Bone meal is good, as is superphosphate and 6-10-10 -- and it should be added lightly in the early spring and then a second time about a month after the bloom. By the way, now is the best time to thin iris beds. Thin them every three to four years.
Howard's final question:
"Should herbs, specifically thyme, rosemary, Greek oregano and fennel, be pruned in the fall? Moreover, could these plants be safely transplanted to a new bed in the fall or should this be done in spring?"
Woody herbs should be pruned in the spring. You don't want to encourage new growth this late in the season. If the plants are not leggy, no pruning is needed.
Faux pas redux
I've been chastised for being too harsh with my list of gardening faux pas -- while 99.9 percent of the responses added suggestions to the list and laughed along with me, one woman said:
"I think a person's home and garden is an expression of themselves and what they enjoy. I have an old wheelbarrow and a few birdhouses in my garden and I enjoy them every time I look at them. Why can't people just let others enjoy what they like and leave them alone? I realize too much mulch is harmful, but if it isn't illegal, immoral or life-threatening, we should leave others alone and not always be so critical. How would you feel if someone told you they didn't like your hairstyle, etc.? Let's not be so rude to each other, OK?"
That's the beauty of a garden -- to each his own!
Another reader, Sandy Goad, commented on the "empty bench" that I listed as a faux pas.
"As I was reading your column, there was a thought I wanted to share with you. I have taken great delight in creating a rock garden and adding to it things that bring memories of loved ones who have passed on. One of those is an 'empty chair.' Yes, just an empty chair sitting in my rock garden surrounded by chimes and plants planted in memory of my twin brother, Jim.
"I write an 'Empty Chair' column about grief for my local newspaper. No one really sits in the chair. It serves as a reminder that the chair isn't really empty at all if it brings to mind beautiful memories of a life well lived.
"So sometimes we don't always know the meaning behind the things that are placed so carefully in one's garden."
Sandy, this reminded me of my late, great mother-in-law. When her husband of many years died, she sat and looked at his chair for about two days. Then, in her pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps manner, she got up from her chair, walked around the table and sat in his. She said she didn't like looking at it without him in it, and she admitted that he had always had the better view out the dining room window!
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.