Again I’m trying to recapture the tropical gardens of years past, but again I’m falling short. The fault is entirely my own though and I know that, but in NE Pennsylvania tropical plantings mean around six months of empty planting area and I just don’t have enough self control to keep them perennial and bulb-free. Really… in October how bad can it be to slip in an extra daffodil or lily?
To my credit serious mulching with every scrap of mulched leaves and any garden debris I could send through the mower has substantially reduced last year’s problem. The problem was that this bed was overrun with sunflowers, and if we ignore the fact that the gardener himself was responsible with planting them we can pretend that only having a half dozen or so of the plants this year is an improvement. Still a few self seeded anyway and hopefully this more manageable patch won’t again overshadow the ‘tropical’ look with ‘overgrown agricultural’. -and for the record I did rip out at least another dozen healthy sunflower seedlings, and nearly drove myself to drink over the guilt (but after a hard day of work what gardener doesn’t deserve a cool drink?)
Mulching has been an obsession lately. I raided the neighborhood woods again and brought home a few wheelbarrows of stinky dumped grass clippings which I used to cover the inner reaches of the bed. It was just in time to smother tons of baby weeds but most importantly the rotting grass was a solid dose of fertilizer for all the little goodies coming up. Within a few days everything turned a lush green and started putting out new growth. It was amazing what a difference the grass made and I’m sure the earthworms are pleased as well. In order to keep it more presentable I robbed some leftover wood mulch from next door and tidied up the edges of the bed with a few shovelfuls of that. It’s the dyed mulch which I’m not crazy about, but it being free really appealed to my budget sense.
Even with plants in and mulch applied, the bed is still not out of the woods. There’s always a problem child or two. First it’s the chrysanthemums which I planted and meant to transplant once spring rolled around. That didn’t happen and to add insult to injury they are coming into bloom now…. just when I don’t need fall color.
Another problem are the two cannas I bought. They were from a reputable online nursery and were listed as showing no signs of virus, but the first leaves tell a different story. A refund is already on my account but I really wanted to add a healthy canna ‘Musifolia’ and ‘Pretoria’ to the bed. the leaf streaking and yellowing/browning patches are sure signs of canna virus so these have regrettably been thrown to the trash.
As usual the third problem child is me. How could I pull out this lusty little bull thistle?
As the tropical garden puts on some weight and gets ready for August I’m going to see if my tidying and weeding streak can finally extend next door to the not-so-red-border. It needs the help, but so far all I’ve managed is the start of an access path which will circle around through the back of the border. I’ve been eliminating the weedy campanulas and moving out other plants but still have a long way to go.
What is summer without a few projects? Hopefully my neighbors will oblige me with more grass clippings, maybe temperatures will stay low, and maybe I can blaze a path through the thicket which is beginning to take over. I won’t even mention the water filled hole which has formed where the pond used to be. All the rain we had has made this area into a soggy mess!
I guess it’s a start, and time will tell if it’s also an end. With two weeks of vacation coming up and plenty of weekend trips in between, I may just sit back and enjoy summer rather than sweat out another bed re-do. The wooliness doesn’t seem to bother anyone other than myself and digging is always more pleasant in September!