Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Garden Detente: Garden Setbacks

“If you are going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill

Winter 2013-14 was especially long and cold in the Midwest
Winter may have been especially rough on your gardens, leaving bare desolate ground which was overflowing with colorful mums just the previous autumn . Spring storms may have sent hail stones through your hosta leaves and winds that shredded your peonies and broke off flower stalks of all kinds. Summer drought and early frosts. The list of garden defeats goes on and on. I know. I've been through it all and have lived to tell though my delphiniums and lupines have not.

Rich mulch where my trolleus used to be
See bare spots as new opportunities. Take the time to amend the soil there.   Use this as chance to practice the repeated color rule by dividing overgrown, crowded perennials and spreading them out in clusters of threes or fives, giving a feeling of continuity to the border.

Hostas are one of the  deer's  favorites
Spring damage goes with the territory. That goes the same for deer damage.Trim off the worst of the damaged leaves that are In full view. Also, flowers, though beautiful, sap energy from plants. Trim back those stalks and flower heads and your plants will be fuller and healthier and will most likely have secondary blooms.

I plan to buy the kit to convert this 50 gal. drum to a rain barrel
Summer drought is especially rough on the garden. Is this occurring more frequently in your area? Take measures to ensure you'll have a sustainable garden like rain barrels and drought tolerant plants. Plant a rain garden. Even if your area is usually lush and verdant, a drought can quickly weaken your plants, making them less resistant to pests and disease. Watering is often restricted and rightly so. Water should be reserved for the highest priority needs. Even when you're allowed to water, prioritize your own water needs. Water trees and plants that would be hard to replace. Be smart about water use in your home such as using rinse water to water potted plants.  Make use of cardboard, newspaper and straw to hold in moisture around vegetables. You can use similar strategies in the flower beds using mulch but don't over do it.

Finally, the early frost, it can take us by surprise. It often does, turning beautiful fall colors to dead shades of brown and black. It cuts our plans short or rushes our harvests. It sends us scrambling for row covers, sheets and pretty much anything we can lay our hands on if we're lucky enough to hear the warning on the news of a possible dip in temperatures. That usually only gives us a few extra days to finish up. Sometimes, just letting the inevitable happen is easier. Then we're on to the fall cleanup and before we know it the gardening catalogs are showing up in the mail again.
The staunchest and hardiest of gardeners will agree with Winston Churchill.
“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” -W.C.

I tend to lean toward Demosthenes who said, "Live to fight another day."

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