Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Triumphs and Tragedies

The last few weeks have been a bit of a challenge.  Hubby is still in Toronto so I am managing the house alone, which frankly, is a heck of a lot of work.  The blog has suffered and I can't remember the last time I posted a Triumph and Tragedies.  If ever there was a week to do so now is the time.

Many of you know that Hurricane Irene passed through these parts over the weekend.  Much time was spent in preparation, putting away emergency supplies in the house and cleaning up the outdoors.  Patio furniture, BBQ, flower pots and other odds and ends were packed up.  Although Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it arrived in PEI it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

The positives of this post are that myself and the cats are all okay, the house is still standing with roof intact, the shingles are still attached and the large trees are still upright.  I can't ask for anything more.

There were however some casualties.  Like this Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Lamb'.  The beautiful flowers were beheaded, one after another, lying limp or strewn across the yard.

My Plume Poppy which had reached heights of six feet tall this year just cannot handle wind.  I thought it would be safer behind the garage and moved it there in the spring but the wind found it anyway.

Plume poppy is now laying across the bed covering hostas and hollyhocks
The heavy tall plants collapsed and the roots were pulled right out of the ground.
The plant will need to be cut right down at this point.  This is the one time where the invasive nature of the Plume Poppy will come in handy as it should have no trouble regrowing next spring.

In the back bed dahlias full of buds that had not yet opened broke off at the base of the plant.

On and on it goes.  Shrubs with broken branches, perennials falling over, tomatoes collapsed.  It was a hard walk around the garden last night.  The apple orchard was the worst though.  See the small tree in the photo below, loaded with bright apples.  They were several weeks away from ripening.

The photo below is from last night.  Only a couple apples remain in the branches.

All blown away.  Worse, when I inspected the tree I discovered part of the reason.  This tree grows out of an old stump and I suppose the base was not that stable.  Closer inspection revealed this.

The tree is broken at the base.  I haven't had time to deal with it yet but I suspect the entire tree will need to be removed.  Honestly I think the weeds are the only thing holding it up.  This is such a shame because this tree was producing really lovely large apples and the tree itself wasn't too large so it was easy to pick.  It also creates another problem.  I had planned this bed with the idea this tree would create shade for several plants and now I'm going to need to rethink my strategy.

The rest of the orchard did not fare much better.  A step under the tree canopy revealed this.

Those are apples that you see.  Lots and lots and lots of apples.  The ground is covered with them.  Every tree shed about half its load and none of these apples are ripe.  They are all weeks away from being ready and now they are exceedingly bruised too. 

The sight of so many apples on the ground was just downright depressing but I'm also worried about the apples left in the trees.  Being tossed around in the wind, knocking against branches and other apples can cause a lot of damage.  It really hit me last night how farmers must feel.  You work so hard and then lose it all in the single day.  I am not reliant on this orchard for money so my loss is only a personal one.  But I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to be reliant on mother nature and it wasn't pleasant. 

Rather than leave you on that hugely depressing note I'm including a photo of a sunflower.  They suffered a few broken branches but remained standing for the most part (although they have a serious lean on them now).

This pretty face belongs to Ruby Eclipse, a cutting sunflower I purchased from Veseys this spring.  It's pretty hard to not be lifted up by such beauty.


  1. Hi Marguerite,
    I am glad to read that you came through the storm without any serious damage to the house or trees. It is heartbreaking about the apples though! I agree that it would be hard as a farmer to see the crop, which you rely on for income, be destroyed in a single storm. It would be devastating.
    On a brighter note, I really like the Ruby Eclipse sunflower. It is a striking beauty and a nice change from standard yellow sunflowers ( although they are pretty too).
    P.S. I made an impulse purchase the other day and bought a Plume Poppy. I fell in love with the grey leaves that caught the afternoon sun so wonderfully. Usually, I try to research plants before purchase to make sure I am not inviting "trouble" into the garden. It is invasive! Yikes! I am so glad I read your post. Now, I will plant it more carefully.

  2. I'm so glad to hear you weathered the storm relatively unscathed. It can be heartbreaking to see the damage Mother Nature can inflict but I guess it's all part of the gardening process. I'm glad you were able to still focus on some of the beauty that's left behind. Before you know it, the storm will be a distant memory.

  3. Sorry your garden suffered the wrath of Irene, but I am glad you are safe and unharmed. That's a lot of apples on the ground! You are right - it must be terribly hard to be a farmer at the mercy of Mother Nature. I hope you enjoy planning a new area if the tree has to go.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about the damage to your plants and garden. It is sad to watch things grow and develop, and then to have them demolished in one hurricane. Mother Nature is amazingly fierce sometimes....glad all of you are OK.

  5. Marguerite,
    I'm sorry to hear you had so much damage. It's heartbreaking and especially your apple tree damage.
    We also had some plant and tree damage but like you said it could have been a lot worse.
    Your Ruby Eclipse is such a beauty.
    Veseys have quite a variety of sunflowers. Autumn beauty is quite nice also.
    Glad your house is still standing,I'm always worried about the trees falling down on ours.

  6. You had so much more wind damage than we did down here in southern New England (our issues are flooding in many parts). It is disheartening to see those apples all over the ground, but you are lucky the trees did not break apart. In the old orchard I grew up in, every time we had bad storms the low-branching apple trees collapsed and big limbs broke off.

    I'm glad you and the house are ok. How difficult to see all that damage in the garden, though.

  7. oh Jennifer, I know exactly why you fell in love with that plant. The leaves are amazing. interesting shape and edged in purple. It's why I can't bear to be rid of it. But it's also trouble. When I pulled it from the front garden this spring it had spread far and wide. Easy to pull out but lots and lots of running roots. I'm hoping that in a smaller bed as the main plant it will be easier to manage but only time will tell.

    Debbie - I was pretty upset at the time but you're right, gardens have a process where plants die and things change all the time so I'll just move on and soon it will be forgotten.

    Holley - Although I really liked that little apple tree I must admit I already have an idea of what will replace it. Can't keep a gardener down for long!

    Sage Butterfly - I was just amazed at how much damage occurred here and so little in other places on the island. Hurricanes are really baffling to me. They change direction and speed so quickly and damage seems to happen in pockets.

    Witch - I worry about trees coming down on the house too. Probably my biggest fear is our old birches giving way. or the roof coming off. Either one would be pretty bad! I had a hard time choosing sunflowers to plant, Veseys must have 20 different varieties. I finally settled on the red ones but I also planted some giants. Those haven't even begun to bloom yet though. I think the weather just hasn't been warm enough.

    Laurrie - apparently depending on which side of the hurricane you fall on you will experience either more wind or more rain. In our case we fell to the east of the hurricane and experienced not much rain but lots of wind. I was surprised there weren't more broken branches in the orchard but perhaps our winter pruning helped keep the damage at bay.

  8. gosh Marguerite your garden damage is much worse than mine, though I have no apple trees, glad you and your home are safe I always think that's the main thing, it's sad about the little apple tree as it was a good size, as you say we are not reliant on crops for an income, when we had the gales in May a lot of farmers in south Scotland lost early crops (there aren't any in northern Scotland due to the mountains and lack of much soil), it makes for a hard life yet people expect cheap food,

    I like your cheery sunflower and your lovely yellow and white bouquet in the previous post,

  9. You're okay, the cats are okay, hubby was (probably) unscathed in Toronto. That is what counts! Yes, those of us who love our plants can get depressed but it's part of the cycle of life. Mother Nature happens...

  10. Am so glad to hear that you and your house are OK, but so sad for you having to face the damage. I'm glad you have the sunflowers to offer some cheer.

  11. Marguerite,
    I was so hoping Irene would have pooped out before reaching you. Glad to hear the roof and structures are intact. I so totally understand what a storm can do as we seem to get at least one really good wallop of somekind or another each year. I used to try to grow a backyard full of poppies, each year about the time for their bloom there would come a rain/hail storm and flatten them. Mother Nature thinning things out a bit.

  12. I am so happy to hear that you are OK after this horrible storm. And it's hard, sad, and terrible the damage it has created.

    On one hand there is a sense of relief that you are fine, and on the other, a sense of sadness at the loss of all those beautiful plants...so sorry.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  13. Frances - it always bothers me when people expect their food to be cheap. It's one of our most basic needs, why wouldn't we pay top dollar for it?

    Aagaard Farms - such a positive attitude and you're absolutely right. Mother nature is a fickle lady and this was small peanuts compared to what could have happened.

    Janet - bless flowers for always bringing a smile to my face.

  14. Tufa - me too! I really wasn't expecting Irene to do much damage. I guess that's why I was so put out when I realized what had happened.

    Thanks Jen. It certainly put a damper on my day but I'm getting past it now. There's always something to be found in the garden to make me happy again.

  15. Marguerite girl .. I am so sorry the storm was still so strong it did this much damage .. yes, I think if we all had a taste as to what farmers go through, we would better appreciate what we buy at the grocery store. All those lovely apples and that wonderful tree .. maybe you can replace it with an even better one ? I grew Plume Poppy a few years ago and it can be a stickler for sure ! now I have Green Panda bamboo in the same spot .. hum ? was this a wise choice ?LOL .. That is one gorgeous sunflower .. I will have to keep that one in mind for sure. It is nice to close on a positive note .. you know that saying .. it could always be worse ;-)

  16. Can you take cuttings, or maybe do grafts from the little apple tree? Glad you are battered, but OK!

  17. Joy you make me laugh replacing one invasive with another! I do love that plume poppy despite it's traveling tendencies. The leaves are just outrageous, so big and fantastic colour.

    Diana - I really don't know anything about grafting but this might be the time to learn?

  18. I'm glad you guys made it through safely. It's heartbreaking to see all those lost apples and downed tree.

  19. Marguerite, I'm sorry to hear that you were hit so hard by Irene. My neighbors in Maine tell me that my garden and house came through unscathed -- which is a minor miracle for which I am very grateful. Adams County, PA (my academic year home) is prime apple growing country and, although we're far enough inland to have just been brushed by the fringes of Irene, there is concern here too about harvest lost from apples being ripped off the trees by wind. -Jean

  20. Oh dear, that storm was really far reaching. When you go out and inspect the damage I know your heart just sinks. Mother Nature is resilient, by next year you will not see much evidence of Miss Irene.