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June 27, 2005

Going Walkabout

In a perfect world, I would work in the garden every day for an hour or two. There certainly is enough work to do and I would enjoy it.

But with our busy schedules, that just isn’t possible. I’ve lowered my sights a bit (okay, a lot) and am aiming to just do a quick walkabout instead. That way at least I can try to keep tabs on what’s going on in the garden.

A perfect example of this happened last week. I walked past the stand of hollyhocks and lavender and thought, “Oh, aren’t these girls looking nice.” Then I walked past them again later and really took a look at the hollyhock leaves. What the heck!

Graham - June 2005 078.jpg

Upon closer inspection, I discovered scads of tiny green caterpillars skeltonizing the leaves. They were everywhere – on top of the leaves and underneath. Most were less than a half-inch long but others had grown to over an inch. My method of pest control? A satisfying squish. And I’m sure I’ll rot in caterpillar hell for it.

I did daily checks over the week to catch any of the critters that had escaped my first barrage. I’m pleased to say I think I’ve gotten them all. For now.

Weeding is another time to really pay attention to what’s going on with your plants. While you are in amongst the thick of things, keep your eyes open for infestations, missing leaf parts, wilted stems, etc. These will all provide clues as to the health of your plants.

I’m Hunting Wabbits. Be vewwy, vewwy quiet.

Going walkabout also tunes you into the “Wait, a minute!” moments. A few days ago, I looked out the window and noticed that the lone delphinium that made it through the winter was about ready to bloom. It carried two three-foot stalks, and I think it was the kind with a dark indigo exterior and a white “bee”. Gorgeous. I couldn’t wait.

So yesterday, as I was weeding, I realized, “Wait a minute. The delphinium is gone.” Kaput. Nada. Tot. Just a pile of chewed up stems were left.

Now, I can blame our puppy for a lot of things, but I do know that he is not a plant eater.

I looked around again and noticed that the stems of a clematis I had transferred to a nearby trellis were also snapped off, and all of the violet clumps in the vicinity were suspiciously lacking any leaves.

I had seen a little rabbit in that particular bed earlier this week and had even helped it get out of our fenced yard before the dogs found it. But it seems to be stupid enough to risk the fury of two dogs for the taste of my delicious plants.

Now what? A rabbit in our backyard is a fatality waiting to happen. Our whippets are genetically programmed to chase – and we have bagged up enough cold bunny bodies for the garbage to know how this will end.

Stay tuned.

What’s Happening in the Garden Now

Graham - June 2005 069.jpg

The roses are in full bloom. Take a look at these two lovelies: Cary Grant (I think) and a Mr. Lincoln bud. The Cary Grants practically glow at sunset. I was able to get out early this morning and give all the roses a second spraying.

If you need an attractive groundcover, consider using alpine strawberries. They have a gently rounding habit and produce tiny, tasty fruit.

The Mystery Plant

Okay, the “Nigra” hollyhock was pretty easy last week. This one should be a little more difficult.

Can you guess what this week’s mystery plant is?

Here’s What’s Blooming Now

Campanula glomerata
Alpine strawberry – and fruiting, too
Missouri primrose
Hollyhock “Nigra”
Wisteria “Blue Moon”
Lavender “Hidcote”
Sweet William
Oxeye daisy
Penstemon “Husker Red”
Salvia “May Night”
Indian blanket
Nepeta “Walker’s Low”
Rose – “Carefree Wonder,” “William Baffin,” “Graham Thomas” and more

Garden Chores for the Week

Weed in the prairie garden. The clovers are taking over.

I started my slug traps with the cheapest beer Brian could buy. They have been after his new hosta. I’ll have to keep checking the traps and keep them topped off. Graham has already counted seven dead slugs in the traps.

Vegetable Garden

Some of the bush beans are doing very well, but I think Peter Rabbit may have found these as well. The climbing peas with edible pods should be in full production this week. They are a great snack when working in the garden. Just walk over, grab one off and chomp!

Posted by maasx003 at June 27, 2005 8:46 PM | Gardens


I am so sorry about your rabbits! Your casualities are heart breaking. I will eagery await your solution to your fury invader. Only one out of every 20 rabbits lives longer than a year. That's still one too many!

Posted by: Greengirl at June 29, 2005 11:28 PM

Jacki/Brian--what is a slug trap? My hostas on the west side of house are huge, but leaves are full of holes--don't see any slugs though--help!!! I can do the beer thing, but what is the trap?

Posted by: karenm at July 4, 2005 1:19 PM

Karen, you typically don't see any slugs during the day. They are hiding underneath mulch or rocks or pots until the cool of the evening. "Shot holes" on your hostas are a very good indication that you have slugs. Slug traps can be purchased commercially or you can make your own by sinking a shallow bowl or jar lid into the dirt. Pour beer into the bowl, taking care so it doesn't spill over. The slugs are attracted to the yeasty smell, will crawl in to drink, get plastered and drown. Or something like that. We use green plastic traps with lids that we purchased from the Gardener's Supply Company. They have a website. The lids are important if you have inquisitive children or pets. The morning after you put the traps out, check to see how many of the little buggers you've trapped. You want to change the beer at least weekly, if not more often, particularly in host weather. Otherwise the beer gets really moldy and disgusting. Another way to catch slugs is to lay down a piece of cardboard or newspaper. They will congregate under the flat surfaces to wait out the hot day. Just turn the cardboard over in the morning and start squashing. It's very satisfying.

Posted by: jackie at July 7, 2005 10:59 PM