21 Jun Dress Like Coco – Live Like Jackie – Act Like Audrey – Garden Like Martha
I built my house twelve years ago. When I say I built it, I mean to say Dan Pierce actually built it, but I did design it. When I say I designed it, I mean to say Richard designed it. Twelve years ago I got a complete blank slate for a garden and I did indeed design and build that – because neither Dan nor Richard wanted to. I had big plans, huge plans for my tiny 1 acre piece of paradise. Fast forward twelve years and I’ve realized I designed and built a 1 acre jungle of weeds, rocks and frustration! Paradise my behind, my dad was right (kills me to say that), I should have installed an irrigation system and 1 full acre of sod (he did suggest three junipers on the corner of my walkway)!
I give up, enough is enough! I’ve had it! These are the kind of phrases, tired but true, on my mind and I know some of yours too by sundown each of these June days, when spring has slipped into the reality of summer, after eight or ten hours spent trying to solve the puzzle I started in the dirt some years ago.
Where do all the plants go to make a pretty garden? I wonder, close to tears, surrounded by pots and pots of plants. At the nursery, I had been certain I had to have them. Alec does remind me I should not take stuff home to the Garden of Benign Neglect, but every greenhouse is filled with plants I fell in love with when we potted them back in April! But now, in their company in my driveway, I am feeling kind of lost.
What goes next to what? How many of these with how many of those will make the picture perfect (people will judge me – I’m supposed to be really good at this!)? And why did I put that there, what was I thinking? Oh, why didn’t I draw a plan, the way I tell others to do, and then stick to it?
My love-hate of garden-making has made running my garden centers seem precariously close to the dark side lately as I desperately dig and dig some more, determined to find the answer. Twelve years ago my Dad did not mock my dream of a backyard paradise, but he did tell me it wouldn’t be as rewarding or relaxing as I imagined.
But I did not really understand his words until this past weekend, back in the dirt. I found myself feeling stressed and panicky, starting ten tasks and finishing none, fixating on all the holes in the puzzle all over again. Then I was overcome by a wild, freeing thought: how liberating it would be to just go get one of the loaders and level whole place to rubble! If there had been a helpline for suicidal gardeners, I would have called it. Oh, if only for a 12-Step meeting of Gardeners Anonymous, I could have gone in and confessed:
“My name is Michelle, and I’m a plant-a-holic and I should know better!”
Some days I just want to throw in the trowel! But I know that gardening on any scale is a process. Even great gardens don’t start out great; they take time, and lots of reshuffling, the kind of thing we’re all out there doing from early spring through right about now. Gardening is a process, and I remind myself of that every time I stop to look at what I have accomplished.
Does your garden give you joy? Then it is a beautiful place, something not so common in this world of ours. My Garden of Benign Neglect does give me joy, unfinished spots and all. It also makes me laugh at my own inability to take good advice; my dad’s advice to just plant a lawn and my staffs advice to stop bringing plants home to die!
Controlling slugs and mosquitoes naturally is really what I wanted to write about this week! With summer weather here, slugs in some areas (particularly wet ones) may seem everywhere. They eat holes in the leaves of many vegetable, annual, and perennial plants. One of their favorites is one of my favorite perennials—hostas. There are many chemical and non-chemical controls for slugs, including an organic one that contains iron phosphate as the active ingredient. The slugs eat the pellets and die, yet the iron phosphate doesn’t harm other wildlife or the environment. The one I use is from Bonide and called Slug Magic. It works so well that we have stopped selling all the non organic controls. I’d advise you to avoid the toxic baits, as children, pets and wildlife may eat them with serious consequences.
There are many other methods to trap slugs, such as under boards or in wet newspaper rolls in the garden. The more famous trap is saucers of beer which attract them and in which they drown. Some gardeners swear by coffee grounds, sharp gravel or egg shells sprinkled around plants, while others report mixed results at best. Yet the caffeine from a weak coffee spray often deters slug feeding on leaves. You can buy copper strips or products to place around choice plants, just for this purpose. These supposedly repel slugs through creating an electrical charge as they cross.
And if dealing with icky slugs wasn’t enough, its mosquito season. Easy control steps involve examining your yard for areas with standing water, such as old tires, empty pots and old containers or upturned garbage can lids. Once you find them, dump them. Mosquitoes breed in these types of places, so by removing them you’ll get a head start on controlling the pests. The larvae that hatch from eggs need about 10 days to feed on organic matter in the still water. Use “mosquito dunks” in ponds, fountains or rain barrels. These disks contain a specific strain of Bt (Bti, a natural bacterium) that controls the mosquito larvae.
Beyond slugs, bugs and throwing in the trowel we are here to help!
Michelle and Team Lakeview!