Garden Journal: Week of 8/29

What a treat to return to UVa after a summer away to find the TJDG all grown up! Although it would have been fun to watch the garden sprout up in person, thanks to the blog, I’ve been able to follow along from afar.

I’m Chelsea DeWitt, one of the new fall interns at the garden.  You may recognize my name from previous blog posts as Erica Thatcher and I worked together to design the garden last spring.  I am currently a dual degree graduate student in Landscape Architecture and Urban & Environmental Planning at UVa.

I couldn’t imagine a better way to ease into the school year than mornings spent watering and tending the garden. One of my first tasks was to prune back the marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) so new flowers would bloom.  This is called deadheading and it is a useful tool for gardeners wanting to extend their flowering season.  By removing dead blossoms, you trick the plant into thinking that it still needs to produce flowers (an important component of a plant, since flowers eventually become seeds).  That was about a week ago and sure enough, new flowers are popping up all over.

The marshmallow room received a good pruning back to allow for new flowers to bloom.

If you come by the garden and look closely you may find a few cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) bolls that have burst open to reveal their fluffy insides.  We look forward to the months ahead as our lovely cotton border comes alive.

The first of our cotton bolls have begun bursting forth with fluffy cotton fibers.

Examining the cotton.

We’ve also been keeping an eye on the sesame (Sesamum indicum) because we noticed the leaves beginning to turn yellow.  Initially we thought it was due to lack of water, but after a little research we learned that it’s normal for the leaves of a sesame plant to turn yellow and then red upon maturation.

Emily and Lily stake the beautiful sesame stalks, so they don't block the path.

This past Saturday we had our first fall workday with Lily and Rachael and the two other fall interns, Lily and Emily (who you’ll be hearing from in the weeks to come).   In addition to weeding and watering, we picked dead leaves off the sunflowers, mounded up the base of the corn, and added soil to the peanuts.

Building up the soil underneath the peanuts (Arachis hypogaea), so they have somewhere to dig in their pegs (the part of the plant that becomes the peanut).

How exciting to have the opportunity to continue my involvement at the TJDG now that there is a tangible garden in the ground as opposed to musings of seeds to be ordered and paths to be laid out.  This fall I look forward to helping maintain the garden as well as working on a garden assessment with Erica and developing a guidebook for visitors to the garden.

~Chelsea

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