Thursday, June 17, 2010

Garden Depression

For the first time ever, I find the garden to be a depressing element in my life. Rather than neglecting the housework in favour of gardening, I am avoiding the yard because I fear to face it. There are still a few dead perennials out there that need digging up and so many bare spots that create a glaring ugliness in my eyes. Of course, that is accentuated in my own eyes, but still, this last winter was terrible. I saw that some neighbours had men come in and do some serious work in their yard today, including ripping out the rose bush (that is likely 20+ years old) that failed to endure the winter's cold. Even the wild pink ladyslipper orchids in the forest behind us are limping along, with half the plants producing no blooms at all this year.
My down-but-not-quite-yet-dead rugosa rose:

Adding insult to injury, green caterpillar/worms are eating the foliage from the aquilegia, the hideous and pinch-happy spruce beetles are out now, poplar suckers are trying to take over the flower beds, and a horsetail-like weed is also trying to test my endurance with the weeding tools. I suspect that horsetail weed is simply propagated by my weeding efforts.
The northern idea of hardy perennials for the flower garden: good old chives:

I have contemplated solutions to my garden woes. These include solutions to the weeds such a buying a fortune in bark mulch to cover every inch of bare soil. For the plantings, I imagine flower beds filled only with chives, annual poppies, delphiniums, and rhubarb. Those plants all seem to do well here. I've decided to fill in all the shady areas with some aggresively spreading perennial that will take over faster than the weeds. I've planted one area up with Lamiastrum. I have no idea if that will be hardy, but I suppose I'll find out. Maybe I'll add a mix of aggresive spreaders (suggestions welcome) and wait to see what plant wins out.

Aquilegia vulgaris "Clementine Formula Mixed" seeds produced this lovely flower:

I suppose we got some true zone 2 temperatures this past winter, but the snow got lost in its travels and never arrived on time to protect everything.


Chookie said...

I'm sorry you're feeling so miserable!
It must be very bad indeed when the housework is singing a siren song.
Hoping that some of your annuals are able to cheer you up, and that local contacts allow you to create a slightly longer list of hardy perennials.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Why not look around in fields and so forth for native flowers that will obviously do well there and transplant some. Its not a weed if you want it in your garden.

I have some so called native "weed" in my perennial beds and I love them! I know those will do well and come back. You can also start annuals early indoors so they are ready to go into the garden blooming on your "last frost date".

Northern Reefer said...


You could try hay, which worked for me in Ottawa. It's cheap and you can turn it into compost the next summer.

Or you can flee for the tropics like I did, but zonal denial works both ways and I now find myself surrounded by bananas and alocasias, lusting after tulips and lilacs ...

Clayton said...

First of all -- take heart, you are not alone here. This spring has been the most devastating I have heard of. So many well aged and established plants have died in many gardens. It has little to do with the zone! I have lost a number of Clematis 8-10 years old, our neighbour lost all of her rose hardy roses as far as I know and one of the women at my work place lost most or all of her Clematis. It is disheartening but probably more unusual than expected. I am amazed at the things that made it - like seedling Clematis, perennials in normal testy positions, and fruit trees in poor places. Of course the native plants are robust and want to spread but then it is time for spot shots of Roundup!! And some fresh plants! Little by little we will recover. Keep smiling.

Karen said...

Aggressive spreaders -- I am sick of them! One of the worst decisions I ever made was to plant periwinkle as ground cover. I am now shin-deep in the stuff in my backyard, and it's everywhere! Ugh!

I am also having to cut back the creeping (or carpet) junipers this year, as they are creeping everywhere. Another mistake was planting Ankums Pride hardy geranium; it wants to take over the bed where I planted it, except that it is competing with the Japanese Anemone which is doing its best to crowd everything else out.

I am very sorry about all your lost plants and bare spots. I seem to be having the opposite problem this year. (Oh, and, it's kind of a myth that mulch keeps the weeds down, at least in my experience. It looks pretty, but don't waste money if all you want is weed control.)

Northern Shade said...

It would be very disappointing to have lost so many plants over the winter. The snow cover makes a world of difference. In Edmonton we had an extra cold winter too (although a zone warmer), but we were fortunate the snow arrived early to help insulate the perennials. I think the leaf mulch over the garden beds help as well.

Perhaps as the next flowers open, your gardening spirits will lift. I'm usually more optimistic when I see new buds, and it makes it easy to tune out the other parts of the garden. I was out taking photos of some ferns today, admiring their frond tips, when I noticed a two foot tall dandelion beside them, already a fluffy white seed head. I must have been tuning that one out for along time, and couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before. I picked the perfect globe, and for a brief instance I had a childhood desire to blow on the seedhead and watch the white seeds sail away, but with regret I placed it into the bag instead.

The Garden Ms. S said...

A tough year in the garden is pretty disheartening. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that it is cyclical and there will be better years.

This is a great time to try some new plants you may have been admiring and look around for some tough ones that don't spread by underground rhizomes, as they will eventually become the bane of your existence.

I'm just spotting some of my perennials that I gave up on. Hang in there!

Meredehuit ♥ said...

I feel you pain, so sorry. Whenever I lose a bush or tree, i feel like I've lost one of my kids... Cheer up and look for the sunshine. :)