Tuesday, May 23, 2006


The Baptisia australis is just starting to bloom:

I'm realizing that at this time of year, pretty much nothing in the garden is blooming, except the rhododendron, which looks sad, the snowball viburnums, and the drumstick alliums. I may plant more alliums at the end of the year, here and there, just to jazz things up a bit. April showers bring May flowers, so where they heck are they? (And we all know what Mayflowers bring...)

I dug up the red rosebush last weekend and replaced it with a witch hazel. That rosebush and I had a good run. It was planted next to the patio when we moved here in 1995, climbing on a 10-foot chain link fence that surrounded the patio. In digging it out, my dad broke a shovel that belonged to our new neighbors. I was sure the bush would die after all the roots we cut through, but over the next few years it flourished next to the garage. The flowers were bright magenta-red and very delicate - a touch and the petals fell off. It therefore wasn't the best cut flower, though the nice round clumps the flowers formed fit perfectly into small fat vases. It usually flowered from June until November or December, teaching me one of my first lessons about how long the growing season really can last if the weather cooperates.

In recent years, however, it became very susceptible to black spot. I sprayed a couple times a year but usually too late, and I admit I wasn't good about removing the infected leaf litter (due to my laissez-faire attitude towards the garden). Each year the canes came back a little yellower and a little less vigorous, though I still got as many blooms as the shrub could handle. Finally, this year it was clear that it was never going to recover its former vigor, so I took it out. We still have the pink rose next to the front porch, and despite huge adversity over the years it is primed to be the prettiest rosebush in the neighborhood when it starts blooming in a couple of weeks. When roses succeed, they make you look like the most skilled gardener in the world. When they fail, and this is true for everything in the garden, just cut your losses and move on.

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