Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hang in There, Fall's Coming

There's a low rumbling of garden angst across the blogosphere and Twitter is full of it, too. It's late August and for many of us, our gardens have seen better days. Way better. A summer of not enough rain and too many degrees has left us with gardens that look worse than usual this time of the year. And they almost never look great now, even in a good year.

My roses have black spot, yellowing leaves and some stems have no leaves at all. Miraculously, they're still managing to push out a few blooms.

Tansy  (Tanacetum vulgare)
We've had to do a lot of watering all summer long here in Ohio, despite my vow to stop doing that. I simply can't bear to see plants suffer, so here we go again. But all that watering also takes its toll, because watering from the well isn't the same as rain from the sky. It does a number on the garden in the form of black, mushy foliage from the ground up and it exhausts the gardener. I just want to be done with it.

That leads to the garden crabbiness I'm experiencing and from the sounds of it, so are others. I just want to rip everything out and wait for spring to start all over. But deep down I know I don't really want to do that. Gardening isn't all fluff and flutter, although it can be that also. But fun things can be like work things - there are times when you just don't want to do it. Be honest...you've felt this too, right?

So. What if I take a break from the garden? What's the worst that can happen? Some weeds will grow for sure. A few plants might die (or they might surprise me and live). I'll get more rest and be able to handle the late summer decline better and I'll one day soon be refreshed and rejuvenated by the cooler fall weather and I'll be loving my time in the garden again. Right.

But there is one thing I can do to help both my garden and my mood. I love pruning and deadheading. I'm going to go to the garden and trim back some of the ratty looking perennials such as the daylilies. (Can you really kill a daylily?) I'm going to cut the foliage down to about four inches tall and by the time the glorious fall weather arrives, they'll be shooting up lots of beautiful new growth.

In fact, I'll bet if you look at the base of a lot of your perennials, you'll find that they're already doing just that. Besides my daylilies, several of my smaller grasses are doing it, and the dianthus, too. Just getting that yellowing and brown dead stuff out of the garden will make it look better, and I'll feel better about things, too.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for keeping seed heads for the birds and I'll compost my trimmings, but if cleaning things up a bit makes the gardener happier, that makes for happier recipients of the gardener's efforts in the long run. Sort of along the lines of "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It's better than chucking it altogether when things look less than optimum. It's all in a gardener's year...

Are you listening, Gina?

Besides, there are plenty of good things going on out there, too, if you look closely.

Three-day-old monarch caterpillar. Size? One-eighth of an inch!


Sue said...

You're right about pruning up some things. I think I will!

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

Ahhhh... you're getting a peek at what a gardeners life is like in my climate. August is the month that my garden always looks the scraggliest (is that a word?). It's hot, dry, and rain won't come until October. What was I doing last evening after it was cool enough to venture outside? Deadheading my canna lilies. :-)

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Kylee Baumle said...

Sue ~ It's cathartic!

Cindy ~ Oh, August is always the worst here, too. We're used to that, but this year is likely the worst year EVER. No rain all summer and above normal temps during that time does not make a garden or gardener happy! But there's always next year. LOL

Sue said...

Here in the Pacific Northwest it has been a cool summer but a plants cycle is what it is. August is always the month when the plants seem to say, "I'm tired, enough is enough." I use this dry month to do outdoor painting projects and start to plan for my fall outdoor projects. I savor the warm days as I know that here fall will soon be upon us with the rain right behind it. Here's hoping for an "Indian Summer", they are the best!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your positive attitude on this most weary time of the gardening year is good Kylee. I think most of us needed a pep talk.

Lona said...

I am one of those who just wanted to forget about the garden this year and go back to spring and start over. My roses have not looked as bad as they did this summer. Yellow leaves and blackspot here too. Ugh! A few surprises of some self seeding flowers the other day to add to the garden was a pleasant surprise. My daughter is glad too because she wants them in her garden. LOL!

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

WE had the heat and plenty of rain outside Chicago. Issue here is things are overgrown - The bindweed is evil and needs attention before it seeds.... But is sure is easier to tidy up when it's not so darn hot!

Kylee Baumle said...

Sue ~ Yes, I think all gardeners are feeling a bit weary this time of the year and the plants are weary as well. You're right - Indian Summer is GREAT! Hopefully, that's a couple months down the road though.

Lisa ~ It can be a challenge to stay positive when the gardens are looking a little bedraggled. (Okay, a LOT bedraggled. LOL.) But we know this too shall pass!

Lona ~ Same here, with the roses! They looked absolutely fabulous after all that rain we had in May, then it was all downhill from there. Mine have never looked this bad. EVER. It will be interesting to see how many of them survive the winter when they're going into fall looking so poorly.

David ~ We've had the heat, oh boy have we had the heat! It wouldn't have been so bad if we'd had at least a little rain to go with it. But we have little choice but to deal with it. It's a "learning opportunity." LOL

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