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A Gardening Life – July 8

You know the answer, right? Of course not. But sometimes I think those of us in the garden communication business are prone to pretending that it does. We take photos of our gardens when they look great and we write at length about our successes. This is understandable since we want to celebrate what works and convince the public that they can do it too. Our goal is to get people hooked on plants and gardening, so we don’t want to show them photos of failures.

Maybe we should display some of the landscape disasters, at least once in awhile. If you walk through any garden at this time of year it’s likely that among the fit and thriving you’ll also find failing plants, weeds, insect damage and disease. July is when the chickens come home to roost and sometimes the fowl are foul.

Remember those cool rainy stretches in June? The blackspot that these conditions promoted has landed on the roses with a vengeance. Those areas where you so carefully turned the soil in May? All the seeds that were exposed to the light have now exploded into full-grown weeds. And we would swear that there is a Crabgrass Fairy visiting our gardens at night sprinkling fully-formed crabgrass like pixie dust.

So in the effort to make you all realize that this is just how the July garden is, I offer a look at just some of my dead and dying plants. I didn’t shoot pictures of the weeds…they are just to damn depressing.

Here we have some choice dead Cleome. These weren't the inexpensive, seed grown varieties either. I paid the big bucks for five of these. They either died because it was too wet three weeks ago or too hot and dry for the past ten days. I'd ask them, but they've left the premises.

Behold the ex-Emilia. This one might have been murdered by the earwigs that stripped its stem...or not. No security cameras recorded the crime.

One stem of this dahlia is wilting. My response is to tug it out of the ground, leaving the other stems that currently look good. There is plenty of time for them to croak too, if they are of like mind. Isn't it fortunate that I'm not depending on this garden for my winter food?

I can't resist ending on an up note. The daylilies are coming into flower, as are the Echinacea. Here you see 'Guava Ice' coneflowers with yellow 'Carolyn Criswell' daylilies, and the annual 'Blue Horizon' Ageratum putting on growth in the background. Yes, there were dead plants and weeds here until last weekend when I cleared the garden out, preparing for this photograph.


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