The Year of Not Gardening

It’s been a bad year for gardening. I’ve done very little other than admire the flowers which survived the harsh winter, both mine and other people’s. I lost several lavender bushes, a favorite purple clematis, two older established John Cabot/David Austen rose bushes, and most of the ever-bearing strawberry plants. Other things came up looking pathetic including my hardy Knock Out Roses which did not seem as lush this year especially the ones facing north, not to mention a half dead birch tree and lilac bush. Blame it on the weird spring, with the temperatures yoyoing up and down so much.

In early May when all the hanging baskets were out for Mother’s Day, it seemed too cold to be buying plants which I would only have to bring in and out of the garage. So I waited until it got warmer. Then it was too hot, then cool again…..by then I had waited too long to buy dipladenia – all the pink ones were sold out. I was busy was other things and then it was too late for anything, although I did scoop up three Red Twig Dogwood bushes for half price to try and replace the privacy hedge the new neighbours had cut down. (Why oh why?) Otherwise my sole flower expenditure this year was a hibiscus plant, plus some lettuce seeds (I couldn’t find seedlings), one beefsteak tomato, and a new rhubarb plant. The plus side of not having any hanging baskets is not having to water, as rain has not been as plentiful either and now in mid-July the lawns are as dry as August, although we did get a glorious rain this morning.

Here’s a mini-tour of the good and the bad.

My mothers purple geraniums, with a twenty year spread.
Her honeysuckle bush, which is almost too sweet smelling to me.
My fuchsia clematis did well and is inching it’s way up the side arbor.
The purple clematis was very prolific too at climbing the garden shed.
I had better luck turning the hydrangeas blue this year due to a double dose of aluminum sulfate, which has gone way up in price, but note the dead lavender bush in front of it.
The rest of the lavender was meh, although the butterflies enjoyed it.
One bloom-again lilac bush did well, the other is half dead. My regular lilac bushes had very few blooms. Ignore the weeds, I did. (Note – Creeping Charlie cannot be halted without pesticides which are illegal here.)
I had five of these pink dipladenia pots last year, but they sold out early as everyone now knows they are drought resistant.
My solitary flower purchase – a pink hibiscus.
As for the vegetable garden, I planted five packages of lettuce, all different varieties, three came up, one mixed salad variety was so strangely peppery tasting that it was inedible, even to the rabbits which snuck under the chickenwire. The hardware store sold out of chickenwire so I couldn’t even reinforce it.
These bush beans are from a freebie packet the library was giving away as part of the One Tomato project. They are supposed to be purple but turn green when cooked….we shall see….
The rhubarb was thin and spindly, but at least the bunnies didn’t make a nest under it like they did last year. I haven’t harvested it yet. I bought another plant for next to it in case it’s lonely.
As seen in the neighborhood – a grass-cutting robot? It wasn’t doing a very good job as it was zigzagging all over and banging into trees like a drunken soldier. I’ve never heard of such a thing so maybe it was an indoor Roomba which went rogue! (I googled – The Terra is made by the same company IRobot and retails for around $1000 – it probably needed to be set up or maybe it was giddy from escaping to the great outdoors?)
And last but not least, this month’s puzzle – my kind of gardening this year!

37 thoughts on “The Year of Not Gardening

  1. DM says:

    I think the clematis would be a fun flower to get started.. Our friends have some that grow over an arch that leads to their front door. I admire that plant every time we go there, and it’s in bloom. Always think..boy I need to have some of those. That darn creeping charlie. We have it here too in our yard/ orchard/ garden area. My brother has some stuff that will take care of it. Didn’t realize it was outlawed elsewhere…makes sense. I don’t mind it in some areas of the property, but it is so aggressive. This year, for me was the biggest gardening plot(s) I’ve ever had. I had the time and motivation and our weather the past month has made everything flourish like crazy…although, something has been killing some of my vining plants the past couple of weeks..they’re healthy, then boom/ they’re wilting… I have been pulling them out as soon as I notice…it’s not a bug…almost like it’s some kind of disease..the weird thing is, its random.. Appreciate the gardening update!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Doug. Clematis are easy to grow once it’s established. Having said that I lost a nice purple one I’d had for five years this year, which was wrapped around a back arbor. I forgot to mention that in the blog. It just didn’t come up, no sign of it at all. The purple ones are called Jackmani. I planted a pale lavender one this year which bloomed but was very short in height. You can get pesticides here for weeds and such if you’re a farmer and have a license to buy it, but I don’t know any farmers anymore. The TSC (Tractor Supply Store) has it but it’s all locked up with a forms to fill out before purchase. They banned Roundup type pesticides here about five years ago, maybe longer. Now all you can get is some iron type compound which doesn’t work well on dandelions let alone creeping charlie. I don’t mind the dandelions, but the creeping charlie is so invasive I hardly have any lawn left at the back.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Savoring Sixty and Beyond says:

        Just visited the link. Puzzles are not cheap, so I too have learned to shop thrift stores since I am a puzzle addict! I have kept my favorites in a closet and pull them out from time to time. I usually buy the 500 – 1000 pieces. I am very particular about the 1000 pieces though as I don’t want too much of one color. I learned that lesson!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne says:

    I share your disappointment about the garden (i.e. dreams / plans vs reality) and yet I think what you have shown us in this post is beautiful indeed! Thank you for this wonderful tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Anne! We have been experiencing some of your drought, whereas last summer we had too much rain. But I think it was the harsh winter which did things in. It’s discouraging thinking about starting over again. I guess I’m just not in the gardening mood this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate Crimmins says:

    You did ok for a weird year. My neighbor lost almost all her lavender. It is dry here too. We spent the entire day yesterday watering and there are still some plants to do today. We have new bushes and trees. I don’t want to lose those. I had more plans but ran out of steam so they are on the list for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. www.rosesintherainmemoir.wordpress.com says:

    Of what use is a garden blog if we are not allowed to complain as well as to brag? I took all your gripes to heart and grieve with you over your losses, especially the lavenders. I did peer closely into the lavender bush (the dead one) and found some fresh green down there, so I suggest you break/snap/cut back the dead parts to allow a fresh come-back later when the weather settles down again. And I notice those little white butterflies flutter in your garden, too; I always thought these are cabbage flies, but I don’t grow cabbages. I do have lots of sweet honeybees kissing the roses and a small lavender on my courtyard, as well as buzzing among the perennials down the lane. A robot mower? Whoever heard tell of such a thing? I had to guffaw out loud.

    Hang in there, Joni, dear friend. It’s the COVID (tongue in cheek).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Jo. It is discouraging, and I don’t feel like starting over again. I have heard those called cabbage butterflies too, it’s an old term I think? I know there’s a bit of green in that dead lavender bush – it all needs work, but it’s either too hot or I’ve been too busy. My mother is requiring more help/care so I am there a lot and my yard is out of sight, out of mind and my grasscutter who normally does garden work for me is busy with a wedding this summer. Usually I don’t give up on the yard until August!

      Like

  5. Dave says:

    I’d say you did VERY well for a weird weather year, Joni (though I know your standards are exceptionally high based on previous summers). We’re only two months removed from a May snowstorm of 18″ here in Colorado. Now Mother Nature can’t seem to decide what to do. Daily temps close to triple digits (in our Fahrenheit, that is), with occasional days of fog and wind, with rain literally “sprinkled” around the area some afternoons. We’re more concerned about grass than flowers out here (for our horses). It’s coming in okay but not to the point where we have to trim it back. The horses are taking care of that for us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      That’s part of it Dave – my standards are way too high! I want things to thrive and be happy! I think I remember hearing about that snowstorm. The weather seems wonky all over. I guess you don’t need a Terra Robot if you have horses. I remember a bad drought on the prairies a few years ago where things were so bad that farmers from Ontario shipped hay to the west for free for their cattle and livestock.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Eilene Lyon says:

    It looks like you do have some lovely flowering shrubs, some of which I couldn’t possibly grow here. I agree with the previous comment that it looks like there is still some life in that lavender. My husband told my my Concord grape vine had died – I had to cut it all back to about a foot tall, but it’s growing again like crazy. Right now we’re in a dry heat wave (hit 💯 today!) and some of my annual pots fried.

    I had not heard of creeping Charlie before, so I had to look it up. Mints can really spread like crazy. Bindweed is our nightmare creeper around here.

    The squirrels decimated my salad greens this year. I’m not sure if I can find any seed to try for a late-season patch.

    Well, there’s always next year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Wow my Readers have sharp eyes! I will have to examine the rest of the lavender tomorrow. It does need to be cleaned up, the whole yard needs work, none of which I have the energy for. I’ll have to be better organized next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Linda Schaub says:

    That looks like a fun puzzle Joni – no muss, no fuss and no watering to keep it looking good. You may write that your garden did not fare well, but I think it looks very good. It is colorful which is more than I can say for mine. The roses bloom in spite of the big white vinyl fence my neighbor put up which cuts off the sun they used to get. It is a sad mess of what it was before Polar Vortex #1. When I was at Memorial Park yesterday I got pictures of Swallowtail Butterflies on Lantana and Coneflowers. The Lantana is bright orange and is a magnet for butterflies. It must do well with little TLC because all of the Lantana plants were thriving. There are no automatic sprinkler systems and the volunteers are not there watering it, as there are no watering hook-ups there. They just weed and prune. So that Lantana is thriving on sunlight and what precious little rain we’ve had. I had no idea they made robo lawnmowers. I remember another blogger got a robo vacuum cleaner a few years ago. It was a knock-off of a pricier brand and they set it free and it did the same staggering around like a drunken sailor until it was able to find its way. I liked your line : “maybe it was giddy from escaping to the great outdoors?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I had never even heard of them, but they have to be programmed to the dimensions of your lawn apparently, so that’s why I wondered if it had escaped to the great outdoors!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        It’s a great idea and my lawn is so small it would be perfect. I have an electric mower and a push mower. The lawn service does not do the backyard – they used to with a smaller, non-riding mower, but they don’t now. It is raining now, just lightly, so I am one here since I didn’t finish Reader last night and once it storms, I’m off, likely the rest of the day. Just wrote an e-mail to the lawn service to suspend it until September 15th effective today. The grass looks like a Brillo pad and will look like that until September. If it rains a lot, I’ll cut it with the push mower … I have to take the push mower out every 3-4 weeks for the backyard (which is finally showing a sign of life) anyway. I have weeds to pull and because of not doing bigger yard work, I let them go. So I told him to I’ll pay him for October, which will be five weeks. The last few years he stops at October 31st and I had to cut it myself in November one last time.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      PS. Remember I’m only showing you the best parts, otherall everything looks dry and blowsy if that’s a word for the roses. Some of the things I lost were well established so it is puzzling.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That’s what happened to me after the first Polar Vortex. I lost three Butterfly Bushes which were thriving and drew lots of butterflies and I had a butterfly garden, the butterfly houses, puddling dishes, big rocks to sun on. Plus, I lost all my Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans, Hostas, August Lilies – all were planted in 1985 so long established. Plus lost a few bushes … that’s what made me say “no more” and I’ve not bought any more plants, not even planted annuals in pots/in-ground since then. My Lilac tree is not looking good and the mini Lilac (Little Miss Kim) did not bloom this year.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. annieasksyou says:

    Well, best parts or not, it’s a very impressive garden to me! I enjoyed your tour and laughed about your roomba theories. And it’s quite a feat to grow something that even makes the bunnies turn up their little noses.

    We’ve had monsoon rains today. I keep thinking of the climatologist I quoted some time back who spoke of “global weirding.”

    Glad to hear your mom is still into puzzles! You have a lovely, multi-talented companion as well as an enviable gene provider. Cheers to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Annie! I envy you your monsoon rains – we had a bit overnight, but hopefully more tomorrow. Any day I don’t have to water is a good day. We are so into puzzles that painting has fallen off her radar screen.

      Like

  9. ruthsoaper says:

    Your mom’s geraniums are amazing, and I love your hibiscus! I wonder if that lavender got too much aluminum sulfate when you gave it to the hydrangea. A few years back my husband almost killed many of my lavender plants by over fertilizing them. While much of the upper growth died off the lower branches began getting green growth again, so I pruned off the dead and they have recovered nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Ruth! It was dead before I put the aluminum sulfate on, and I don’t really fertilize much, just some bonemeal on the roses.. I lost a few at the back too, one that was established, and two that were not. I guess their time was just up! If this heat is what the future holds it certainly doesn’t make you feel like starting over.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. J P says:

    It has been terribly dry here through June and July, and I cannot recall how long it has been since I cut grass. Long enough for several volunteer trees to sprout. Maybe I will encourage a couple of them.

    Indiana has that honeysuckle on its invasive species list and encourages it to be removed wherever possible.

    Anyway, it’s a good year to not be a gardener, which works out okay for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I guess on the plus side, I’m saving on paying the grasscutter as he’s skipped several weeks too. We finally had some blessed rain last weekend, just after I posted on my mailbox for help/someone to water the plants/shrubs once or twice a week. My only response was an eleven year old girl who I consider too young – it’s a big yard with a 100 ft hose to drag around and a tricky tap – although I admire her parents for instilling work ethic I would consider it child labor….

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      PS. If this is the weather of the future, and you lose plants like that, it doesn’t exactly make you feel like starting over….I think my interest in gardening in general is waning….

      Liked by 1 person

  11. HappyHauteHome "Home and Lifestyle Inspiration" says:

    Your garden is absolutely beautiful Joni! I love all the flowers and your spread…wow 20 years! Incredible! So sorry for all the flowers you did lose, it sounds like an awful lot! I feel your pain, I get so sad as well when I lose a shrub or tree but your loss is severe! So many plants! Maybe limelight hydrangeas are your next blooming shrub, I think they may do well in your climate as they are also drought resistant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thanks Denise – I’ll check out the limelights the next time I’m at a gardening centre. My Knockout roses are into their second blooming session and are more abundant than in June, but we had almost a week of torrential downpours and they perked right up!

      Liked by 1 person

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