Friday, July 19, 2013

Triumphs and Tragedies

It's been awhile since I went on walkabout on a Friday night and perused the garden.  Tonight was the perfect night for a stroll as the weather has cooled considerably.  Even my little buddy decided it was a good night to tag along.


I collected another bouquet during my travels.  


Peonies have given way to roses and veronica.  The lady's mantle is still blooming strongly and provides plenty of filler.

I had this notion in the spring that if I could just get the vegetable garden underway it would be self regulating until fall when I would gather up all the tasty food.  Good grief I'm more than a little naive some days.


I have been picking peas all week and I noticed tonight I have to get back in there again.  In fact there's probably another week of picking before we're through.  It's a double edged sword.  Fresh peas taste out of this world but it means the rest of the garden gets neglected... again.

Which means I didn't notice this until it was too late.


My new copper beech is in trouble.  The leaves are all dried and shriveled.  I have watered it now but the damage is done.  The real trouble was that this tree didn't have a good root system when I bought it.  I was not impressed when I removed it from the pot.  Far too little roots for such a large specimen.  I won't be visiting that nursery again.

The beech was not the only tragedy this evening.  The odd looking echinacea have morphed into alien species.


I've been wondering for a weeks now what the heck was going on with these plants.  They just look worse and worse.  Yellow coloured skinny leaves, bug holes, dying leaves - they don't look like echinacea any more.  Two plants are affected.  I'm new to echinacea so don't have a clue what's going on.  Any ideas what the cause is?

For those following the sordid tale of my composting mishaps - I finally gathered my courage and visited the compost bin these evening.  Yes, it has been several weeks since I last opened up the bin.  I felt sick every time I thought of digging through that again so I've been avoiding it.  Tonight though I thought - put on your big girl panties, you can do this.

The good news was I did not see a single mouse nor hear any squeaks.  I did however find snakes.  PLURAL.  They reared up at me when I poked them.  I did not get a photograph.  I think the rule from here on in when visiting the compost bins is always bring back up.  One person to hold the camera and one person to carry a shovel to fend off any enraged critters.

This is a much nicer view than snakes
Who knew composting could be so adversarial?  It feels a bit like chasing out unwanted squatters.  Although I should probably thank the snakes for taking care of the voles so efficiently.

One last stop was made at the very front of the property.  I'm starting a new garden bed there.  There's a slight dip that I have noticed gathers water when it rains.  So a couple willows were planted, including this very pretty Hakuro Nishiki dappled willow.


In addition to the willows I had an idea that some butterfly friendly plants would be a good idea.  To that end I brought home some Bee Balm from the plant sale in the spring.  I'm sure I asked about the colour and I could have sworn it was supposed to be pink.  Which would have gone quite nicely with that dappled willow.  This is what I found tonight.


Quite beautiful, but definitely not pink.

32 comments:

  1. Surprises everywhere you go on your walk about the garden. I like the good surprises (the dappled willow leaves, the bountiful peas) but the very scary compost pile and withering plants are unpleasant surprises.

    The red bee balm is discouraging. I have the opposite -- a pink bee balm next to red salvia and red cardinal flower. Since there are big clumps of each plant, it looks intentional -- and that makes it look kind of ok. That's the key, make it look like you meant to plant them together!

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    1. Thanks Laurrie, as much as I'd like to think it will work red and pink just don't seem a likely combination. I'm wondering if I should just move the red one somewhere else and invest in a proper pink bee balm.

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  2. Oh M...lol. Composting is becoming quite the adventure for you. My husband is the one who deposits the neat little biodegradable bags into the compost bin, and he is not a snake lover. So I guess it's a good thing that we have a secure black hulking space alien shaped bin. I could imagine his reaction if he found snakes rearing up their heads...and I can equally imagine my reaction if there was anything moving in our bin.

    You are one brave gardener.

    Oh, BTW, I added the change of heart about too many cats after ridding the back porch of Eau de kitty pee once again...and it's not our cat. Seems the composter is a prime kitty marking spot also...maybe that's why we don't have snakes in it. Hey, there's a good garden tip for you...lol.

    Jen

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    1. Jen, seems like I never have much luck with composters. In our old house we had a black plastic bin and the rats managed to chew through it and invade. At least the snakes don't jump :) ugh, know what you mean about eau du chat, we get that problem in spring when the male toms go on walkabout in the neighbourhood.

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  3. Dig up your Echinaceas and throw them away. Don't put them in the compost. Put them in the trash or burn them. It's probably aster yellows, which is incurable and spread by sucking insects. Don't plant more Echinaceas for a couple years. So sad about your beech - hope it recovers!

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    1. thank you so much, you're absolutely right. I did a check on aster yellows and sure enough, narrowed leaves, light green/yellowing. I dug them out today and garbaged them. Now I have to go shopping though and find something to replace them!!

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  4. I, too, always forget how much time the vegetable garden is going to take, and either it or the rest of my garden gets neglected. I so wish we could tell vegetables when we wanted them to get ripe! Your tale about the snakes in the compost is making my skin crawl! I've never even thought about having a snake in the compost. I'm going to have to tread a little more lightly around mine now, and I hope you somehow get rid of the snakes in yours.

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    1. The snakes actually aren't too bad, it was my poking them that really got them agitated :) They quickly slithered off though. Just as long as I don't skewer any more animals I think I'll be okay.

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  5. I have never had any luck with Echinacea they just won't grow for me. Last year I planted a new cooking apple tree that is looking very sad and half dead - so you're not on your own with planting disasters. No snakes though which I'm happy about.

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    1. Trees are tough Elaine. We plant around 30 trees per year (we have a very bare acreage) and I always plan on losing at least a few. I was just upset as that copper beech was a special buy.

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  6. Ladies Mantle is the ultimate filler flower, isn't it? I find it seems to go well with virtually every color I have in my garden. Good luck with your beech. I'd suggest giving it a few treatments with compost tea, watered right around the root ball. Or see if you can find something to amend the soil to help the roots grow. I use a solution called 1-2-3 tree but I think it's only available wholesale and in bulk. It's designed to help with transplant shock and to give a newly planted or struggling tree a boost and it works like magic. Good luck.

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    1. I love love love Lady's Mantle. You're so right. Goes with everything, whether it's in the garden or in a vase. Thanks for the tips on helping the tree, I might try looking for that solution as there's a few trees could use a boost.

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  7. Now, if I thought there was a chance, even the teeeeniest glimmer of a chance, that snakes (plural) would rear up when I lifted the compost bin lid, I would NOT compost. I would not have a compost bin, maybe not even a garden ! I would need more than big girl's pants to give me courage ! Mice - bring 'em on ! I laugh in the face of mice ...

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    1. LOL, Jane I'll trade you. I once had a rat jump out of a compost and on me. I prefer the snakes.

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  8. OMG Marguerite girl ! You are far braver than I !
    I say I have no room for a compost bin .. which is rather true .. so I avoid that whole scary ordeal .. phew!
    The echinacea .. some weird things can happen with no exact explanation available ... I have grown a lot and have seen mutations happen too. I'm sorry about the Copper Beech .. maybe it has gone dormant ? because of heat and drought?
    Do you think there is any possibility the core may still be alive ? .. maybe dig it up lightly fertilize it with plenty of water ... give it a second chance ?
    I feel so sorry for trees .. I am a tree hugger ? LOL
    I have the same willow and love it : )
    Joy

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    1. Joy, that beech still has a few surviving leaves so I'm hoping beyond hope that the tree itself will survive. Maybe just trim a few branches next year? cross your fingers..

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  9. I gave up on composting kitchen waste for the very reasons you have discovered and now put anything attractively edible into my city green bin. Yard waste and things like corn husks go into my large open compost pile. So far I haven't seen any snakes, mice or voles thank goodness! Too bad about the Cooper Beech! As it had too small a root ball, I would return it and ask for my money back. I have never had problems with echinacea, but suspect something underground may be at work. Hopefully they'll recover.

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    1. I've had troubles with compost before but I thought I had it beat this time with that extra small hardware cloth. No such luck though, I watched the snake squeeze right through the hole. I could put my edible compost into our provincial compost bin but it seems such a waste.

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  10. Goodness your compost heap is a source of endless surprises! And no, definitely not pink, but as you say, really lovely. Hope you rbeach recovers, perhaps if you cut it back and give it a huge watering?

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    1. I'm usually fond of surprises but in this case...

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  11. Going to my compost is not nearly the adventure.

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    1. Be thankful Lisa :) I'm not enjoying composting quite as much as I previously have.

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  12. Marguerite,
    Wow your little buddy doesn't look afraid of snakes unless he ran the other way. Haven't seen any snakes around our compost ever but maybe this year will be the one. I'm not afraid of them but I have seen lots of frogs and toads so I'm wondering if that's why you are seeing the snakes.
    We were driving around Canoe Cove and bought some great tasting Strawberries and Honey from from your local farmer. It had some construction going on so we had to take a different route but just a lovely community.
    Your pictures are wonderful as always.


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    1. LOL, you went to the land of Milk & Honey! (dairy farm on one side and honey farm on the other) Glad to hear you enjoyed it and found your way through! The construction has been a headache all around as we're super busy this time of year around here with cottagers. The roads are a bit confusing down here anyway, throw in a roadblock and nobody knows where they're going.

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  13. It looks like you've already diagnosed your coneflowers. Aster yellows can be a weird disease. Your plants turn into botanical freaks. My compost is in my basement so if I ever had a snake in mine, you'd hear me screaming all the way to Canada!

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    1. So sad about those echinacea, trying to figure out now what blooms late in the season to replace them. Your basement compost is probably better, no animals can creep in the house to make their home there.

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  14. Oh, Marguerite, so many woes -- yet we still keep gardening (and composting), don't we? I am afraid my established echinacea have aster yellows and will have to be removed. Good thing we experience triumphs, too! P. x

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    1. oh Pam, that's terrible about the echinacea. I know your garden is full of big stands of these. Mine at least were still small and new so shuffling in something else won't leave a big hole.

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  15. I chuckled at your bee balm--my friend gave me some that she swore was bright red, but in my garden it turned hot pink:)

    Oh my, I think I'd forget that compost bin and start a new one! One look at snakes, and I'd be out of there!

    Glad to see Jason gave you some good advice on the echinacea. I've never had this happen to mine, but I know it's a common problem. Definitely pull these up, but I would think you could plant some in another area next year. Generally, echinacea are very low-maintenance, but like all plants, there can be problems.

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    1. LOL, trade ya! I was hoping for a light pink or mauve. Red is a big clash with that pink willow. I have my fingers crossed that aster yellows is gone now. I still have Rudbeckia in the garden and they seem fine for now but I know they can be affected as well. Love echinacea though, will definitely need to try them in another part of the yard.

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  16. I have to say I'm as naive as I start the Spring off right and thinking a garden of veg's here and a garden of flowers there, by the time it gets growing, well you know guests are arriving and before I know it, it has become a jungle. I found a link to what some of the problem may be you can have a look http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex578 further down the article it covers problems with echinacea.

    Beautiful picture of your snow peas. I laughed when I read about everything else waiting while you pick snow peas. I put in way too many tomatoes and I'll be doing the same. These are tiny tims we could exchange peas and tomatoes. Have a wonderful weekend. Cindy

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  17. I might suggest that your Echinacea has Aster Yellows, a virus. Just read some of the above comments, seems I have good company with the diagnosis.
    I love the dappled willow, really looking at that!

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