Home & Garden

Gardener Guy's wisdom

“Gardener Guy” Paul James hadsome novel, funny and outspokenthings to say in his talk at the gardenshow earlier this week.

Here’s a sampling:

„ When it comes to new varieties ofplants, “the world of plants is just as gimmickyas other products. I don’t go outand buy a lot of new stuff. I like to wait alittle bit.”

When he does get an untried plant,James says he’ll buy a 1-gallon size andsee how it does. He usually grows theplant in a pot so he can move it around ifit needs more or less sun and see how itfares before planting it in the ground.James said that a common problemwith new varieties is their reverting to theold standard.

“Variegated leaf forms are very popularright now,” James said. “Plant growers getgreedy. Instead of growing it out four tofive years to see if it’s genetically stable, bythe third year it’s back to green again.Thatmakes me mad. It’s greed.”

For the record: James is also againstpatents on plants.

„ To get rid of Bermuda for a raised-bedgarden this spring, James advises using asod cutter to take the grass out to a depthof 3 inches. Then water, wait a week to 10days, and hoe out the resulting weeds.

To make a raised-bed border, James sinks2-inch-by-12-inch lumber 3 inches into theground and fills the bed with good soil.Then he waits a week for the soil to settle,and fills it back in with more soil.

„ For those who have been on a gardentour, or imagined what it must be like,James told the story of a Tulsa womanwhose multitudes of apricot tulips wereset to be at their peak bloom during a gardentour on which she was to appear. Buta couple of days before the tour, a stormknocked every petal off the flowers. So thewoman bought crepe paper in the sameapricot color and hired people to tapepaper petals on all the bare stems.

At a distance, you couldn’t tell the difference,James said.

„ To get rid of bindweed, cut it off anduse a paintbrush to very specifically applyRoundup to the stem.

„ To get rid of powdery mildew, mix 1part skim milk and nine parts water andspray on the mixture.

„ James has gotten into growing bonsaitrees, the opposite style of what heteaches in the garden. He recently got tosee and touch a bonsai tree living since1681 that is worth $375,000.

„ If you were a fan of James’“Gardening by the Yard” show on HGTV,you’ll want to know that the show is onwhat the cable channel calls hiatus, andJames says HGTV has pretty much turnedits back on the “garden” part of its name.