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Published: Saturday, 4/16/2011

Weed it and Reap

Donna Coleman McCarty: Soil is the most important thing

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledoan Donna Coleman McCarty, who dug into her hobby in earnest 40 years ago, tends to her Shoreland Avenue garden. Toledoan Donna Coleman McCarty, who dug into her hobby in earnest 40 years ago, tends to her Shoreland Avenue garden.
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Ms. McCarty’s daffodils are in full bloom in her garden. Ms. McCarty’s daffodils are in full bloom in her garden.
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Hyacinth, which are very aromatic, and other spring blooms take shape in Ms. McCarty’s garden. Hyacinth, which are very aromatic, and other spring blooms take shape in Ms. McCarty’s garden.
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The Blade seeks gardeners for Weed It & Reap who represent a variety of ages, ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomics, and,  who dig in gardens large small, or with unusual content. In a sentence, tell us what’s unique about you or your garden. Contact Tahree Lane at tlane@theblade.com or 419-724-6075.


Name: Donna Coleman McCarty, retired from Toledo Edison, living in Point Place.

Garden specs: Three feet along both sides of the driveway, all around the house, and two circular beds. At the back fence is a 15-foot-wide flower bed with a path through it.

When did you start gardening? When I was young I tried to grow things. I remember showing a seed catalog to a neighbor and she said plants never look that good, and I thought, I bet they could if you knew how to grow them. So I learned everything I could and 40 years ago when I moved into my present home, I started in earnest.

What do you grow? Tulips, daffodils, rockcress, and a flowering dogwood in spring. Then peonies, iris, daisies, lupines, and oriental poppies. In early June it’s climbing roses, delphiniums, gaillardias, and lilies. The last week of June and the first part of July my daylilies take center stage along with phlox, monarda, Becky Daisy, and balloon flower. And for August it’s annuals, dinner plate dahlias, and chrysanthemums.

Favorite plant: I’ve got three. Delphinium is my most challenging. I swear the slugs gather round with knives and forks and their bibs on, waiting for the first hint of green so they can rush in and devour them. The second is the daylily: easy to grow, disease free, reliable, and in every color of the rainbow except true blue. The third is the dinner-plate dahlias, the bigger the better.

Give us a gardening tip: Soil. If you’re serious about gardening, start with soil: top soil, peat moss, and lots and lots of compost. I use composted cow manure. Oh and don’t forget the sun screen!

Hours spent gardening: There’s never enough time. In April and May I spend 10 hours a day outside, weather permitting. (Ask my neighbors.) As it gets hotter, I’m out in the morning and evening. By late June, hopefully, the plants have been divided and the beds mulched and readied for the long, hot summer. Of course, this is wishful thinking. We gardeners are never really done. 

Annual expense: $300 to $400, plus another $100 for mulch. Growing my own annuals from seeds saves a lot, and I’ve noticed the wave petunias come up by themselves. I’ll start a new variety of zinnia seeds this year in my plastic biodome on a heating table. 

Challenges: Slugs and black spot.

I’m proud of: Proud probably isn’t the right word. Delighted, tickled, and happy better describe the feelings I had when I was in the Point Place Garden Tour in 2009 and a couple walked through my garden and said they got a lot of good ideas. Wow, it makes my happy endorphins dance around. Oops, there might be a little pride there.

What I’ve learned from gardening: Pleasure, joy and contentment: the pleasure of seeing a robin standing at attention waiting for me to turn the next shovelful of soil so he can scurry in and grab a snack; the joy of watching a hummingbird seemingly suspended in air collecting nectar from a flower, and the contentment of gazing at the pattern on the wings of a butterfly at rest.


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