August 5th, 2007
That was my weekend. After nearly a month of travel and deadlines, drought and garden-time devoted solely to watering to keep things alive, things were looking a bit, well, messy. So I devoted most of the weekend to tearing out poor-performing plants, weeding, mulching, trimming and planting.
My compost bins over-floweth!
In the process, I discovered a nasty surprise. I knew that my hollyhocks weren’t doing well. I mostly blamed it on the drought, even though I have been watering religiously. The drought has provided a convenient excuse for many things, it seems. But I have, apparently, been in denial.
Today, reality came crashing in that I have a serious hollyhock disease. As I started cleaning up, I realized that it wasn’t just a matter of thirsty and messy plants. These plants needed some medical attention!
I dashed inside, spreading mulch and dirt in my wake, and did a quick Google search to diagnose the problem. It seems that I have an advanced case of hollyhock rust.
Hollyhock rust looks like yellow dots on the tops of the leaves. These continue to spread, eventually compromising the whole plant. On the bottom are these orange pustules. Ick.
I had to severely trim everything back and clean up the beds to remove the fungus. I also sprayed everything with a fungicide–something I absolutely hate to do. It looks as if I’m doomed to spraying for the rest of the season. I’m wondering if I should just yank out the hollyhocks altogether. It seems a shame since they ARE trying to rebound and the new leaves look healthy. Advice anyone?
The *%(#(@ deer have also become much more bold. Although we live in the country and deer are a regular site, they don’t usually come up to the front door and eat the plants in the front flower beds. But this weekend, they decided to move in for the kill and have mangled three mature hostas.
I managed, however, not to say any naughty words as I got out the deer-off spray that I hopes burns their little lips off.
Deer damage to hostas
Now I feel even more vindicated that I allow my little dogs to chase them out of the hay field. What a joyous sight to see up to half a dozen deer scatter when my 10 lbs. and 12 lbs. Papillons run after them barking!
Tomatoes and marigolds
We are getting TONS of tomatoes. In fact, in the photo above, you can see just three Brandywine tomatoes that completely fill a 9′ x 6′ (approx.) raised bed. (One didn’t make it, which I suppose is a good thing considering how crowded they are.) The marigolds are hanging in there and are doing better after some deadheading.
Call me simple minded, but I’m rather proud of the fact that I started these–and most of my other plants–from seed this year.
I found a couple of potted plants to add to what my husband calls my “estate look” container plant collection.
I found this 4′ tall boxwood at Lowe’s for just $59.00. Boxwoods at my local garden center are half this size for much more money. The only problem was that my 16-year-old son and I could barely lift it to transplant it into this huge pot. Thank goodness we have strong backs–so far.
I also found this fabulous dwarf cypress that is about 3′ tall. Now if I can just find the right spot to put it…
Despite all the weeds, disease and mess, things shaped up pretty nicely–even if they are a bit bare. I planted some more bush beans and took the chance and planted some garlic. I planted garlic in the fall a couple of years ago and it grew all winter so I harvested a healthy crop in the spring. And many people plant it in the spring. I figure, if it can grow in the spring and in the winter, why not get started now?
I’m starting my fall vegetables from seed this weekend, so at least there is now room for them.
Gosh, fall is just around the corner, isn’t it? Does anyone have big plans for a fall garden?
August 4th, 2007
But since the guys were headed off to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, I couldn’t just stay at home watering and pulling weeds! Do you blame me for neglecting my own chores for the day?
Mount Vernon, Home of George Washington
I have been to Mount Vernon several times before. But it has always been in the chill of autumn or in the dead of winter. Given my interest in historic, particularly Colonial gardens, I was aching to see the gardens in their full glory.
The lawn in front of the house is a wide swath that provides a panoramic view of the house–even if the lawn is a bit parched from the drought. Of course, the house is now nicely restored to its full glory after periods of neglect during which the house was derelict and in danger of falling down. The brick paths that wind down either side of the lawn are now shaded with centuries-old trees. I have to wonder what the original scene was like when George and Martha lived here.
On the left (facing the house), is the upper garden and greenhouse, where mostly flowers, ancient boxwood and fruit trees grow.
On the right, is the Lower Garden, a working garden with gorgeous old boxwoods that are all gnarled with age.
There are also mature and impressive espaliered and cordoned fruit trees.
You can visit more of Mount Vernon by going to my photo gallery.
Given the busy work week I have had and the sad state of affairs in my own garden, I’m headed out to make amends now. So much to do…so little time.