Wherein The Garden Writer Loses It

Yeah, you caught me on a down day. We all have days when it’s almost too much trouble to get out of bed, but when I wandered around the Net looking at some of the current garden blogs, I had to wonder. These people seem to love every aspect of their gardens – and all the time.

I’m having trouble loving mine at the moment.

Over scotch the other night Mayo and I discussed turning it into an evergreen and annual garden. Or, more precisely, I ranted and she listened. That decision isn’t made but see below about perennial damage to understand why I’m on the rip.

Perennial Garden

I kept the vast majority of weeds – particularly grasses – out of the perennial gardens last year. I really worked at it. But you’d never know it this spring.

As an example, I purchased an Iris setosa, a delightful small arctic iris – and worked to keep it totally and completely grass free. There wasn’t a bit of grass within 1-metre of this plant.

But this spring, it was as if I’d never done a darn bit of weeding and grass spikes have appeared in the middle of the plant. Let’s just say I was less than impressed.

As an aside, once grasses get into an iris, the solution is to dig up the plant. There’s no other way to really get the grass out.

I’ve written about the vole damage here. As I wander around, it’s worse than I wrote about. The %$#&% creatures also got into the roots of a goodly number of my perennials and chewed those up. We’ll have to see what’s going to recover and what’s going to the great compost bin in the sky.

The Vegetable Garden

The vegetable garden is turning into Fort Mayo. Last year, the chipmunks and rabbits got anything low and the deer got everything high. Seriously, it was the first time I’ve even seen deer snipping off green tomatoes from the staked plants and the pole bean harvest was less than a full meal. My deer herd is “going gourmand.”

My Stone Work

Two seasons of almost-inactivity with the stone (one with an eye issue and no-work doctor order and last year with the heat) and I’m far behind on that project. I have high hopes for this year and getting it back on track. Right now, a half-completed wall and pile of stone grace my front yard.

Starting To Replant Trees

As I write this on a Saturday morning, I’ll be picking up two Silver Maples from a fund-raising project for the community restaurant here on the island. I’m not holding back on the protection – they’ll have hardware-cloth tree protectors during the summer and an aluminum foil wrap for the winters. (I’ll have videos for you next fall.)

Tree Survival Rates From Last Year

I note the voles got trees that were wrapped normally this year either by going up on the snowbanks to eat their way down or getting under the protection at the bottom and eating their way up. A significant number of the neighbor’s protected trees were taken out that way.

I also planted 100 trees last spring from the tree nursery in Kemptville. I should have saved my time and money. I believe two have survived relatively unscathed. Between the deer eating the tops and the voles taking the bottoms…

This Isn’t News To Nursery Folks

Much of this won’t be news to nursery people. Every nursery staff member can tell you stories of mice and voles or chipmunks decimating crops. Unwrapping the perennials was always a crap shoot in the spring when I owned or worked in nurseries. Staff can describe the panic of freezing-rain storms on acres of plastic or what happens when the snowload on a greenhouse or unheated cold frame is exceeded. We’ve all lived those days.

More than once I’ve fired up the furnaces to their highest settings and deflated the double layer of plastic to get heat to the outer layer and melt off the ice before it could either a) overload the greenhouse or b) turn to ice sheets that would slit the plastic as they were blown around by the wind.

But I’m Tired

After over 40 years of fighting the good fight in the nursery industry, I’m feeling a little tired of it all. Maybe it’s the weather today (overcast and cold-rain) or perhaps it was having another month-long bout of a wicked cold for the second year in a row leaving me – yet again- struggling with the resulting loss of fitness and strength. Maybe it’s losing a ton of plants. Maybe… Whatever it means, this kind of tired means I’ll do something about the gardens.

I’m not sure what it’s going to be but spending a lot of money to replace shrubs and perennials yet again isn’t high on my retirement priority list.

This year I’m planting the entire garden to annual flowers. I have a bunch of seed packages and I’ll pick up some plants to trial. I want instant and constant color and annuals are the single best way to get that.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out.

7 thoughts on “Wherein The Garden Writer Loses It”

  1. Hang in there, Doug! I greatly empathize with your gardening woes. I’ve got a bunch of similar ones. Every year I threaten to take a chain saw to my fruit trees because they’re too much work for the little bit of fruit I get, but then they blossom and I love seeing the bees on the blooms… It seems to get harder every year and I’m sure aging and mobility issues have a lot to do with it on my end. I keep telling my older sister we have to pace ourselves and we can’t keep trying to do what we did in our 30s. Our bodies just won’t let us. I hope you find your gardening mojo! Take good care.

  2. I came to a similar conclusion for this year. I just want simple pops of color and to take this year to redesign my perennial landscape for next year. Love your blog.

  3. It’s the dreary cold weather getting to you Doug.
    It will change soon! Sorry for all the loss from critters and deer.

  4. Doug, any gardening is great gardening. Your idea to go with all annual flowers will be wonderful. Enjoy all the colors and variety. Taking a year to mostly just enjoy what grows easily is healing. Just enjoy!

  5. I hear you Doug. Getting older is not for wimps. We have to tough’n up when we get older. My wife has had 2 hip replacements and one revision (starting at age52) and she never complains, me you would never hear the end of it and I would probably move into a condo and hate it of course lol . We even redid the kitchen and went to drawers instead of cupboards (my idea). I am turning 65 this July and yes sometimes its tough but I look at aging as a good thing, power of positive thinking I guess.

    Back to gardening.
    I have a friend who had a mole problem. What worked for her was the flags that utilities use for locating gas lines, hydro lines and water lines that they stick in the ground apparently if you stick them where the infestation occurs the vibration from the wind scares off the moles . These flags can be purchased at Home Depot.
    We use Liquid Fence and it works for rabbits .
    We do not have deer issues but a friend swears by Plantskydd.

    Good luck
    Hope this helps
    Joe Mota

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