Friday, September 30, 2011

Triumphs and Tragedies

I'm sure I've said this numerous times but so often wherever there is triumph there is also tragedy.  They seem to go hand in hand like beer and nachos. 

I finally managed to get every last perennial into the entrance bed.  It's only taken me something like 3 months but the job's finally done.  Time to relax?  Nope.  Now I can concentrate on planting bulbs!!

I've had a few moments in the last week or two when I've wished the gardening season was over.  Anyone else ever get that feeling?  The thought of digging in 100+ bulbs just seems like too much right now.

Tuesday night I pondered whether to put blankets on my plants as the weather seemed overly chilly.  But when I checked the Weather channel they were reporting temperatures would only go down to 6 degrees celcius. 

The reality Wednesday morning was that temperatures went down to 2 degrees.  I really should have gone out and covered up some plants.  The squash and nasturtium are a bit fried from their chilly encounter.  However, triumphantly, the dahlias and peppers all survived to bloom another day.

Bless their little pink hearts these hollyhocks are trying to bloom.

These were planted from seed this spring and generally they do not bloom the first year so this is a bonus.  Unfortunately I thought these flowers were meant to be RED.  Now my planting combination doesn't seem quite so smart.  Worse, I discovered why there were yellow dots all over the leaves.

Turns out my new hollyhocks have rust.  Of course.  In a summer when it seems everyone in my community lost their tomatoes to blight it stands to reason that rust would also abound.  Well, at least I now know it's a fungus and not just my lack of watering.

Does anyone have advice on how best to deal with hollyhock rust?


  1. Once they get rust, which is pretty common for Hollyhock, there is not much that works to alleviate the progression in my experience. You fight the favorable weather for it. Just wait for better luck next year. Our temps are dropping too and a lot will change here in the next couple of days. Snow flurries are predicted a little South of here.

  2. Marguerite I am thinking a gardeners work is never done, there is always some thing new to do before you finish the last task, I didn't order any bulbs this year even though I would have loved to, the way our weather has been I still have not dug up all the clumps of daffodils I've been trying to replant the last 2 years now, good luck, Frances

  3. ok so why did the rest of island threads disappear???

  4. There is something about triumphs and tragedies -- I always love reading about the things that worked out great in your garden, offset by the bad stuff that always happens. I like how you always see the balance! Very nice long shot of your frosty yard and gardens, it is all filling in.

  5. Marguerite, Having purchased your spring bulbs puts you way ahead of me! I need to get my act in gear this year or I will again be embarrassed to confess that I am planting bulbs in November. I have just a few boxes of tulips and daffodils purchased and that's it so far! Enjoy the weekend!

  6. Thanks Donna, I think I'll cut back the affected portions and see how we do next year. This has been a bad year for humidity. On the west coast rust was never an issue but there's little to no humidity there.

    Frances - I had to double check that comment, who is "i" I wondered? I actually hadn't planned on bulbs this year but someone gifted me with tulips and hyacinths so I figured if I was going to plant those I might as well go ahead and get the squill too. I'm sure I"ll be pleased come next spring but right now all I can see if more work.

    Laurrie - some weeks it feels all bad or all good. I guess it reflects my mood. But when I really consider it there is always something to balance it out.

    Jennifer - I was lucky last week to spot half price bulbs in a store. Between those and the tulips that were gifted to me for my birthday I found myself with loads of bulbs.

  7. I've always heard that the only way to get rid of rust was to pull the plant and then plant another hollyhock in a different location. I don't like planting bulbs, either! This year I'm growing my tulips in pots since their fading foliage always smothers the surrounding plants.

  8. I don't know about the rust - my problem with hollyhocks has always been ants - why do ants love to live in my hollyhocks??
    Yes to the squill!! You'll be so happy to see them next spring (or earlier!)

  9. Oh, how can the weathermen be so wrong and keep their jobs. Don't they know there are gardens out there in peril? Sheesh.

    Looked up the rust thing and found this from fine gardening. Not good news. I had a boss once that told us it was from the snapdragons but I later realized snapdragons were not her favorite flower. Somehow the hollyhocks managed to reseed in the gardens, somehow...

  10. I know nothing about rust, but I definitely feel you on the 'time for gardening to be over.' We have the option here for it never to be over, and just the other day someone at the local nursery was trying to talk me into doing some winter vegetable gardening! No thanks, I told him. Its planting season now, and when it ends in November, I am done til March.

  11. TS - I wondered if the location was possibly an issue but I planted another variety of hollyhock (double lavender flowers) in another location with much more space and they've got rust too. I think this was just a poor summer weatherwise for these plants.

    Jane - I think you're right. I'll appreciate the blue flowers in spring even though I'm dreading the task now.

    Tufa - Thanks for the article. It sure doesn't sound good. I think I'll clean up the bed and see how things proceed next year. If this continues to be a problem the plants will get pulled. I can't be bothered to deal with finicky flowers.

    Jess - as much as I love gardening our short seasons here make it a non stop activity all summer trying to cram all the projects in. I think a longer season would suit me better. But having an inside break is nice, time to catch up on my reading!

  12. Marguerite girl .. I didn't read the above replies (in a bit of a rush) they may have answered your question about rust .. all I have is my own experience .. the first few years here I had hollyhocks and some other plants that LOVED rust .. so I got rid of each one gradually because it stays in the neighbourhood forever passing on to each garden .. I can't tell you how many plants that left this garden .. sadly my serviceberry tree is going to be the last one hopefully .. fruiting plants and trees here are a mess, so I have thrown the towel in on that kind.
    Ebb and flow of that "garden feeling" HAPPENS to us all .. so don't worry if you get totally fed up and want to toss in the towel .. that feeling will pass .. in fact yesterday my son gave me a fantastic book on herbs and I got so excited it was ridiculous .. I am already planning next years garden with a lot more ZEST !! LOL
    I also have bulbs to plant .. but not as many as you ;-) we can get through this girl ! LOL

  13. Brrr! 2 degrees! And here we are still having 90 degree days - and I'm just now able to go outside and start gardening again! If I had been gardening all summer, I would be tired of it, too. I've got bulbs to plant, too. But unlike you, there is not any big hurry here - I don't know how you dig in frozen soil like that!

  14. I know exactly what you mean - you can turn round at this time of year and just see endless "things I should be doing" in the garden. I think the trick is to break it down into bite sized chunks and remember to enjoy things in between - like flowers surviving a frosting. Sorry about your hollyhock rust.

  15. Joy - it affects the Serviceberry too?! I have a feeling those hollyhocks are going to get the boot right quick. That's just too much trouble to deal with.

    Holley - the soil won't stay frozen for long. Just overnight it gets chilled. We need a good long spell of cold days and nights for the ground to freeze hard so there's some time yet to get the bulbs in. It's just a bit unpleasant trying to do it in too cold of temps.

    Janet - I've decided to make a list of 'must do' chores v. things I'd like to do. It's making it easier to realize that not everything really needs doing and some things can be put off.