Sunday, July 20, 2014

The random musings of July.

I was actually looking forward to two full days of rain, and the clearing of the humidity but I was gypped. Sure there were showers, but nothing could pull the wetness out of the sky enough, and as I donned my white cotton bee suit to add two more supers onto my original beehive and my swarm hive, the sweat rolled down my temples – and it wasn’t even 10 am. I have a lot of work to do in the garden, but the humidity is melting me and making me cranky. I did rip out the lettuce that bolted last week and I did harvest my garlic. I probably should have left some of the smaller heads in for another week, but I knew if I didn’t do it now it wouldn’t happen.

Lots of things in my life are like that. I need to do it when it comes to mind, or it won’t get done. I need to pay the bill the day I receive it (or within the week) or it will be buried in a pile somewhere. I need to weed the beds when I notice they are getting overwhelmed.


Well I didn’t do that with the pear tree bed and now that I finally ripped out all the Hesperis (Sweet Rocket) I am left with a few really gaping holes. I love Hesperis, in both its purple and the white shades and I adore the way it fills the beds in my garden, but it always seems to swamp its neighbors and suffocate them. This year it’s done in a couple Nepeta ‘Joanna Reed’, a Platycodon ‘Fuji Blue’ and a number of Echinacea ‘Milkshake.’ You would think I’d learn.  I am torn over Hesperis – like the English, I’m quite mad about the flower – but in my garden they can become the most hideous of invasive thugs and they suffocate anything that’s on either side of them with wild abandon.

What I really should be doing is only allowing them back in the shrub gardens I’m just starting in the back and use them to keep the other weeds down. How brilliant would that be? So, since they are biennials, I need to gather up the seeds of the plants I still have remaining and scattered them into the far back beds. Those beds have the most dismal of soils, pure orange sand and rocks, with a layer of wood chips on top, so I’ll have to lay down some purchased soil for my Sweet Rocket to start in. I’m actually going to have to do the bags of soil thing anyway since Marders cornered the market on Asclepias Incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) plugs for a job that never happened and now they are selling the trays for ½ price.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, plants from the asclepias family are where Monarch butterflies feed and lay their eggs, and since the Monarchs are in deep trouble, we all need a patch of Asclepias for them to find if they venture into our backyards. I have the cultivar ‘Ice Ballet’ in two of my beds already, and it’s white (deer resistant) flowers are perfect already, but I’m going to use the pink in those back shrub border beds in large swathes.

I am always telling people that they need to plant things in large masses, and I am trying to follow my own advice, but I’ve been bringing home sick and broken plants and using those to fill the back beds. It’s a bad habit I can’t seem to break. This is how one ends up with a hodge-podge, and If I’m not careful it’s going to look terrible. Luckily I’m also shopping the half-price table, which means that if I do find 10 of something it’s priced so that I can bring them all home (hello Uvularia Grandiflora!) The Asclepias Incarnata I’m getting at half price is a really good clear pink, not the dirty dusty rose of the Common Milkweed and it can handle wet feet which means it’s more versatile then the Asclepias Tuberosa that must remain dry.  You get fifty plants in a tray and I’m thinking of bringing home three. How’s that for massing?

And speaking of things that need doing when they come to mind, what I really should be focusing on is digging up all the daylilies from the front bed that have become or reverted to the common roadside daylily. I don’t remember ever planting these flowers, instead I remember buying expensive clumps right out of the fields of the daylily grower that used to live in Watermill. I choose my daylilies for their rose and pink and melon pastel colors. But after years of heavy deer pressure those are all gone now and all I’m left with is this orange I don’t want. I should dig them up while they are in flower so I know I’m getting rid of the right ones and keeping the few sorbet flavored ones I have left. Not that it’s going to happen anytime soon, but I did just go out and buy my lottery tickets for the month on the off chance that I could quit my job and just read and write and paint and cook and garden.  Sigh.

Oh well, I’m off to harvest the handful of haricot vert beans that are ready. For some reason only a few of the seeds took. I’m quite unhappy about it, but we all know how bad I am at starting seeds, so I will have to put a chunk of those lottery funds into the most marvelous of greenhouses so I can do better. That’s if I win, of course.

Paige Patterson found a dead baby possum that was so incredibly beautiful, she wanted to paint it, but it was way too smelly to bring into the house and her painting studio is still a pipe dream.