Sunday, July 19, 2015


Gardening is not for the faint of heart.  There are always conditions, sometimes extreme, that you must deal with.  My sister recently told me, when they returned home from a trip, much of their vegetable garden was shredded from a hailstorm.  Although most things will recover, it's a pitiful sight to see.  We've been busy here--we've gotten plenty of rain but no damaging winds with all the storms rolling through.  High winds can snap or even flatten plants quickly.  And of course the extremes of rainfall.  Too little and you spend so much time watering.  Yet the plants never seem to respond as they do to a good, soaking rain.  Too much rain, all at once, can doom newly set in plants.  New plants, without a fully developed root system, simply cannot absorb a large quantity of water in a short time. Our main "extreme" concern this season seems to be a bumper crop of rabbits.  It's been several years since I remember seeing this many baby bunnies.  We have so much clover in our yard that generally, it seems to satisfy them.  I would expect to see feeding on parsley, but so far, not much.  We did stop planting parsley in the outer gardens, because it always did get munched off.  But two plants they must love are pincushion flower and Jupiter's beard.  Pincushion flower has very dark, almost black flowers, sprinkled with white dots, so it really does resemble a pincushion.  Jupiter's beard has rosy-pink flowers and is a reliably reblooming perennial.  Both have been chomped off multiple times!  At least they saved me the effort of cutting back the Jupiter's beard after its first bloom.
So gardening teaches us flexibility--to roll with the punches and adapt to changing conditions. And it also teaches us patience.  I've talked to many customers over the years who complain their annual vines "aren't doing anything." Moonflower, fragrant, white, night-blooming morning glory, mina or firecracker vine, with sprays of red, orange and yellow tubular flowers, and hyacinth bean with purple pea-like flowers and showy, shiny purple pods are all annual vines.  Having only one season to complete their life cycle, you'd think they'd get off to a quick start.  But they don't.  They are very slow growing in the beginning and they want lots of water.  It's almost impossible to give them too much water early on, until they really get established.  At some point, the tide turns.  Then, you can see each day how much they've grown from the previous day.
One flower I've been harvesting and drying lately is one of our new selections this year--orlaya.  It's an annual, with lacy, white flowers similar to queen anne's lace, but without the weediness of that plant.  It's a bright, clear white and is a  great filler for cut flowers.  I think the dried ones will work well in the same capacity for wreaths and arrangements. Like many other annuals, the more you cut and deadhead, the more it blooms.  Same for gomphrena or globe amaranth, with papery clover-like flowers.  I'm harvesting the red 'Strawberry Fields' variety now.  I particularly like it for decorating at the holidays as the red color holds well.  The mixed purple, pink and white gomphrena come a bit later.
Our hydrangea recovered and are blooming profusely in various shades of blue.  If I would cut the blooms now, they would just shrivel up--I think due to the high moisture content.  So I wait until late August or September, and when the flowers begin to feel papery on the stalk, cut them and dry them standing in a vase.  Then they hold their shape and dry thoroughly.
A small selection of annuals and a pretty good selection of perennials remains during our plant sale.  And prices are great!

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