“I’ve thought about them so long,” explained Rebecca Abenroth. “I’m imagining this basket and watching it grow and thinking what are you going to turn out like little guy?"
If it sounds like Rebecca Abenroth is talking about a child, it's because in a way she is, the Cherry Ridge Farm garden is her baby. “I start Labor Day pouring over catalogs and spend my whole fall dreaming of combinations. By Thanksgiving, I've got my orders in and we start planting the first of January."
For the past four years, Abenroth has taken over as master gardener for Cherry Ridge Farms. But her job isn’t all sunshine, there’s a touch of school too.
“It's a whole different thing than raising fruit, which I've done," she said. Abenroth has had to become a combination gardener, chemist and climatologist. “Everything we grow, we grow for this climate, it’s brutal stuff,” she said. “It needs to stand up to the heat, wind and drying out."
No, she doesn’t grow tumble weeds at Cherry Ridge, but you won't find hibiscus either. But, geraniums, petunias, and sweet potato plants are staples. Every year she creates 800 baskets featuring only geraniums, and they stay looking healthy the same way we do; "water and food."
Whether you got a coveted Cherry Ridge basket or one from Albertsons, the formula remains the same.
"They're hot house flowers, so they're used to a ton of water and a ton of fertilizer. You've got to keep that up.” ‘A ton’ -- calculates out to a gallon of water a day and fertilizer every two weeks.
“People that do that will end up with a six foot basket by summer,” she said. Growing like a weed, or rather a kid, and eventually leaving this master gardener with an empty nest.
“It's really sad [to see them go], I have to go gulp and hide in the control room," she said.
Abenroth suggests trimming back your baskets mid-summer. Although at first you might ask yourself ‘what have I done,’ she says they will blossom again, bigger and brighter.