The Clueless Gardener

"fanaticus sine potestas"

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ah, Labor Day Weekend...

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Summer Is Ending...

...I can tell because the familiar season's-end emotions are hitting me. I look at my blighted clematis, leaves all blackened and shrivelled up; I see my prized little weeping pear tree, half eaten by foraging deer, also feeling diseased; the daylily leaves are all flat on the ground, making the lily patch the ugliest part of the garden; the weed-whacker has cut off yet more peony shoots; the mosquitoes are as hungry as ever; it's so humid I can swim out to the garden; I missed all the datura flowers, just like I missed my peonies and poppies earlier this summer. Am I the only FED UP gardener at this point? My arcadia is now an overgrown, weedy, picked-over, gone-by patch of sodden has-beens, and I catch myself wishing it would all disappear, just to reappear next May, filled with opportunity. My British garden magazines pertly tell me to plant up the holes in the borders with some quick annuals...but I have so many holes...! And, I guess in England you can buy fresh annuals in August, but I certainly cannot here. So my best defense is to direct my attention elsewhere. The plant that has saved the late garden from being bare, my perennial blue lobelia, is the same one that, if I miss deadheading even one seedpod, volunteers itself everywhere. As a result, I do have nice stalks of blue all over, but boy do I have to keep my eye on them! My nicotianas still bring me joy, and I'm liking the behavior of my little patch of guaras. The anemone robustissima is indeed robust--it has crashed way out of its confines, and I don't have the heart to rein it in just yet. Can't wait for the pinkie flowers that will start any day now...but I hate to water, hate to feed, hate swatting bugs and squishing earwigs. I miss my tall tall tall spruce in the front yard, and the chipmunks in the garage are driving me crazy. Oh, and I find it sooooo depressing when I see the garden centers [and the supermarkets, gas stations and big-box stores!] setting out dozens of budded-up mum plants. That to me is the true end of the promise of summer, and I always feel annoyed that I'm supposed to want mums NOW when the time I really need them is at Thanksgiving! Bitch, bitch, bitch. It's the end of summer, all right.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Kind of Hummers

Have you seen those revolting Hummers on the roads? Or, even worse, a stretch-limo Hummer? Enough to make one lose one's lunch. My kind of hummers are...actual hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths, natch. Just got back to the garden, and was lucky to see an industrious little hummy-moth sipping away at the nicotianas in the dusk. Makes one feel all's right with the world...sigh of contentment...( of course, then you go back in the house and the news is on, and you want to scream all over again.) I don't have a hummingbird feeder, as I am not here often enough, and even if I were, I'm too lazy to keep it properly clean, so that's a no. But, there's at least one hummingbird male coming regularly to the red n. alatas, and that's enough of a thrill for me. Meanwhile, I've got a nice crop of hummer-moth caterpillars on some of the plants. I want to watch them munching away, but it's my plants they're munching on, so I guess I have mixed feelings! They are still so tiny that they don't make any subtle-but-horrifying noises yet...will they grow big enough without decimating the plants first? Ah, the metaphysical musings of a summer's afternoon....sigh...

Monday, August 21, 2006

"You should see my nasturtiums now!!"

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Back From A Trip

Just returned from the Pacific Northwest, where we gawked at the scenery, and rode lots of ferries. I know there are incredible gardens all over the Northwest, but I didn't visit them. Heronswood is closed down. The big famous public gardens are bursting with Victorian-style bedding out plantings, which are of no interest to me...Didn't have time to research private ones, to my great regret. The one garden I did visit, the Sun-Yat Sen garden in Vancouver, was beautiful, but the tour guide knew absolutely nothing about the plantings. So, I guess no blue poppy viewing for me! The food was quite good, on the other hand...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My favorite annual...

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Monday, August 07, 2006

mmm...inhale the nicotianas...

My seed-grown n. alatas perk up at the end of the day... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Got Earwigs?

Still life with globe thistle and out-of-focus earwig... Posted by Picasa

Integrated Pests in need of Management

I have to label this past few days as "weekend of the earwig." Everywhere I looked in the garden, there they were. Until this summer, I hadn't had a huge number, so I don't really control for them, but this year--they're everywhere, they're everywhere! I'm all for Integrated Pest Management, which usually means for me, hand-picking when necessary. So I'm not up on the organic concoctions that I probably could whizz up in the blender to stymie these fellas. Not only do they set up a major metropolitan area in my daylilies, but they are underneath every other echinacea flower, and they are vertically burrowed into every head of my globe thistles. I certainly did a lot of shrieking and double takes picking my flower bouquets this weekend! Talk about Integrated Pest Management, I've got the integration part, and the pest part, but as for the Management...not yet! I've gotten so mad at the bugs that all my squeamishness has gone out the window. When I see a bug, whether it be these bizarre prehistoric-looking scale my datura and nicotiana planter by the door is plagued by, the striped beetles chomping away that I keep meaning to look up, or these disgusting earwigs--I've begun spontaneously squishing them with my bare fingers...I'm so mad and I can't let 'em get away, so 'splat' they go. I realize that garden hygiene is one obvious control, and I'm doin' the best I can, but these creepy-crawly guys are way ahead of me at the moment..... However, I must say the best pest of the weekend, also attached under a datura leaf, has to be my first hornworm of the year. About half the size of an adult, and looking still-attached to the leaf at the rear end, had it just emerged? Anyway, there it was, and it was the first time in several years that I could perform my 'stupid pest trick.' If you get the attention of the caterpillar by gently poking it several times, it makes a clicking sound! ["If I could talk to the animals..." sang Dr. Doolittle--did he talk to such animals as these horrifying fat green wormy things with tiny gripping claws and a horn on the back?!] The bigger hornworms I have found in the past made a dull click sound, more like, "thhhhft," but this junior feller made these more sharp,very faint, harder to hear clicks. Yes, if you're going to play with your local pestilence, you must lean over and incline your ear to the wee thing so you'll hear it if it decides to say to you, "Stop that!" Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't torture it in the least--please no posts on animal cruelty--this is more like a game of "Punch Buggy," and once I got the 'pillar to talk, I let him crawl away to a non-cultivated area of the yard. And as for my aforementioned preferred method of pest control, no, I do not hand-squish hornworms...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Got a Brazilian...

...brazilian verbena, that is...there it was, waiting for me, at my favorite farm stand, The Corn Crib in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. End of season discount, too! It was just waiting for the scales to slip from my blinkered eyes, I guess. I've got it potted up in a nice container now, letting a few of its fronds bloom for the rest of the summer and fall. This is one of the more immediate-gratification moments in gardening, considering it takes months or years for plants to grow, landscapes or flowerbeds to fill in, etc. One week, voila! what a neat-o plant, then, the following week it's mine, mine! Posted by Picasa