Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Triumphs and Tragedies

It seems fitting that my first post about my garden on returning home should be a Triumphs and Tragedies.  As I looked out the window that first morning back I quickly noticed so many good and bad things at once.

The first thing I noticed was a tragedy.  I was having a hard time seeing past the weeds into my flower bed.

That's 65% weeds to 35% flowers
I could see flashes of pink and bright yellow but what was all that greenery?  The answer was thistles, dandelions, plantain and purslane.  Not to mention the compost I had spread before leaving town had sprouted!  Tomatoes, squash and lettuce were all working on a takeover.

The good news was after a couple days of clearing I saw many wonderful surprises hiding in this bed.


The pink that caught my eye were two clumps of Echinacea 'Magnus' and 'Ruby Star'.  In their second year they are filling out and gaining ground.  The bright yellow was Rudbeckia hirta, seed gifted to me from Sharon at The Willow Garden.  I started that seed in the house in the spring and thought they would be a smaller flower.  I was astounded by the huge, colourful blooms.  Some were clear yellow, others had a rosy ring and one plant is even a gorgeous burnt orange.


I was in plant love.  But it got better.  The flower garden has not failed me this year, putting out all sorts of treats to feast my eyes on.  Many plants were putting on a second show of flowers so there was anemone, hardy geraniums and astrantia to see.  As well, agastache and red valerian, which are new this year, were blooming.  My favourite find though was this gorgeous little number.


Miss Jekyll your blooms knocked my socks off.  I've seen Nigella before in other gardens but have never grown it for myself.  I thought it would be a good filler while the perennials took their time growing but I planted the seed late and nothing seemed to happen.  I thought my dreams of blue were over for the year so when I found these hiding next to the rudbeckia I was beyond excited.  They open a soft white with a tiny smidge of blue on the petals and deepen to full blue and then almost a purple before fading.  I'll be collecting the seed in the coming month so hopefully I can spread it around a bit more next spring.

Another tragedy awaited me though.  This fella looks pretty cute hiding behind the flowers


but as some of you may recall, he wasn't feeling too good when I left.  The antibiotics were obviously helping as he wasn't limping anymore but a good deal more of his fur was gone.  In fact, his whole back end is looking mighty bare (no wonder he was hiding behind the geraniums).  So another trip to the vet was required, howling in his cage all the way into town, and no answers were revealed.  The vet suspects he is over grooming due to stress.  We are hoping the stress was due to being sick and that hopefully his hair will now start to grow back in as the infection appears to be gone.

A trip to the vegetable garden brought numerous triumphs and tragedies.  I was pleased to see so many vegetables ready for the picking.  We've been eating a lot of fresh food recently.


However, how could the two of us possibly eat 7 cucumbers and 4 zucchini?  Not to mention the beans and tomatoes.  Thankfully I have some compliant coworkers who helped me out.

Another problem was the water.  Or rather lack of it.  It's been a dry dry dry summer.  Tomatoes were cracked, cilantro and dill dried out, flowers dead.

Cilantro dried out and gone to seed
I've been trying to get away without watering very much this year and it showed.  My dahlia flowers in the crescent garden should have been putting on a show around this time but hardly a bloom was to be seen.  The plants I think sacrificed blooms to save themselves.

But for every plant that showed signs of stress there were those that didn't seem to care.


From the kitchen I could see a burst of yellow down by the garage.  Closer inspection revealed the Golden Glow was blooming out of control.  It seems to have topped out around 8 feet but keeping it upright is a challenge.  The stakes I had bought to keep it upright toppled under the weight of the flowers.  Next year we need a fence to rein it in.


36 comments:

  1. Wow - those Golden Glows are stunning! They are just beautiful. And my garden has 65% weeds in it more times than not! :O I hope your cat gets better. We had one that would pull his fur out - could NOT get him to stop. We finally shaved him this summer, hoping that will stop this habit. I've never grown Nigella, but I keep saying I should. Yours is lovely.

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    1. I've been waiting to grow Nigella for years but never had a sunny enough spot so was thrilled to see blooms this year. It will definitely be planted again next year. Kitty seems to have stopped with the licking which is great, I was worried with the coming cold weather, it gets so cold here the lack of fur could mean he would freeze.

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  2. That is one big Golden Glow, I wonder if pinching it back early in the year will keep it 'under control'?
    Hope your kitty gets feeling better!!

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    1. Janet, I think you're right, cutting the golden glow back would really help but I have never figured out what the best time to cut back is. Any suggestions?

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    2. I think I would pinch it back like one pinches back mums....or... cut back in June to half its size. Not sure since I have not grown this.

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  3. Isn't it fun to come home to a garden that needs you? It looks like there were more triumphs than tragedies.

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    1. Lisa, maybe there were more triumphs or maybe I just tried to focus on those instead?

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  4. Hello Marguerite girl !
    I thought for a moment when you were talking about Mr. Geranium Kitty, things were really going to be worse .. I so hope he comes back to his full healthy self !
    Wow .. so many good things have happened with your garden .. more good than bad ! Now that is something after the summer we have had .. and another WOW ! on the height of that Golden Glow ! So pretty !
    More triumphs than tragedy here girl : )
    Joy

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    1. Joy, it seems like a minor thing that he's losing fur but since he's an outdoor cat it is actually quite serious. I joked that I might have to knit him a sweater with the cold weather beginning to come on.

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  5. Despite the weeds, you have many pretty flowers, Marguerite. I must try Nigella next year. It is so delicate and pretty. Your lavatera is blooming beautifully by the way. I think I will try to grow some white ones next year as well. I am so sorry to hear that your cat is still having health issues. Hopefully the fur will grow back now that she is getting over the infection.

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    1. Jennifer, so glad to hear the lavatera worked for you. I'll be doing a post here soon about the gladiola. Yours are blooming and they are astounding, so glad you introduced me to these.

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  6. Love the blue nigella! I have had the white variety in my garden for several years; it's great at re-seeding itself, and the birds or wind have also helped to spread it around. It's amazing, isn't it, how the weeds always manage to survive? I haven't been gone, but I haven't had much time to tend the garden lately, and I need to do some major clean-up, too.

    I do hope Kitty feels better soon; poor thing. Gorgeous sunflower!

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    1. Rose, funny thing is I was so distraught about the nigella I bought some more seed. The new packet is for white and blue flowers but I like the kind in my garden so much I'm now not sure if I want the mixed variety.

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  7. I hope Kitty feels better soon. We had a little Kitty die from Anorexia (yes, Anorexia) which was caused by stress. I'd never heard of that happening before, but by the time we found out what was happening, we just couldn't save her. Poor little thingie!

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    1. oh Sandy, what a sad thing. It's so hard with cats, they hide illness so well, tough to guess what's going on with them.

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  8. Poor kitty, I hope that he feels better, and soon. It's so hard for those little guys.

    What a lovely blue nigella, I planted two sets, and all I ever got was white, the blue were no show.

    If I had a rose that actually bloomed, it could take over the house, and I would be grateful. LOL.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts Jen. We are worried about him growing his fur back in soon, cold weather is on its way and he's one of our outdoor cats. But he appears to be more comfortable these days so we have our fingers crossed.

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  9. Your Golden Glow is stunning! Though it certainly does need some heftier support. I love rudbeckia hirta, so many lovely colours. All in all, not a bad welcome home from your garden.

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    1. Hefty is definitely one way to put it. I was thinking a fence with cement supports! Unbelievable how big and heavy that plant is but it's quite something to see.

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  10. So much color going on. The bright yellow of the Golden Glow and the deep rich hues of your blue nigellas and sunset colored rudbeckias... very nice. Despite the dry and the neglect while you were gone, you have a load of triumphs just in the beautiful colors of your late summer garden.

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    1. Laurrie, it is an eyeful of colour. The blue nigella and the orange rudbeckia are right next to one another and what a sight that is. It's actually quite pretty but I never would have thought to plant it myself.

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  11. All that green looks good to me, you could just tell folks you were growing some edibles (some folks will pay for those dandelions, plantain and purslane). I bet Kitty is on the mend if it looks healed. Just takes a bit for the fur to fill back in.

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    1. I've heard people eat purslane, can't imagine what it would taste like, maybe at some point I'll have to give it a try myself.

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  12. I think every time I go out in the garden there is a triumph and tragedy situation. You seem like you have a lot of good things happening once the weeds are cleared.

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    1. Carolyn, you're right. Once the weeds are pushed back things really started looking up.

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  13. Ah, the garden has a way to punish us when we take a break. Coming back though always gives me a fresh perspective of the yard for future improvements. Don't worry about your nigella, in a few years you will have all you want, seeds like crazy.

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    1. LOL, some days I feel like all my garden wants to do is punish me! Taking a break is somewhat forbidden isn't it?

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  14. Marguerite that is not a happy looking cat in your photo I hope he will be feeling more his old self soon, glad the initial wound has healed,

    despite your tragedies your garden is looking lovely and the golden glow is amazing, could you put wirers or a trellis on the garage wall to tie the golden glow on to, Frances

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    1. Attaching something to the garage wall might not be a bad idea. I'm hoping my hubby will figure something out for me, he's a whiz at that stuff. Whatever it is it needs to be heavy duty as this plant just keeps getting bigger at its base, not to mention the height.

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  15. Well, at least your ratio of weeds:flowers is better than mine. In our orchard at the moment it looks like it snowed! There are thistle seeds everywhere! Fortunately, lots of goldfinches have offered to help clean up the mess ;) I love the Nigella photo, I've never grown it, but always loved the look, and that Golden Glow...wow! I'm impressed!

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    1. Clare, the goldfinches loved the thistle in our meadow this year. Made me glad I leave that area to the wildlife and whatever weeds spring up. Hopefully the birds will not only eat your thistle seed but help to clean up any bugs in your orchard.

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  16. Hi: Knowing you, those weeds won't stand a chance for long! I have all those same flowers that you do and they are amazing in the fall..if anyone gives me a zucchini, I'm so happy as I chop it up, skin and all in my food processor, freeze 2 cups to a bag and make zucchini loaves all winter..need a recipe I can send you two, one for a chocolate zucchini loaf also..off to Victoria on Thursday so imagine my weeds when I get back, we are getting a lot of rain now..happy gardening Lannie

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    1. Lannie, you're right, I couldn't wait to get in there and start pulling. I wanted to see those flowers! Hope you have a wonderful vacation and am looking forward to seeing your photos when you get back.

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  17. You're back home and so am I - next year we must try to meet up so i can see your triumphs in person - your Nigella is breathtaking - I do love blue flowers!
    That's the one trouble with gardens - both flower and vegetable - leave them alone for awhile and they make you pay for it in spades (no pun intended)!

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    1. Jane, I am sorry I missed everyone this year. Wish I could have met the group but things just spun a bit out of control for me with work issues and vacation plans. I look forward to seeing everyone next summer.

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  18. I love your rudbeckia/echinacea combination. Your kitty looks very sweet relaxing under the plants; who would ever know he was stressed out! Maybe he'll feel less stressed now that you're home again and his fir will grow back. (A friend had a cat who licked all the hair off his legs after she moved to a new house and stopped letting him go outside.) -Jean

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