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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Garden Ruminations

It feels as though it has been summer for a long time now, even though summer officially started only a couple of weeks ago. The garden is behaving as though it is mid-summer, except for the vegetables, which are surprisingly small this year.
I've been going on a flower/perennial binge, installing pink and blue salvia, gaillardia, tickweed and roses, in the hopes that they will take root and flourish in the clayey topsoil that surrounds the house. The flowers are still very pretty, as you can see from the photos. The roses are yet to bloom, since I purchased the ones with lots of buds, in hopes of having them bloom soon after. That is, if the deer don't get them.
Yesterday as we sat watching the TV, S pointed outdoors in great excitement. I ran to the window to see a startled young buck with barely-there antlers come to investigate the newly planted tea roses. I promptly opened the sliding door, to see the buck gallop off to join a doe and a fawn near the cherry tree, munching sedately on the shoots at its base. They watched me for a few minutes before deciding to stalk off to the neighbor's backyard.
The lavender and the sweet pea have taken off like the thistles, blooming crazily since about the end of May. The bumblebees hover around them all day, even sleeping on the underside of the occasional bud. I swear I saw one, motionless under a coneflower bud, as I went out to get the newspaper. I was tempted to shake the flower and give it 'rude awakening', but thought the better of it. By midmorning, the bumblebee was gone, probably buzzing off to the profusion of clover that lines the curb in our wild, unpesticided lawn.
The astilbe put out a single pale pink flower, beautiful, but brief-lived. It looks like a dried out mini-pine tree now, and I will have to wait till next year to catch it in its glory days.
The vegetables are pitiful caricatures of the lush growth that I've usually seen by this time in earlier years. Is the soil poorer, or is the combination of heat and intermittent thunderstorms doing something to them, could it be the dreaded 'early blight' which routed last year's garden tomatoes?
Maybe, I will just have to be patient and wait for another month. The tomatoes are sickly, but the beans seem to be healthy, albeit small. It's probably too much to ask of old seeds from 2 seasons ago to perform like the latest crop of 'Grown for 2010 season' that I was too miserly to purchase.
The Battle of Terminator Thistlenation is on again, this season. I've been keeping up with the occasional weeding, but there are still a few determined ones which have exceeded the 4 foot mark and cannot be easily pulled out. I will have to resort to heavy duty cutters to take those out. There is still an astounding large patch of thistles that have taken up residence around my coreopsis, red yarrow and Russian sage, quite overpowering them.
Now, another new scourge to deal with. Poison oak seems to have made its home under one of our pine trees. The plants are still quite small, but I'm sure the 'poison' packs a powerful punch, after seeing the rashes on M who came in unfortunate contact 3 weeks ago at her school playground on Field Day.  Her skin still gets itchy at nights,even as the rash fades, despite the regular applications of cortisone cream.These things always take a while to heal. All the more reason for me to don surgical glove, long sleeved tops and pull the baby poison oak plants out for disposal.

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