This gardening season has been particularly discouraging for me. It’s normal for me to feel this way in late summer, but this year it started much earlier, in spring. While dwelling on the details, I realized that oddly, they all started with D.
To begin with, there were plants that should have come back after the winter that didn’t. Last year I planted some salvias that were supposed to be perennials but they died. The top half of my 8’ Crepe Myrtle also died.
We had an unusually hot and dry spring and before the season was over, my gardens were already gasping for water. I normally don’t have that problem until later in the summer. Living on a rocky hilltop with excellent drainage, keeping up with watering can be a challenge. I don’t have an irrigation system, so I have to do it manually. I actually love to water the plants because I notice things that I might not otherwise, such as tiny seedlings, weeds that need to be pulled, a camouflaged vegetable or troublesome insect, but having to try to keep up with it so early in the season was daunting.
I had decided to scale back my gardening efforts this year. There were other things on the horizon that I knew would take me away from it so I didn’t want to invest as much time and money. I actually considered not vegetable gardening at all, but I couldn’t bear to do nothing. Normally, I order a lot of seeds and start many of them indoors, but instead of ordering new seeds, I opted to use what I had on hand, and I didn’t start any of them indoors because I knew I’d be going out of town and wouldn’t be able to take care of them.
Even my basic efforts have proved futile. Some of my seedlings died in the heat. I’ve planted okra three times but something keeps eating some of the seedlings. I had nice looking green bean plants that flowered, but never produced any beans. It turns out to have been a good year for scaling back my efforts!
Deer are beautiful animals and they often appear in our yard. My husband and I have enjoyed watching them for many years without any problems…until this one. I’m guessing because of the dryness, they started jumping the fence around my flower garden to munch on my plants. Oh, I’ve read those lists of plants that deer like, but this time it was personal. They liked MY lilies and MY hostas! As much as I hated it, they had crossed a line. First thing in the mornings, my husband and I started looking outside to see if we needed to run them off.
Another concern is tick-born diseases, which are becoming more prevalent. When I wondered aloud why that was, my husband suggested that it was because the deer were more protected, and therefore more widespread. That makes a lot of sense to me, and yet another reason to deter them from hanging out around our home.
For a gardener who loves green, flowers, and rain, the lack of them is cause for a mild depression. Throw in an increase in being away from home and less time for babying my plants, and it just feels overwhelming!
In my usual glass-half-full manner, I’ve been trying to see the silver lining of the non-existent rain clouds. The drought is helping me to get rid of some unwanted grass in my front yard, and I’m learning some new things about my plants:
- The hostas are struggling to put out new leaves, but they went ahead and bloomed anyway.
- The Queen Anne’s Lace put out new blooms, but the nipped stalks were shorter, so now I know I can “pinch back” plants where I want them shorter.
- The deer ate many of the daylily blooms, but they seem to rebound and produce more.
Daylilies have saved the season for me and become my darlings of the summer. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many flowers they’ve put out, especially after being ravaged by the deer.
This yellow one has bloomed really well and has a pleasant fragrance. Since I didn’t get to enjoy a single fragrant Oriental Lily this year (the deer did!), I’ve especially appreciated this daylily.
These double orange native daylilies were transplanted from elsewhere on our farm and they’ve bloomed up a storm for me.
These Crimson Pirate daylilies were beautiful! I love their colors!
My determination and optimism are hanging in there. It’s just a matter of time before we start to feel the approach of fall, and when that happens I’ll get excited again. While I’m out watering, I’m already thinking about what I’ll plant, so I’m going to get out my Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog and order some new seeds. At the top of my list is cabbage because I’ve missed having some of those beautiful plants!
As I finish my post, we’ve just gotten some rain and my spirits are lifting already. Things are looking up!
Last year I got to visit Baker Creek and write about them. You can read all about it in A Passion for Seeds.
Don’t Delay! Enter Our Fall Seed Giveaway!
In preparation for fall, some of my friends and I are having a giveaway for Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. Please visit my friends’ blogs to see what they’re planning and don’t forget to enter our giveaway below. You could be the winner of 12 packets of seeds valued at $30!