Saturday, June 11, 2011

Garden Woes

The Pond is looking just plain sorry this year. We've had all sorts of  property management issues even before these record high temperatures and this drought. In early Spring Blowfish put out some new high tech pre-emergent weed preventer. It has to get broadcast a goodly while before you put out the seed starter fertilizer and the grass seed. Blowfish got the soil tested at the university, spent hundreds of dollars, and  labored for hours in an effort to have a glorious lawn.  What he has is a barren, dead looking yard.  Because of the early beginnings of the drought the pre-emergent stuff was not released until Blowfish began watering his precious new seeds. Yep, you guessed it.  The  weeds  had already emerged and the newly activated pre-emergent stuff killed the new grass. Some of the weeds died too.  Now we have a front yard of dirt. Think dust bowl capped with dehydrated clover. It crunches underfoot as if you were walking on potato chips. Gross. To increase Blowfish's misery, Brian came with a big trailer to haul away his beloved, vintage, Gravely tractor. Apparently the issues with the clutching system were too complex for on site repairs.
 I swear it is not an exaggeration when I say the man is suffering from separation
anxiety for his tractor. He goes out and stares at the empty space in the garage.

Then too there is the issue of his new patch up by the row of holly trees.
That grass has come in fine but it is absolutely awash in every kind of weed you never want to see on your property. At first Blowfish thought the weeds were being carried by run off. But run off from what? Now he thinks the birds have doe it .... I think the weeds came in the expensive bags of seed. I have tried to go hand pull them all but by the time I get to one end of the patch they are growing anew on the other end.

Blowfish is an even tempered fellow but these difficulties are about to wear him to a nub. He's a man that wants to feel proud when he comes down the drive and he's a long way from that these days.  Just the other night he walked up and looked at this sorry patch and I could swear he was thinking about fetching a flame thrower. The droop in his shoulders as he turned away made me think about the same thing.

Before we started turning into the dust bowl of 2011 we had a early and  wetish Spring. So when all the new Spring growth started coming up out in the Courtyard garden we were anticipating  a bountiful, colorful, green spring. What we got was the plague. Some horrid  soil based fungi got revved up and as new shoots on the annuals started making their appearance the leaves unfurled and promptly turned black. That same horror
ruined the peonies, threatened all the Carolina Phlox , the Hydrangeas , deformed the bulb plants and even the Anemones turned black on the edges.  I took samples over to the Extension Office only to be told one has to remove all effected plant materials, letting none of the removed matter stay on the ground.  Which means a leaf by leaf  backbreaking effort. Then you have to spray everything with fungicide to prevent spread and total loss of the garden.

The first time didn't work. All new growth came up, turned splotchy, then  black and curling.
More leaf by leaf removal and more poison was required.

That was before none of the Moonflowers and dern few of the Caladiums came out. But I did notice in one of the pots we seemed to have some giant species of dahlia volunteering. We do have a whole section planted in pretty little pink "Patio Dahlias" from Parks Seed Company. I thought maybe the wind did a little transplanting but as the shaft started looking as big as Jack's stalk  and, setting largish bud,s I accepted the reality it was not going to be anything expected.  There in the midst of my pink , white and blue garden is this huge, deeply
red, 4 foot tall giant Dahlia. They could write a new  murder mystery over this bloody  thing.  It has remained only because it looks relatively healthy.

I took comfort in the thought the Hydrangeas were setting up for a big show this year. Some editing of the early growth had been required because of the fungi. Our Hydrangeas are  under a giant Oak so  they set later than ones that get more sun. I thought this was a good thing as the chemicals had been put out before most of the new growth had appeared.  I am sure you all know Hydrangeas are the litmus paper of the garden, showing out in either pink or blue depending on the soil PH.
Some years we put out amendments to make sure the blooms will be true blue, not a hint of lavender or Heaven forbid purple.

That can happen if your PH is balanced.
Which is unacceptable.

  Just a bit to the left of the begining of the  blue Hydrangeas is the final resting place of my mother's beloved Scottish Terrier. They were here when he died so he stayed in the garden with us. I will always remember my mother's angst over leaving him "behind". Not taking him  back to Florida with her was a painful decision. Necessary though. She had stood in the driveway by her car making me promise if I ever  moved away from the Pond I would bring Angus with me and  not leave him with strangers.  He has a St. Francis marker out there and is planted over in Lemon Balm. He, like many terrier breeds, had skin allergies so he was not always the best smelling dog. I have over the years fondly thought of him being scratch free and enjoying the crisp lemony scents. Not this year. Either the fungi, the fungicide, the drought or the combination has resulted in peaked looking, fragrance free  Lemon Balm.

  I shrugged off the worries about this and tried to keep focused on how bountiful the Hydrangeas were looking. When the blooms first start they are a lime green. Then they start showing color along the  perimeter before filling in with a uniform blue. This year they started filling in purple.  It is out of the question for there to be purple in my garden. Especially not adjacent to the resting place of my mothers dog.
There has never been on this Earth a human with a deeper seated loathing of the color purple than my mother.
Think of it as a violent allergy. No purple allowed is a rule all of us kids honor and respect.

 Until now.

I consulted with the extension people and yes the fungicide can change the soil PH and usually any amendments for  bloom color  must happen early in the season and blah-blah.  I tried what they recommended and kept an eye out for changes. We got them . Dark purple instead of red grape purple.
 Most mornings I start my day in the garden with a cup of tea. I wander around, listening to the birds singing their morning songs and enjoy the garden. Lately I walk outside and think "I'm so sorry Mom".  Today

                                                           I put an end to my misery . 

                                                            Bye Bye Purple Horror!

                    Then I went to lay in my broken hammock which Blowfish " fixed " for me.

I can swing in my hammock and just about ignore
the unplanted ferns around the Chinese Fringe Tree
Unplanted because the ground is baked into a brick
and I cannot did holes deep enough to plant the ferns.
So I must wait for Blowfish to come to my aid
with the gas powered auger.

                                         Pray the hammock will not break with me aboard !


Aunty Belle said...

wow...lots to comment on --I will be back. (But...gimme that scottie pillow!!)

Aunty Belle said...

Baack again--hope ya give them purple blooms to the ole folks home--ole folks love purple.

Sorry fer yore drought woes. Heartbreak when so much love an' care goes into a season--tried a rain dance?

Vintage Gravely? heh....round heah we jes' call things old--I like how ya style stuff up a notch..."vintage". I is "vintage" mahself.

Doan despair Fishy,
yore Fall is likely to be very lovely.

Jenny said...

"the tide goes in and the tide goes out"..... I'm so sorry your garden is not flourishing this year, but it seems Mother Nature has other plans; I lost many plants this year due to the record lows and NO Hydrangeas are blooming in the PNW because of our cold Spring. Zero. Freaky. I know you don't like the purple, but it's a color that came from the earth (Alkaline or PH related) and if I lived next door to you, I would have been happy to take them off your hands.

Aunty is right; Fall might be your happy garden time and for now it might be all about getting your soil (and Blowfish) contained and nourished.

moi said...

I, too, am heartsick over the sorry state of my (small!) patch of lawn and garden this year. What I didn't lose to minus 30 degree temps this winter, I've now lost to drought and hungry birds and rabbits. All my lettuces nibbled to the ground as well, although they've left my chives, basil, and parsley alone.

We bought this house from the original owner/builders, and the wife was from Georgia. So she planted a lot of things that need to be babied and I'm finished doing it. I'm going to get a landscaper in here to redo my beds with nothing but drought tolerant plantings and replant the lawn with native grasses. Until then, I'll just have to suffer the "crunch" of this year and look forward to fall, which seems to be the mantra all the way around.

fishy said...

I HAVE tried a rain dance, musta had the wrong rhythm cause it rained on Mermaid's pastures not the Pond.

The vintage Gravely is returning tomorrow. Blowfish will surely be doing his "Happy Shuffle" and smiling big.

You likes Scottie pups Aunty? reckon that makes sense for a woman who speaks of clans.

I love your encouraging ways. Thank you . I did tell a friend I feel awful when I wail about the state of my yard. A quick look at the weather devastations this year, floods, tornadoes, fires ....
I should be grateful.

I would happily give you all the purple blooms and that Jack's stalk dahlia too.

I hate this for you especially because you work from home. If you are a bit like me it is hard to feel creative when every time you look out your window you flinch.
Sounds like the originator of your patch tried to bring some Jorga with her.

I reckon we'll look forward to seeing the xeriscaping soon?

Buzz Kill said...

Not to rub it in, but our garden looks great this year. Your garden woes were similar to mine last year. The worst of which were the voles that tunneled in my front yard like a battalion of Viet Cong. Killing these things was next to impossible. So my neighbor Sven (the landscaper) told me the best way to get rid of the vermin was to cut off their food supply - grubs.

This year I did 3 doses of grub-X in early spring and damned if that didn't do the trick. And we had a fair amount of rain until the last couple of weeks, so our garden looks pretty good. Gut it out - there's always next year.

I laughed at Blowfishe's hammock repair. It should be an entry here:

fishy said...

Enjoy! As all have mentioned, seasons change, tides turn .... each brings a mix of good and bad. I get it. The balance here this year is just tipped a bit.

You don't think Blowfish did a fine job with his "temporary" fix of the hammock and the addition of school bus yellow heavy chain?

The good news is the ferns got planted.

Pam said...

Our garden looks great but it has nothing to do with me. I was banned long ago, except for the selection of plants at the garden center. Our lawn, however, is in much the same shape as yours. Ground is hard as a rock and the grass is growing sparse. To the point of re-sodding some areas. So, my point is, take a break this year and go for it again next year. :) I say, hammock time!

Sharon Rudd said...

Awww, Fishy, so sorry to hear of your garden disappointments. We have had way more than enough rain here, and I would gladly send you some if I could.

And too bad about your mother's violent violet allergy. I had no idea purple hydrangeas were a sign of bad PH, but I think Aunty's right that those blooms would brighten someone's day.

I also love it that Angus has a St. Francis marker and is planted over in the lemon balm. What a lovely, itch-free resting place.

Hang tough, and wait for the seasons (and, I hope, Blowfish's mood) to take a turn for the better.


Sharon Rudd said...

Fishy, just saw this article and thought of you.

moi said...

Haiku winner is UP!

sparringK9 said...

terrible terrible situation. I understand how this feels! I hate it for you, for blowfish. I miss the tractor too and i just met it. Fungus is no joke its very heard to deal with. I dont have any advice as I have my own failures this summer -it has been a bad one. either drought or deluge. and i have a hideous weed taking over my field too that i plan to kill of with chemicals this fall.

think i will just get in a hammock as well. wishing you peace, fishy.

i dont hate those hydrangeas by the way. they look pretty good actually. but i uderstand about honoring your mom.

fishy said...

I soooo appreciate you giving us the SD vacation tour. Wonderful!

Thanks for the commiserating and the link which I will visit shortly.

entertaining subject and judging.
Again :-)

Blowfish is happier now that his tractor is back home. I shared with him Buzz's comment so he went out to turn over a shovel full of dirt and there did appear a grub.
A few hours later he was out there with a get rid of grubs sprayer so the war for the front yard is on. So is the drought.Have mercy!!!!

The problem with this seasons drought is the earth is so hard it is non-absorptive. Thus, when the occasional flash storm comes through it's a total run off loss. It's enough to make a person despair.

Fungus is hard, although I like the Natria products from Bayer aAvanced. It's pricey but it won't kill the wildlife that lives here at the Pond. The folks over at the extension office were helpful as there are different things to do if the fungus is soil based, root based or foliage based.

Sorry to hear you've had isssues in your kingdom too. One of the botanists told me the very best way to rid your yard of broad leaf weeds is to put vinegar in a spray bottle and lightly spray the leaves. Don't saturate as then the capillaries close and the vinegar is kept to the surface.
She said it can be done any time of year.

I know there are lots of people who will never understand about the Hydrangeas and the color purple. But every morning I went outside and flinched with guilt.

Aunty Belle said...

Come see mah design gripe--see if ya agree.