Thursday, July 12, 2007

Garden Uglies

Colleen from In the Garden Online has recently challenged us in her post The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to share some of our less than perfect garden endeavors, in order that it might encourage others. It's always fun to share our successes but it just plain goes against our nature to share the failures, as well. And that, in itself, is a good reason to do so. Humility really is a good character trait. Yessiree. Soooo....big goes.

The Bad

This garden bed has been a huge challenge/disappointment. It has the difficult conditions of complete morning shade, followed by hot afternoon sun. It also has poor soil which doesn't retain moisture. In the Spring this bed is occupied by daffodils, with grape hyacinths in the foreground and actually looks pretty decent. Not so in summer!

I haven't planted perennials here for fear of disturbing the bulbs, and have instead tried planting countless different annuals, once the bulbs are finished each year. But, alas, nothing wants to grow here! This year I decided to try Nicotiana, as it is listed for sun or shade. You can barely see the plants it the photo, they are so small! They have just been sitting there since I planted them in late May. This is what happens to everything I have tried in this spot. Even the not fussy Lamb's Ears in the back of the bed looks spindly and sick. I am disheartened to have this bed be so obviously empty every summer. If you have a solution for me, please share it!

Some things I probably need to try:

1. Prune out the undergrowth behind the bed, in hopes of getting some filtered light through the deciduous tree growing directly behind the bed, and the pine trees behind and above that.
2. Improve the soil with organic matter. This will have to be something purchased, as my limited amount of precious homemade compost goes on my vegetable beds.
3. Try some Sun/Shade perennials instead of Annuals. I'm thinking of trying Cranesbill. Any plant suggestions are wholeheartedly welcomed!

Whew, I made it through that one. Now on to....

The Ugly

This is a photo of the bottom part of my tomato plants. Every year in the spring, shortly after I plant them, the Flea beetles have a feast on the leaves, and they end up full of tiny holes. Later in the season those same leaves turn yellow, curl up and become unsightly. This also happens to my cukes, beans,kale, and squash! So I end up just picking off the bad leaves, which doesn't seem to harm the plants and leaves them looking much better. I am in the process of doing this now, as it seems the yellowing of the damaged leaves really starts showing up in the summer heat.

Anyone know how to rid the garden of Flea Beetles?

The Good

On a more positive note, Dear Husband and I managed to get the white picket fence painted this Spring, (We also had some help one weekend from Dear Daughter.) It was greatly in need of it, with it's peeling paint, dirt, and mildew. It was a lot of work with all the scrubbing, scraping, priming and painting but it is now sparkling again in it's fresh white coat! This photo, taken at dusk, reallly highlights the whiteness of the fence.


There, that wasn't so bad after all. How about it, Gardeners? Anyone else want to show and tell your Bad and Uglies?


bogie said...

That last photo shows a lovely area!

I see by your comment on "This Garden is Illegal" that you are considering gooseneck loosestrife for your difficult area. I think it would do well for you there, and it looks like it could also be contained in that area by the rocks. Good luck with it!

Colleen said...

Thanks so much for doing a post for "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"! I took a huge sigh before I posted mine, too :-)

I was trying to think of solutions for your bed there. It's such a pretty spot...I love the stone edging, and the backdrop of evergreens (though it shades it out...) makes a nice background. I'm pretty sure cranesbill would work's a tough plant. Have you considered a few daylilies? If you're worried about disturbing your bulbs (which I wouldn't want to do, either!) you could buy the roots that they sell in garden centers. They're really dinky for a couple of years, but they're easy to plant, and you get a lot more plants for the money. Your patio/picket fence are so pretty! And is that a greenhouse I see in the background? I am so jealous....

Thanks again for participating!

Carol said...

Your fence and greenhouse look great. I don't have any recommendations for the flea beetles, I seem to only notice them on my eggplant. (Do they make "flea collars" for plants?)

And your ugly, I agree that cranesbill might work well there. I've got some that does well in a neglected area, but it gets pretty good sun. I would add a lot of compost to the soil and then overplant in the spring when you can see where the bulbs are.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Connie said...

bogie - Thanks for the suggestion of loosestrife. I think you're right about it not being able to go too far in that spot. I wonder if it can take the amount of shade it would get there? I will have to research it a bit.

Colleen - You're was a great idea. If, as a result of this post I can find something that will work in that bed, it will be worth the humiliation, ha. I will consider daylilies.
And yes, that is my new greenhouse which went up last fall...a lifetime dream come true for me. That would be in the VERY GOOD catagory. :-)

Carol - Thanks! Flea collars..too funny! I think I need a flea BLANKET as I understand they hatch out of the ground. Thanks for the advice...yes, I must do the compost.

Me said...

Oh, I am glad you did this. I need to know that the ugly parts of my garden are mirrored in other gardens.

I will try to post some later this week after I get over vacation.

I love the poppies and your photos have really inspired me - I think they will be making more appearances in my garden next year.

Mary said...

Love the white picket fence.

For the "bad" spot -- I agree -- dump a couple of bags of commercial compost on it to improve the soil. And as far as plants, how about some bulletproof daylilies? Even orange "ditch lilies" might look nice there and they love hot afternoon sun. More bulletproof annuals might include wax begonias and Gallardias. Oh, and other summer bulbs like Crocosmia. Other perennials -- Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Russian sage, Artemesia. Lots of options!

Connie said...

me - Yeah, we all have those areas, don't we? I hope you had a nice vacation! You won't regret planting poppies, they will reward you for years to come. :-)

Mary - Thanks, I love my picket fence, too. :-) Thanks also for the plant suggestions...I am seriously considering lilies, would have to plant them in spring between the daffodil bulbs are so I don't disturb them.

vonlafin said...

Love the picket fence area, mine needs to be painted, but I think some of the pickets are rotten, so it's going to take more work than I want to invest right now.
I've got lots of Chameleon plant for your ugly area if you want it, I guarantee it will grow there. ;-)
(just kidding, I wouldn't recommend that plant to anybody, no matter how ugly the area is)

Nancy said...

Boy do I have the photos to share too! I'll get pictures on tomorrow. Love your backyard with the darling white picket fence.