was time to plant them out, but I don’t have that kind of time or patience. This was much easier. I have done the same thing with a seeding patch of Lady Jane Tulips and I often leave alyssum under the roses to go to seed. The old plant dies over the winter, but offers compost and protection, so I have new little alyssum seedlings the next spring.

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