Friday, June 10, 2011

Triumphs and Tragedies

There has been so much action in so short a time these past couple weeks.  Here's some of the highlights.

Walking into the garage several days back I was stopped in my tracks by a scent enveloping the air.  What in the world was causing it?  My garden, being so new, doesn't have much in the way of blooms.  I looked at the new back bed and spied a very small plant, with very small flowers.

Say hello to Hardy Geranium 'Samobor' (Geranium phaeum).  This was an impulse purchase last summer during the closing sale at Kent garden centre.  I think I might have paid $1 for this plant.  It stayed in a pot most of the summer as I had nowhere to place it and was finally planted into a raised vegetable bed over the winter.  When the back bed was finished in May it was moved here next to the garage door.  Serendipity.  I had no idea this plant was scented and now I get to smell those lovely flowers every time I walk into the garage.  A bonus is the lovely markings on the leaves.

Another new resident at the Corner - Meet Big Wig.

He's decided to take up permanent residence under the shed in the front garden.  We see him nearly every day working hard, digging up the June beetles, eating the slugs.  He doesn't much like us but apparently he likes our yard very much.  And we're happy to play host.

Now for the lowlights.

This lilac shrub was my first purchase for our new garden last spring.  Some of the branch tips went a bit black right after planting but it seemed to recover itself and grew substantially over it's first year.  This year I was so pleased to find blooms appearing!

Our very first lilac blooms!
But, along with the blooms black spots have reappeared and the leaves are curling.

Does anyone have an idea what the cause of this is?

The final tragedy for the week is my new purchases.  Enlargements have been made to the entrance bed and I purchased plants via mail order to fill in this space.  Unfortunately I do not seem to have a lot of luck with mail order.  Plants arrive quite dry and consist of just a small chunk of root.  Thus far the hostas and ferns seem to have survived nicely.  Some plants don't appear dead, but not quite alive either.  I'm still holding out hope for the Joe Pye Weed and Monkshood.  The real trouble is the Siberian Iris.  The box with the Iris plants accidentally got left on top of the dryer and I think I baked them.  Live and learn I suppose.


  1. I've seen pix of 'Samobor' before but never knew it was scented either. I learned the hard way about on-line nurseries. The first one I ever used sent me a box full of dead plants. The ones I use now are incredible but I don't think they ship to Canada. Check the Garden Watchdog at Dave's Garden. It's a great way to get feedback on different on-line nurseries. The one that shipped you the dried out plants should have a guarantee about the condition of their plants. Good luck!

    I think your lilacs have bug damage but I'm not sure.

  2. Most flowers only release nice scent in the dark. So I tend to miss the scent.

    We have abundance of nurseries here and need not consider online nurseries. I hope your newly purchased plants thrive in your garden.

  3. Oh dear, I had to chuckle at Big Wig, I'm glad it was the geranium that was filling the air with scent, and not him! At the moment we seem to have a brush bunny family living under the house...I should probably be grateful it's not a skunk!

    As for losing plants, it's been one of those weeks I think. I did a day of shopping at the nursery this week, and thought I was selecting the tough deer resistant varieties for the garden. I'm already one sage and an artemisia down, both nibbled all the way to the soil line! Price we pay for having curious new fawns zipping around the property I expect! ;) I hope your hostas and ferns continue to perk up...I'm going to see if I can resurrect last night's menu items from the deer buffet.

  4. You are a riot! You cooked your plants?? Too funny. I also can't imagine having Mr. Skunk in the 'Let him stay' catagory. Pee-ewww.
    I had no idea that the Geraniums were scented, will have to check the one I have.

  5. For the Lilac here's a web site that talks about black spots

    Hope that helps you.

  6. Many lilacs smell just heavenly! Although technically I could have them in my yard, they are prone to fungus here. :-( Hope you find out what's causing the problem.

  7. Those geranuims look beautiful, they must smell great too. So lucky you got to have them
    To bad about your liliac, I have a similar problem right now with one of my dalias, I wonder what happened.

  8. Marguerite, I've never grown G. phaeum. It's a lovely flower, and the fragrance is a real bonus, since most hardy geraniums don't have fragrant flowers (although many have leaves and roots that smell a lot like cilantro). You might want to stick your irises in a tub of water before you give up on them. In my experience, sibierian irises are very tough plants. A friend of mine once left some bare-root clumps by the side of the driveway in plastic bags, got distracted, and forgot about them; the following summer, they bloomed in the plastic bags! -Jean

  9. You definitely have a symphony of fragrances happening there! I thought the skunk was going to be the scent that stopped you in your tracks. Happy to hear it was the new found pleasant scent of your hardy geranium.

  10. We have a transplanted lilac that is at least 3 years old now. It finally has lovely bloom but, like yours, the blackened leaves. Hubs did some research and he said it's blight from too much rain.

    As the owners of two dogs, one blind, high energy and fearless purebred Australian Cattle Dog, we can't have any skunks dwelling nearby. But we did. Under the shed and hubs had to find a way to get him to move on last fall. If you've ever had a skunked pet, then you know it's a necessity to get those varmints far away from your property. I have a story about a rat, a stick trap and an open hole in the living room ceiling, now patched... it's funny and it's not.

    This spring is much wetter and cooler than normal. Some of our plants like it. My basil plants are dying and the ones planted much too late are not up yet.

  11. skunk!!! we don't have these over here. only mice plagues at the moment. and it's winter,so sadly lacking in flowers ,ore leaves at the moment lol I really enjoy reading about your garden :)

  12. I saw Geranium phaeum for the first time in a friend's garden and I loved the foliage. I'm glad to know it is fragrant. I'm going to have to try this plant. I love your resident Big Wig, and you got such a handsome shot of him!

  13. I never knew that this type of geranium had a scent. I'll have to pick out a few when they have there sales on. Right now I've spent a small fortune on some plants, soil and bark mulch.
    You captured a very nice shot of Mister Big Wig.
    Hope you have a Happy weekend gardening.

  14. Love the skunk! We had a resident skunk for a year and he (she?) didn't do any damage, although it did scare me frequently when I rounded corners and almost stepped on it a few times!
    It sprayed Ruby once, but she learned her lesson and left it alone after that.

  15. TS - You're right that not every mail order company is the same. CanadianGardenJoy just did a series of posts on Canadian mail order companies which was really helpful. The next time I order I'll be trying a different company and hopefully getting something that looks more like a plant than a dried out lump of root.

    One - that's interesting. I've heard before that scent is necessary for plants that might not otherwise be found. In this case the flowers are very small and I would suspect that flowers blooming at night can't be seen so they would attract pollinators with their smell.

    Claire - it's funny but I would much rather prefer the skunk to the rabbits! There are rabbits in our area and I dread the day they decide to play house in our yard. They can do a lot of damage to plants but the skunks are only interested in eating bugs.

    Janet - you wouldn't believe how toasty those plants were when I pulled them out of the box! the top of the dryer does indeed get quite warm.

    Johanna and Michelle - THANK YOU! That is exactly the problem. The weather certainly has been wet and cool but I think I will need to move this lilac to another, sunnier, part of the bed or another location altogether. There is a good amount of shade where they are now and that must be contributing to the problem.

    On My Soapbox - one of my favourite scents and the only reason I would grow lilacs. Just can't get enough of those blooms.

    fer - I had trouble with dahlias last year as well. The spot was too shady and slugs kept eating them. A transfer to a sunnier locale made all the difference.

    Jean - thanks for the spot of hope! I spent some time last night digging through the irises to see if there were any signs of growth but nothing yet. I'll give it some more time though. Who knows what may happen? I really do hope at least a couple survive, I was very excited to find this variety (Butter & Sugar)

  16. Tufa - despite having a resident skunk we never smell skunk. Isn't that funny? As long as he's not bothered by anyone there's no reason to 'sound off the alarm' so to speak. The cats completely ignore him and he disappears whenever he spots us. As long as he's residing in the shed and not the house, everyone's happy.

    I Wasn't Blogged - isn't that wonderful about blogging. Despite our late spring I've been seeing blooms for months now on my computer screen.

    Laurrie - the foliage really is the show with this plant. The flowers are pretty but so very tiny, although I do like the dark colour. I'm thinking as the plant grows, with more blooms, there will be more of an impact.

    Witch - boy do I understand the money spent on soil! We've been adding beds and topping up with compost and manure and the money is just draining away. Thank goodness for plant sales.

    Kim - another skunk lover! I feel so badly for the poor things as I always see them run down on the road. People seem to loathe them here. This skunk seems quite shy so we've been lucky and haven't had any encounters. I suppose if we had a dog it would be different but the cats could care less. In fact, our house stinks more of male tom cat than anything else. The toms seem to be travelling around a lot this spring and we've got at least 2 suitors who regularly show up to do battle with Funnyface. Now that is smelly.

  17. Between the geranium and the skunk you are surrounded by interesting scents! Be careful out there!

  18. Aagaard Farms - I'll watch my step!

  19. Hi Maruerite,
    I'd be really angry about those mail order plants and demand my money back ( which may not get me anywhere, but at least I would feel better). The dryer mishap was sad, but funny. I think my burgundy geranium is a Samobor. I didn't notice it has a scent. I will have to take a whiff next time I am in the garden. It self-seeds everywhere (which I don't mind!) Happy gardening this weekend.

  20. hey, marguerite .. long time no 'see' .. first .. me, too .. love the geranium phaeum .. i have a few in my yard for the first time and just think they are wonderfull .. the bees love 'em ..

    secondly .. my experience with the darkening, curling lilac leaves is a worm .. not sure exactly what it is, but it gets between the leaves and does the darkening, curling thing .. my best approach has been to take all those affected leaves off .. you'll start to notice fewer and fewer as the years go by ..

    great to read your blog again ..

  21. A skunk? Wow I thought maybe a rabbit, but a skunk. Hmmmmm.

    We had a very bad experience with one mistakenly being caught in a rat trap when we were kids. I can still remember the odor..

    Do you think that your lilac has leaf miner? Pick off any of the bad leaves and throw them in the garbage, not the compost, regardless.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  22. Oh I would not be too pleased to see Big Wig at my house. I run across them at the farm quite a bit, but luckily they run the other way. But the dog seems to get sprayed quite a bit. Dumb lab.

    Your poor iris. Bummer on the baking.

  23. Such a nice surprise that geranium! Not sure about the lilac as they don't grow here. Hope you have a wonderful weekend full of gardening!

  24. Jennifer - it's rather odd but the plants from this company always look like this. Just enough root and a tiny portion of the plant to get it going. Sometimes it's not an issue - the hostas I ordered are growing well - but other plants don't like this treatment. I suspect it's done for shipping purposes, and probably cheaper but I think I've finally learned my lesson and will be trying a new company next time.

    Jane - I've missed you! I've heard that about phaeum and looking forward to it self seeding. Would be nice if it was sprinkled throughout the whole bed. I will be checking the lilac again to see if any worms are residing there.

    Jen - you're right. I should be removing the infected leaves, good idea. I've been too caught up in other projects thus far but will be moving into this bed in the next week and will start taking better care of that lilac. Before I started the blog we had the misfortunate to catch a skunk in a trap. We were trapping the feral kitties for spaying and ended up with a skunk instead. I don't know how we did it but we managed to get him out without getting sprayed. A minor miracle.

    Donna - we're very lucky that we've got lots of space to easily manuvre around the skunk. As long as we don't bother him there's no problems. I don't think skunks like smelling up their own accommodations but that said, if he smells up the shed it's not that big of a deal. If he was trying to take up residence under the house it would be a different matter.

    Cat - it's been a glorious weekend. Sun all around and the temperatures are warm but not too hot - perfect for gardening!