What’s not working in my garden- or thank goodness for cameras

Cameras can create reality, especially with a little help from a blog. Ain’t it grand?

On my recent Now Blooming  post, a good blogging friend, Julia Munroe Martin made the comment, “I love reading your blog about it [gardening] because you make it look easy!” I not only make it look easy, I also choose to show you the shots that make it look good. Julia’s comment gave me the idea of showing you what doesn’t look so easy, or good. So this post is dedicated to all my blogging friends and readers out there who have to live with reality, and not carefully framed and subsequently cropped camera shots, when they look out a window.

The yellow foliage you see are my anemic bleeding hearts that really need to be cut to the ground. Put that on my to-do list.

These irises are neatly trimmed.

But these renegade ones with the spiking leaves are looking a little bizarre right now.

This is a good one. These are my newly, and not neatly or requested, pruned hostas that I planted this year. Somebody’s been having a party.

This is supposed to be moonbeam morning glories, and I believe the leaves with holes in them are the morning glories. The other heart-shaped leaves belong to some kind of uninvited vine. I’m still holding out hope for the morning glories. The red flower belongs to the Mandeville which is doing fine and is  also climbing the trellis.

Here’s a classic mistake. My bad. When we planted the daisies a year or two ago, seen at the left edge of this photo, I thought it might be cool to have short daisies in front of tall daisies.  I actually think the height difference does not look cool, and unfortunately, the vanilla-colored daylilies, my favorites, are blooming at the same time, right behind the gargantuan daisies. Gardening 101 – never plant tall plants in front of short ones. Note to self: transplant tall daisies after they’re done blooming.

Here’s a closer view where you can see how the daisies are stealing the show from the daylilies. Not good. Even if I do like daisies.

And here’s your run of the mill weed the size of a corn stalk. It’s not the only weed in these gardens as you might have guessed, but I thought it was particularly noteworthy.

Are you all sick of the tales of the Chameleon ivy yet? I know I am. Here is the left end of our Angel Garden. Pretty, isn’t it?

You might not have noticed these dead plants we transplanted after removing the ivy when the drought struck right at the same time that Mark put the sprinkler system out of commission by breaking it in not one but three places while digging out ivy. Casualties of the ongoing war against the Chameleon.

In some ways, you’ve got to admire this persistent plant. I wish you could see it here, but the lighting wasn’t right. In this hole that Mark dug under this landscaping boulder, many ivy plants, full of mature leaves were happily thriving in this dark cave. It’s truly remarkable. If Mark hadn’t pulled them out today and filled the hole back in, I would go out there right now and take a photo with a flash, just so you could see. Alas, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Here’s a section of the garden where the ivy has come back. The first time we “got rid” of it here, we evidently didn’t dig deep enough. It’s back with a vengeance. My latest strategy is to simply pull the plants up, depriving the monster motor, and brains, of the invasive and diabolical organism that lies below the dirt of its energy from the sun as synthesized through these seemingly innocent leaves that are at times even attractive, although they emit an unpleasant, in fact downright disgusting, pungent odor. I’m yanking them until we can get around to finishing them off.

If I wasn’t being painfully honest, I could show you this photo and pass it off as a picture of our daylilies, where you would in all likelihood focus your attention. Or you might notice the angel or the rock with the play of light. You might not even see the ivy, if I didn’t point it out.

Or I could show you a photo from this angle, and you might notice the angel, or the white daisies, and probably wouldn’t even pick up on the fact that they are dwarfing the daylilies.

I love these daylilies.

Here’s a good one. Anybody recognize this? And no, it is not somewhere deep in a woods far away from the house,

but a mere two feet from the St. Francis garden right beside where all my wildflowers, grown from handfuls of cast seeds, have graciously decided to put on a show.

I’ve got spent Spirea to shear,

boxwoods to trim,

and mangled leaves of a big-leaf hosta to remove (probably due to my pressure washer exuberance over the weekend).

Doesn’t the sidewalk look nice? I spent a whole afternoon cleaning moss off of it with the pressure washer. I didn’t even know the sidewalk was that dirty until I started cleaning it. If you’re OCD and you don’t have a pressure washer, you should go get yourself one. Very satisfying.

I’m going to leave you with this hidden picture challenge. Can you find the barberry bush? Neither can I. It looks ridiculous and it’s got to go. Put that on my to-do list too.

The truth is out there.

Have faith. There’s always cameras.

36 thoughts on “What’s not working in my garden- or thank goodness for cameras”

    1. Ha ha. The daisies are putting on quite a show right now. I cut some of the taller ones yesterday to bring inside. At present they are sitting in a pitcher of water in my garage debugging themselves.

      Happy week, dear. And don’t fret too much about the writing. It will come.

  1. This post made me laugh! Of course we feature all the best of the best on our blogs and you are so brave to show the pictures usually left out !!! I love it!!! Honesty at its best, for sure. Still—your gardens are gorgeous and I can only imagine the hours of work that you put into them. I am not that dedicated though I suspect my neighbor with the beautiful flower beds is. And pressure washing is wonderful!!! There is a sermon in that—–when I pressure wash it makes me amazed how beautiful things can look that are hidden under the moss and dirt and crud. Kind of like how God sees inside us and past all the crud…….I wrote a little bit on that a long time ago and need to revisit it!!! Thanks for the great post as always, Christine!

    1. I only wish the hours we put into the gardens could go to doing the more fun and interesting things instead of Chameleon management and damage control. 🙂 Let me know if you repost your pressure washer blog. Gosh I love that thing.

      1. I actually don’t know if I ever posted that one—it is in my FastPencil account I know but maybe not on the blog. Need to revisit that one!!! Carry on wit the chameleon ivy management…..I would have given up by now I am sure and just let it take over.

  2. All this did was reinforced that you make it look easy — let me tell you, I also judiciously crop all photos and there are parts of my yard (and especially house) that look condemnable, haha. But seriously! As for the classic mistake daisies, your flower bed looks amazing. And I stand by my original comment: “You make it look easy.” If I can get up the guts, I’ll post some of my less than perfect spots (but NOT the condemnable ones!). Nice post gardening friend, love it! 🙂 And thanks for the shout out!

    1. Thanks, Julia. We all judge ourselves too harshly at times. One of my dearest friends from years ago kept a house that was always a mess. If she wanted to have me over for breakfast she had to clean up the dishes stacked here and there to do it first. But she was generous with her time when it came to listening to me. Priorities.

    1. Thanks, Marion. I think the garden is nice, too. I just avoid looking at the bad spots. We have been working on the far end and Mark is nearly ready to plant grass seed, even if it is a bad time of year for that. Then we need some perennials. I love that part.

  3. made me smile and then sigh at that chameleon ivy. I have a vine that grows along the river bank that has a lovely bloom. it also grows up the trees and eventually smothers them to death. I keep pulling it out every year and have made progress but it is still there and still there and still there. I call it the Borg Vine as in “resistance is futile, you will be assimilated”!

    1. Having a Trekkie son, I know exactly what you mean when you say “Borg,” although I haven’t heard the term in quite some time. How I miss those days of him being at home watching Next Generation.

  4. Love this post, Christine, and I think I definitely need to find out about that power hose! I have moss growing all over my brickwork and I am a little OCD (o:

    1. Just use caution. Once you start, it could turn into a much bigger project than you anticipated. In the right setting, I like a bit of moss. 🙂

  5. So those four-legged “gardeners” pruned the hostas for you, Christine. Too bad they don’t like the ivy you’d like to get rid of! I do love those daisies. I need to remember to plant some of those. 🙂

    1. I know! Perhaps I could train the deer. Although if it doesn’t work any better than training Arthur, I fear it will be a lost cause.

  6. Have you tried *extremely* carefully sprayed Round Up for chameleon weed? Or 2, 4 D? It works wonders on Creeping Charlie (oh, Charlie is a swift creeper indeed…) and doesn’t harm many other plants. What zone are you in??
    For your partied-on hostas: try spraying Liquid Fence around your whole yard, covering everything in it, if you haven’t. I am not sure your location, but I absolutely recommend sealing up the house as well as possible (close ALL windows), do it on a cooler and less humid evening and wear a mask, gloves and rubber gardening shoes. I live on an island with an out-of-control deer population and it’s the only thing that has worked for me so far. I buy the concentrate and use it in a pump sprayer – it seems like you have a fairly large yard like me, so the pre-mixed spray bottles would probably not be the best choice for major coverage. It’s 100% natural, too, so if those little darlings are munching on your veggies you can protect them as well!
    They got into my semi-new morning glory (that I forgot to spray with Liquid Fence – my fault entirely), but I’m bringin’ her back: I used basic MiracleGro plant food and then the next day watered with Ironide (you can use this every day if needed). Most of the foliage has returned and I am getting blooms. I’ll try to get a picture…Love those cameras…:)

    1. Are you kidding? This stuff eats Round Up for dessert. It actually does kill the foilage, but doesn’t seem to bother the deep-seated runners. Even if we leave a tiny fraction of a piece of runner underground, it shoots back up, at least then we have a fighting chance. This stuff is awful.

      The Liquid Fence is a good idea and I will keep it in mind for some of my more treasured plants, but truthfully the deer problem is a dilemma, because there is really only a mother who brings who fawns through each year, mostly. She feels like something of a pet to me. I’ve left apples out for her before. 😛

      My husband might use it on his vegetables, that he has resorted to enclosing in an actual fence. He believes it is the small creatures who have dined there. If it is the deer, it will be a simple matter for them to reach over the short fence.

      I had beautiful morning glories climbing over my white picket fence at our last house that I dearly loved. One morning I woke up to find little green stubbs where all the blossoms had been. Not a happy camper about that.

      I too use MiracleGro, although haven’t gotten into that routine here in our new house yet. I’ve not used Ironide. Maybe I’ll look into that for particular problem plants.

      That’s for stopping by and sharing what sounds like your considerable experience. I hope you’ll be back.

      I live in the midwest USA. What island do you live on? It sounds enchanting.

      1. I live on Harsens Island, Michigan. I always considered that the “midwest” but when I briefly lived in West Virginia I was informed that no, that is the “north.” So who knows. If you do go the plant-by-plant route with the Liquid Fence (be warned – it smells AWFUL), it’s probably cheaper to buy just the spray bottle of pre-mixed. The bottle of concentrate (makes, I think, 10 gallons or so) is around $40! 🙂

  7. Even your bad looks better than my good right now. The weeds are really doing well this year. You’d have to be superwoman to keep up with them. I’d like to know why the critters eat the stuff we plant and not the stuff (weeds) that grows naturally. Maybe they’re not into organics. 😉

  8. Christine,
    Non-gardeners don’t realize how much work we put into making everything look neat and tidy. We pulled out ivy from this 1948 house (that we presently live in) when we moved in 12 years ago, and I still find bits of it throughout the yard. I recently bought a small garden torch to spot rid weeds that aren’t close to any other plants–it words fabulously. Your garden looks great and I like that it’s got contours of hills–I live in New Jersey where it’s terribly flat–everywhere!

    1. You’re right. Oh my goodness. I love the idea of a garden torch for the ivy. That would certainly help me take out some of my frustration with it. Even if it doesn’t work, it might be satisfying.

      The hills are nice, but hard on my arthritic knees. 🙂 Sometimes I long for my old level-ground garden.

  9. Very nice to know your garden is normal…there’s great…and then there’s…really bad. Funny how we only think to put our best photos forward.

    Neighbors always compliment my yard. I often wonder if they’re nearsighted…or too kind. Then again, we tend to be more critical of ourselves than others are. I’m positive I never see the flaws others see in their homes and gardens.

    BTW…a really effective deer and rabbit repellent is a fertilizer called Milorganite. We discovered it while living in a rural town in Connecticut where there were as many deer as townspeople. No kidding!

    Milorganite has blood meal in it and smells…actually reeks. I kind of like it because it makes me feel my plants are safe from hungry intruders. I spread it around the perimeter of the property as well as on the lawn so that wildlife won’t even set foot in and around here. A huge bonus is my plants grow to monstrous sizes. And the lawn is lush…and needs mowing more often. Thanks to the rain.

    1. We are hard on ourselves, aren’t we. I’m sure your neighbors are right. I bet it’s lovely.

      Thanks for the repellent tip. I’ll keep it in mind if the critters start to get the best of me.

      1. As I’ve aged I’ve tried to be more compassionate with myself. I do what I can but I definitely take more time to “smell the stargazers.”

        Life is getting shorter…small pleasures take precedence. 🙂

    1. The thing I love about perennials is that you don’t really need a green thumb as long as mother nature is doing her part of offering good quantities of rain and sunshine. It’s miraculous, really.

      But it does take work to keep things clean and neat.

      We all have our callings. . .

  10. Your “weed the size of a cornstalk” is one of the many shapes and types of wild lettuce, and it’s just as tasty as the cultivated kind (and more nutritious). Pick it early in the season if you don’t want a little bitterness; personally, I don’t mind.

    The thick snow-white juice from the mature stem, while VERY bitter, has millennia of folk use as a painkiller and sedative (_lactucarium_). The scientific opinion of its usefulness is divided, but not as negative as Wikipedia makes out. In modern times it is also dried, made into small balls and smoked as a mild psychotropic–so-called “lettuce opium”. If you are going to try this, please READ UP ON IT FIRST; there are safety issues around dosage.

    The leaves are not medicinal.


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