Plant Deflopper would be just the ticket for droopy fall gardens


Mr. Much More Patient, also known as the picker-upper of our yard, offered a rare suggestion for the topic of this week’s column. This is highly unusual as the yard maintenance roles in our house have always been clear. I manage everything related to the garden, and he is in charge of all lawn-related items. Fortunately, this also includes anything on the lawn, which means that my frantic weeding sessions in which all manner of detritus is tossed on the lawn becomes part of his kingdom as it is expelled from mine.

His suggestion for column fodder: floppy plants, specifically the ones that flop over the path, patio and lawn.

Perhaps this suggestion is borne from his idea for a lawn mower attachment that would lift up plants that have flopped over as it goes by. It’s still in the conceptual stage, but imagine an oarlike lever attached to a riding mower that would scoop up plants laying over the lawn and hold them up while the mower slides under them.

We can’t quite figure out how the mechanics would work after the initial lifting-up phase, however, and I keep envisioning the disaster that could ensue when a mower fitted with such an attachment went downhill, spearing the lawn ahead and causing the mower to pitchpole, sending its rider flying through the air and depositing him on my favorite dahlias.

Mr. Much More Patient has suggested that it might be easier to manually de-flop the offending plants while the design of this invention continues. I’ll admit, he has a point. At this time of year both the garden and the gardener are tired. What’s the point of staking something that is destined for the compost pile in a matter of weeks? Even the plants are a bit tired. The ‘Wild Magic’ basil, which I grow strictly for its gorgeous purple foliage and matching flowers, has been gradually relaxing, to the point where the patio seems to be about two-thirds of its normal size.

Meanwhile, self-sown Nicotiana plants on the edges of a flagstone and gravel path to the garage are hovering at a gravity-defying 45-degree angle, making stepping over them slightly easier than walking around them.

I appreciate some floppage in the garden. It loosens everything up and wards off any propensity towards formality, or at least balances out the more formal aspects of the garden. I like it when plants mingle with one another, creating a web of color and texture.

But even I have a limit to how much flopping I can handle. The next time I find myself caught around the ankles by an errant Nicotiana, I’m going to rip it out on the spot. (They are mostly bloomed out by now anyway). And, in the spirit of garden harmony, I’ll even trim back the plants that have draped over the lawn.

That should do until the prototype of the Plant Deflopper 4000X is available.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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