Sunday, September 13, 2015

Saying goodbye

It's time to pull the trigger.

Some of my plants are not performing or are getting to be invasive. I've been in denial about some of them for years but it's time.

On the Pharm (front yard), I have two different problems:

The Aster 'Alma Potschke' has something wrong with it. I've been in denial about this plant for about five years or so. I used to think that the brown leaves and stems were indicating that it needed more water, but even in years when I watered it a lot, it still looked like this.

The entire bottom of the plant looks dead.

Leaves turning yellow

As a primary part of the front garden, and a plant you see as you walk up to my house, I just can't keep this ugliness around anymore. I don't know if it's a fungus or what, but it's got to go, which is too bad because when it's in bloom, it's a bright, eye-catching plant. So now I'm on the hunt for a medium-size, fall (or repeat) blooming perennial.

On the side of my front porch, I've had two very vigorous silver lace vines. They climbed up a trellis, kept the front door cool in the summer, and were only a pain when I had to cut them down at the end of the year because they were SO big.

In better times.

This is how the vines did this year:

The remaining vine on the left.

I accidentally pulled one out while weeding, which shows how dead it was. The other, as you can see, is still in the ground but doing absolutely nothing. Maybe this past winter, one of the coldest on record, was too much for them. In any case, now I'm on the hunt for a (vigorous but not overly so) vine for this area for next year.

In the back yard, I have a potential disease problem and an invasive problem.

I'm scared to even write this, lest it really be true: I think all of my echinacea have aster yellows. I first noticed it a few years ago in the front yard and pulled out the offending plants. But then this year, it seemed like every single one - front yard, side, back yard - had the tell-tale puff of green on the seed head.

Last year. In better times.

This is how they look right now:

They all fizzled out a couple of weeks earlier than last year. It's possible that that's due to the dry conditions this summer. I really like echinacea. They're a staple of my garden and I don't want to have to rip them all out. I'll continue to monitor them and hope for the best next year, though I suspect I'll be talking about being in denial next fall as I rip them out.

The spiderwort in the back yard are now getting invasive. I'm finding them in the hell strip by the road, for crying out loud. I have 5-6 of them evenly spaced in the back yard and, in late spring, they're often the only thing in bloom.

Two different colors, on the left and right, still in bloom in summer.

When they die, though, they leave big gaping spaces that I've been working on trying to hide (somewhat unsuccessfully). I don't think I'll be too sad to see these go, especially since it will probably take me a few years to completely rid my gardens of them.  In their place, I need to find any sort of late spring/early summer perennial that doesn't look like death after it's done blooming for the year.

They've provided me with more joy than inconvenience, but it's time to cut the cord (and it's a great excuse for fall plant shopping).

Monday, September 7, 2015

So much to say, so much to say...

I've been making blog posts in my head for months but never actually got them down on paper the screen. For example, I was going to talk about how most of my summer, I spent my days off volunteering and was so busy with that, then segue into the volunteer flowers that popped up in my garden. Get it? Or that I didn't have time to post a bloom-day post in July because on impulse, I rescued my little friend from the city's animal shelter the day she was to be euthanized for space, and fostered her for a few weeks until we found her a forever family. Three dogs is a lot. A lot a lot.

Foster puppy on the left, learning how to sit with my two goofballs.

Maybe it's best that those posts stayed in my head!


It's so hot and dry. Late spring and early summer started off with higher than average rainfall, but August brought less than an inch of rain during the entire month. I try to water my perennials as infrequently as I can most years but have had to turn the sprinkler on them several times in the past weeks to keep them from keeling over.


I planted milkweed last fall and when it came up this year - surprise! A monarch found it! YES!

Not milkweed, but the monarch liked the hibiscus as well.

And then the orange aphids found it too, and I couldn't get them off with natural controls so I cut the plant down. I hope it grows back next year.


My neighbor got a new fence. She went from a DIY metal one (first pic) that I was sure her tiny dog was going to get through to a wooden one. I like it a lot. I'm slightly worried that it means a little less sun in that area because of the fence shadow, but I'll make it work.

Old fence

New fence


The caryopteris x clandonensis 'White Surprise' that I ordered and planted last fall, partially for its variegated foliage, is growing in....not variegated. I feel like this like the time when we got a puppy when I was a kid. I asked my mom when she'd learn to pee lifting her leg like other dogs. I was missing some common sense then, and feel like I'm missing something obvious now.

Not a whole lotta variegation going on now.

I'm starting to compile my fall plant order. Spreadsheets abound! Are you ordering anything fun for next year?