Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just ordered these alcea perennials (aka perennial hollyhocks) from White Flower Farm. I really hope they last for years and years.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Again with the sedum

Something is eating my sedum again. Last year, the plants made it through the summer pretty unscathed, but this year big chunks are already missing from the leaves.

I have seen ants, teeny tiny black bugs (smaller than a pinhead) and ladybugs on them. I know we have slugs here and there.

My first guess is that the black bugs are aphids. Ladybugs eat aphids, which might explain why I've seen the pretty red bugs around lately. Apparently there are even black sedum aphids (see here). I have aphids on my daylilies, though, and they leave dead brown spots where they've been eating. What's happening now is more like bites are being taken out of the leaves. So my second guess is slugs. Jerks.

My plan of attack (shh! don't tell the pests!) is threefold:

First, I was going to chop the sedum this weekend anyway to prevent them from blooming too early. To attack the aphids, I'm also going to squirt them with some dish soap + water. Finally, I'll make a slug beer trap and leave it out around the plant to see if I catch any of the slimy guys. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 18, 2012


I've been working in the yard for about two hours this morning. Already I've smashed into the porch trellis with my arm, creating a nice bruise; almost took my head off walking into a hanging basket; and just bashed my elbow on the back door handle. I'm not sure how I've managed to live in this world without any major broken bones or accidents - I obviously have no sense of space and where I fit in.

Any guesses as to how many more injuries I'll incur today?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet

I am not a rose person. I have never enjoyed getting them in flower bouquets. I thought they were cheesy when my high school boyfriend got them for me And as a gardener, I've always shied away from them because I was afraid they were too high maintenance.

I was right.

When we bought our house, there was a large rose bush that was entangled in an arbor. I ignored it, it bloomed twice each summer, and I thought I'd been wrong about how difficult roses were to maintain.

On a whim a couple of years ago, I bought another rose, Rosa 'Secret'. It has one of the most intensely fragrant scents I've ever smelled in any flower, let alone roses. It's a hybrid tea rose and wouldn't get too large for our small city garden. I planted it in full sun and left it alone to do its thing, thinking it'd be as easy to maintain as the one by the arbor.

But oh god! This rose! If it didn't smell so good, I'd have trashed the thing years ago. Every year it seems that the day its leaves form fully it is immediately plagued with black spot. I think it also has rust. I just removed about a hundred aphids via hose. The stems look like they're about to wither and die.

I don't really want to use chemicals. A neighbor with beautiful roses suggested a systemic granular product, but it seems those protect against bugs and not disease. For now, I'll just cut off the diseased leaves (i.e., all of them) and let it look naked.

My poor ghetto rose. You're ugly on the outside but really sweet if people get close to you:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Big dahlias, little yard

It's tough having big dreams for a small yard. I'm really restricted by what I can do. I was reminded of that again today as I was trying to plant some dahlia tubers and gladiolus and ranunculus bulbs. Nowhere left to put them!

Last year, I sort of tossed my dahlia tubers into a hole and hoped they would grow. Boy did they! They were massive plants - they would have been at least 5 feet tall if I'd staked them properly. They were prolific bloomers and provided many vases with beautiful cut flowers. This year, I tried to be cognizant of their needs. You know what that means - they won't grow! I divided some of them to give to my neighbor and hope I didn't destroy them. I just pulled them apart instead of doing what the experts in this video recommend:


I think they're hardier than they get credit for, though. I dug up all of my tubers in the fall and overwintered them in the basement. But what did I spy already a foot tall in the front yard? A dahlia. I'm guessing that I missed a piece of a tuber last fall and the mild winter didn't turn it to mush. Should be interesting to see what it does.

Tomorrow's To Do list:
* Stake the new eastern redbud before it falls over
* Buy the remainder of the fence finials and put them on the fence posts
* Turn over some more land at the off-site veggie garden; plant pea seedlings and peppers
* Coat the potting bench with polyurethane
* If time allows, move the St. John's Wort bush and Kerria japonica to the side yard hill


Restarting my blog as a place for more than just my garden photos, but to offer thoughts and commentary on keeping a small, urban garden.