Monday, June 4, 2012

Front Garden Grade Card

People tell you not to flip out when you plant perennials for the first time.  You need to have an eye for the long term picture.  They will eventually yield that full-out English garden grown-in-together-for-years look.  After a few years.  If one needs immediate validation as a gardener, annuals are a better choice.  They poof up, they die, and next year you start all over again. 

Well I can wait.  Delayed gratification is better.  And yet.
I have garden anxiety.  When the box arrived from Bluestone I peeked in excitedly (that's a lie, I tore that box open) and the stalks of my perennials seemed so small.  Are they going to be ok out there?  A strong gust of wind would blow them over, or so it seemed.  And now that they've been in the ground about a month now, I have to say that I'm a bit worried that I may not have any green on these thumbs at all.

In the beginning, the geraniums looked... bad.

Geranium Rozanne

They haven't gotten much bigger after a month.  Not much in new green growth, but there are finally flowers.  
I think maybe they need more water than I've been giving them.  I can say that now that I am a newly minted gardener, I am keenly aware of the weather.  I'm always checking for the next rain.  

If anyone has any geranium advice, I'm all ears!

Salvia "Eveline"
Out of 4 plants, this was the only healthy one of the bunch, I'm sorry to say.
Little buds peeping out, and the first signs of slug attacks
This was one of the first ones I pulled from the box.  This one actually flowered.

With the exception of this one pictured here, the salvia eveline looked terrible.  They were moldy and snail-ridden when I pulled them from the shipping box.
note the snail eggs
 Three of the salvia eveline came out like a train wreck.  Their leaves were either wilty and mushy or their were holes in the leaves.  They came out of the shipping box covered in slugs and slug eggs.  Strangely enough, none of the other plants had pests on them, not even the other species of salvia.

A few days after planting one of them died altogether, and the other two lost most of their leaves.  I sent a note and some photos to Bluestone, letting them know how disappointed I was in their slug-riddled flowers.   They were really stand-up about the whole thing.  I got an apology and replacement flowers within a week.  That's a good company, right there.  I approve.  They stood by the quality of their product, and I respect that.  Slugs can happen.

There were new holes in the salvia eveline leaves pretty much every time I checked them.  Finally I spoke to a colleague who told me that it was slugs.  Slugs again!  It seems that when you get rid of one garden nemesis (groundhogs) you find yourself another.  Sure enough there were slugs underneath the plant or on the underside of the leaves pretty much each time I checked it.  I tried slug poison pellets because Bobby is never unsupervised in the front yard.  Sure enough the snail presence diminished, and I don't often see the snot-like slug trails in the mulch anymore.   I did try the beer trap in the front flower bed as well, and again I never had a single slug in it.  The only effect it had was to make the front of our house smell like a college dorm.  

Salvia "Plumosa"

Unlike the salvia eveline, the plumosa hasn't been sluggy.  Right after planting they became infested with red spider mites and white flies.  I used a spray called Sevin for that, and it seems to have worked.  The plumosa leaves, which had yellowed from the stress of infestation regained their green color.  I respray whenever I catch a glimpse of white flies.  

You see how they flop over?  I'm not sure how to handle this.  The stems look pretty weak to me.  I wonder if this is simply because the flowers are too heavy, or if there's a structural weakness stemming from (no pun intended) something else...

I feel like I just can't catch a break with salvia.    

Nepeta Dropmore Hybrid (Catmint)
It had blooms right away, but then stopped flowering.  It has filled out with more greenery though, which is good enough for now.  At least its not dying.  
Patience, patience.

Nepeta Walker's Low (Catmint)
I have two of these, and they look like completely different plants. 

Plant one stands upright, growing tall. 

Plant two is growing along the ground.  
incidentally, this one isn't flowering at all...

Not looking real good.  May be sturdy enough to survive, but I'm losing confidence.  There is less greenery than there was when they were first planted.  Seeking out poppy advice is problematic because inevitably a google search bring up illicit poppy production webpages, which is not helpful.  

Iris "Big Blue"
not blooming, not real healthy.

Daylily "Barbara Mitchell"

There you have it.  the catmint and the geranium and the salvia are doing ok.  The poppies, irises, and lilies are regressing.  

50% is not a good gardening grade.  

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