8.08.2008

Goldenrod and the 4H Stone:: August in the Garden


It's an interesting time of year, August in the garden. This year I've really noticed the hand-off from flower to flower: the early spring ephemera blending into the climbing roses, then jasmine, clematis, gladiolas and other corms in June. A few weeks ago, the asteraceae family started to wake up and now they're carrying the whole garden: yarrow, dahlias, daisies, mums, sunflowers and in front of my first attempt at a wattle fence are my nod to the prairie states: black-eyed susan (rudbeckia hirta), echinacea purpurea and goldenrod (solidago canadensis). And those little daisies with their unwieldy Latin names that I can never remember. I think they're commonly called the Santa Barbara daisy; anyone want to help with the Latin?

Since the soaker hoses are finally fixed and I've added compost, things are losing that sickly gasping look. I'm able to be in the garden again, guilt-free, now that I don't imagine the plants looking at me imploringly like Oliver Twist with his headmaster, gruel bowl extended, "Please sir, can I have some more..."

Blooper's Reel...I'm recording some of my biggest garden mistakes of the year, the bloopers reel, to learn from and because it's easy to only list the highlights, and leave out the failures.

The hostas....I seriously miscalculated how much shade I have and the hostas all came up and then turned brown and crackly. In gardening parlance that means dead. The western bleeding heart (dicentra formosa) is looking pretty bad too, which I think speaks more to the oak tree above it being pruned last summer than anything else. So that's not my fault. But it still looks grotty.

The peonies.....I never got around to fixing the irrigation system in the garden, and tried to overhead water everything every few days. The peonies were a casualty, I've never grown them before and will probably not try again in this county, not without a really great watering plan, or a neighborhood boy to stand there with a watering can from noon until five.

The vegetable garden.....I've eked out a corner for some veggies, but I'm not really a veggie gardener. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about this, esp. because I came into gardening from an "edibles" perspective with lots of thoughts about community development, food security and sustainable agriculture. I have a certificate from UCSC's Center for Agro-ecology and Sustainable Food Systems (one of the top programs in the world), but I am a lousy vegetable farmer. I always blame it on my location, but honestly, I have a hard time being motivated. The perennials are way more interesting to me, and I love supporting the local farmers in my area (over a 100 organic farms in SC county alone!) who are much better at producing amazing food than I am in my piddly little 6 ft. of space. So this year, I dried to a crisp a few heads of lettuce and slowly starved some basil and a few tomatoes. One tomato is fighting back, and has valiantly put out some hard green little fruit, but he is no match for me! By the way, I would still love to do some community development work, somehow growing food, (that desire hasn't gone away & it's still a thing I want to do), but not in my own garden.

So over all it's been a good summer in the garden and I've really loved my little space to plant in. It's going to be so strange & sad to see the oak tree go-it's got an advanced case of Sudden Oak Death brought on by phytopthera ramorum. I hate so many things about it, like losing all the lovely dappled shade that my hydrangeas, western bleeding heart, hellebores and wild ginger need. I'm not quite sure where they will get moved to, probably to the no man's land on the side of the house, we'll see....

Lathrop, here we come!.....And now we're off to Yosemite for a couple of days. We're camping tonight in Lathrop, CA. Of course I've never heard of Lathrop (on I5 near Stockton), so when I looked it up online, I was directed to the town's official website, which announced that today they are spraying for the West Nile Virus. Lucky me!

4 comments:

TopVeg said...

Perennial vegetables are very forgiving - and once they are established they produce for years and years. Would artichokes grow in your zone?

rosa said...

Sadly, no. They grow right down the road on the coast, we're about 40 minutes from 'the Artichoke Capitol of the World' (Castroville), but we're a bit too inland. (Hot dry summers.) My one artichoke languised for a few years, with only 3 leaves present at a time, before it finally gave up the ghost.
I should try the perennial kale, I forgot about that. Thanks!

)(( hannah mello ))( said...

WHO ARE YOU?!!! Colleen!!!!!!! hands DOWN, the most incredible blog i have ever set eyes on. no joke.

:)

sarah said...

I know where Lathrop is! Every summer when I was a kid, we had to drive through it to get to my grandparent's cabin! Too funny! I hope it was a refreshing, fun time away.

(p.s. I finally blogged! well, kind of)

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.