Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why I can’t just sit back, relax and enjoy the flowers.

I just saw my first hummingbird of the season drinking from the pink blossoms of the nepeta subsessilis that surrounds my pear tree. Spiraling round the top of each plant he visited each and every blossom until the shadow of a too close veering catbird with a mouth filled with mulberries scared him off.

Hmm, well the crows have started to hammer at the tiny rock hard pears so there will be no crop again this year and there is a squirrel that sits in the top of my weeping mulberries gorging himself each evening, fascinating both the cats and anyone else who happens to be up at the bedroom window, but eliminating my jam crop one not quite ripe berry at a time. And a chipmunk family has claimed the asparagus patch as home plate, so they’re off limits plus I’ve lost the battle for the dill to the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

Okay, so I’m happy to give up the herb in exchange for graceful emergence of yellow and black later in the summer, but I’m starting to feel a little besieged. Something is skeltonizing all my rose leaves, a miner I think, and let’s not even talk about that fact that the afore mentioned roses have their buds and new growth sheared clean off by my own personal pack of stealth deer. Now I have a lot of plants, and there’s plenty for all of us, so I have no idea why these particular deer walk right by masses of hydrangea to browse every single rose, balloon flower and phlox in the place. There’s plenty of tasty hostas for them to munch, but no, they ignore those and head straight for the daylily buds – and only the buds of the expensive specialty lilies, not the few roadside lilies that are mixed in. And for the first time, this year they’ve decided cosmos are yummy. Very upsetting, although expected.

What's disappointing is that I’m still losing the battle of the voles.

>Maybe we can try and teach the local epicures to throw a handkerchief over their heads and eat them the way they do songbirds in France, but until then I’d like to invite all the neighboring cats to a vole hunt at my house ASAP. Quickly, for those who don’t know, voles do not make the tunnels in your yard, those are made by moles, who are eating the grubs, beetles and other sundry proteins that live in your soil.

The voles then use those tunnels to get to plant roots and this is why the astibles that were perfect yesterday have done that fainting thing and lie withered in a heap in your perennial beds. Voles are vegetarians. And there is no truly effective way of getting rid of them. Trust me, I’ve tried everything.

And lets not get me started on the various scale invasions we have this year - so out of control that it’s causing some of my magnolias to die. Or the various and sundry funguses and wilts and blights that people keep asking me to identify and I keep sending up to Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead with the words, “I’m sorry but I have no idea, I’ve never seen that before.”

Did I mention my lemon balm is totally out of control? Compared to deer, rodent, insect and fungal issues an invasive herb shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I made the mistake of putting one tiny plant in years ago (forgetting that it’s in the mint family – code word highly invasive) and now I have enough to harvest as a roadside crop. What’s a girl to do with armfuls of lemon balm? I feel guilty just ripping it out - the scent is spectacular, but last time I cut and hung my invasive spearmint up to dry all it did was get mildewy and gather cobwebs and snarky comments in the kitchen.

And how do I get rid of the onion grass that’s taking over the crabgrass that has already fought back the lawn? Or the glechoma hederacea or creeping Charlie that’s running roughshod throughout the entire property? It’s official. I’m overwhelmed.

However, after doing a little research I’ve come to learn that Lemon Balm is a fantastic remedy for anxiety, so perhaps I need to open that roadside stand after all. And along with lemon balm tea I can serve barbequed vole on a stick (perhaps wrapped in onion grass?) to all the other gardeners in my neighborhood.