I could not go back to sleep this morning, so I got out of bed at 6:38. Or, maybe it was 5:38. David says it was early. The sun has not yet risen or the earth has not rotated or whatever. Newt Gingrich may want to colonize the moon, but I just want to see the sun. “Not likely,” David reports from the living room where he has turned to the weather channel. He watches the weather channel a lot.
I called WFF yesterday to complain about the Caladiums that died and the begonia corms that never sprouted. I put the Caladiums in the same pots as last year and have not watered them, but they became water-logged and died. The corms did not grow even though I watched the video 3 times and did exactly what the gardener on the tape recommended. WFF is sending replacements for some items and giving me a credit for others, although it was not their fault, nor mine. They don’t argue, they just replace or credit my account. That’s why I go back to them year after year, although their plant stock is a bit pricy compared with local big box stores.
Neighbor Mel, came by with his daughter Mary Ann driving his car yesterday. His dog was asleep on the front seat. Mary Ann is a social worker, her sister a nurse. The daughters take turns coming up from South Carolina to check on their parents ages 88 and 86. Mel has not been able to walk his dog lately, so they took her out for a spin. According to Mary Ann, her parents are “not eating right” and “not taking care of themselves.” She wants them to move to South Carolina to be near her.
David immediately launched into “awful South Carolina” until I sushed him. David, a native of NC says, “That’s what my Dad always said.” Maybe he knew Strom Thurmond, says Mary Ann. I reminded David he had left the lawn mower in the middle of the yard. It’s not a big lawn, about the size of a putting green, and David keeps it looking ”like the 19th hole” as he puts it.
Mary Ann said Mel had turned his back yard into a vegetable patch. “So are you going to have a veggie stand out front?” I asked Mel. He laughed, but Mary Ann said, “Come by anytime. If they aren’t home just go out back and pick your own.” I wish him luck.
Mel’s yard, like ours is shaded by neighbor’s trees part of the day, and veggies like their sun. However, Dawn, the older lady who lives on Mel’s south side, has turned her back yard into a vegetable patch and is growing many things. I gave her my tomato cages when I stopped using them, and last year she brought me some vine ripened tomatoes in late summer.
Mary Ann and Mel drove off, and David went back to the lawn and I went back to swoeing my front garden which these days is a mere fringe of what it once was. Where I once grew green beans, carrots, and tomatoes, and even cantaloupe we now grow grass. The fringe area of the yard holds my “sunny” perennial bed. We made the transition from gardens to grass a few years ago because not much will grow in the limited sunshine.
The front yard sits on the north side of the house and most of the year, the shadow of the house and the trees next door keep much of the yard shaded. Fortunately, enough sun shines in the early morning to grow grass, so we have a decent front yard.
These days, I pull out plants that fail to thrive, and put new ones in. I call it gardening by trial and error. A different and ‘new’ insect attacked my garden last year, and when I was pulling up the volunteer Phlox seedlings yesterday, I noticed the insect was back with a vengeance. We had removed the Phlox last fall because the insect loved it, but I never removed the dahlia tubers, although they were badly eaten. I thought the tubers would be killed by the cold last winter, but the cold never materialized and the dahlias have returned. They make an unsightly but efficient insect magnet, but I will remove the remaining tubers.
We planted Coreopsis (WFF photo above) in the empty spaces left by the departing phlox. Coreopsis are stinky daisy-like herb in the aster family. Hopefully the insects will dislike them, but these nasty little creatures may like pretty but nasty smelling flowers.
I use an organic insecticide spray containing neem on some perennials, but spraying the whole garden is difficult with my aching shoulder. Excepting the dahlias, I have left the perennials the insects don’t eat, such as the pink Japanese Anemone, which nothing eats, pink and white Echinacea the Goldfinch like, and the peonies which bloom early. I cut the Peonies down completely after the leaves turn brown around July. By fall the blue balloon flowers and plumbago are in bloom, the latter makes a nice ground cover. I have been replanting Echinacea, a drought tolerant flower, every year, and this year added the Coreopsis to replace the Phlox. If the insects return in large numbers and eat the new perennials, I may give up the perennial bed and turn to shrubs. Too much rain encourages the insects.