Thursday, June 8, 2017

Not The Day I Planned

On Saturday morning, watering my porch plants I noted damage to the nasturtium leaves.  Its wasn't unexpected; white 'cabbage butterflies' are in evidence early in the spring, flitting over the garden, depositing their invisible eggs which morph into nasty voracious green caterpillars.  In addition to cole crops they have an appetite for nasturtiums, sometimes decimating an entire plant overnight.
I squashed all that I could find.  Two or three more were in evidence on Sunday, two on Monday--and they moved their operation to the mini shrub roses on the concrete walk.
I went in search of a container of diatomacious earth--which is stored in a red plastic coffee can.  I've seen it numerous times when poking through oddments still unsorted in the basement storage room.
Half an hour of rummaging turned up some interesting items, but not the container I needed.

Bonny uses diatomacious earth in the scrumptious smelling feed which she mixes for her goats, so I trudged down the lane, a container in hand to beg a cupful.

It rained in gentle drenching fits through much of Sunday, Sunday night and well into Monday.
The stems of the mini roses being long and rather lax, were bedraggled and bent by the rain.
Tuesday morning was quietly overcast and, expecting more rain, I hurried to accomplish my outdoor chores. 
It would, I thought, be a good day to finish hemming the curtains destined for the west windows of the upstairs hallway; I might bake, hoover the accumulated cat hair on the stairs,  do a bit of writing.
First, I would go down the lane with an offering of  wilted lettuce and beet leaves for the billy goats.

Taking the route from the lower back porch past the garden I was appalled to find that overnight [!] the row of kale had been riddled by an army of cabbage worms. I had been so intent of the fate of my nasturtiums and roses that I hadn't considered that the kale, our only cole crop of the moment, would be a likely target.
With a wail of distress I began pinching green worms, only to realize that the scope of the damage was too great for salvage.
Jim poked his head round the shop door to see why I was fuming.
I suggested he bring out the weed eater and buzz it over the kale row.
His solution was slightly more drastic; he fired up the riding mower, raised the blades to highest point and roared along the row spraying juicy macerated leaves--and worms--into the nearby stand of green beans.  He parked the mower and we stood in the sudden silence inhaling the odor of gasoline and crushed kale.
Dusting his hands, as men do over a job well done, he announced, "That ought to do them!" and retreated to the  shop.

I retrieved my goat offering and trudged rather despondently down the lane.

Glancing toward the upper pasture I noted several clumps of brilliant orange blossoms.
Butterfly weed!  [Asclepias tuberosa]  This grows along ditch banks and roadsides, sometimes producing a mutant strain with brilliant chrome yellow blooms.
Many years ago I bought a plant from a mail order nursery, hovered over it and watched while it failed to thrive, ultimately turning up its leaves and wasting away.
In my first Kentucky garden I managed to establish a small clump that I dug from the roadside.

Pulling on my wellies, armed with a shovel and a 5 gallon bucket, I stumped down the lane, climbed a gate and wallowed up the pasture hill through hip-high wet grass and weeds.
I eventually managed to disinter two clumps of asclepias along with  enough heavy moist earth to help the plants re-establish.  For good measure I dug several stalks of black-eyed Susan [rudbeckia hirta] and an unidentified blue flower on a slender wiry stem. 
Long before I reached the gate, bucket, shovel and floppy plants had become very heavy.
Jim kindly brought the plants--as well as three more bricks scrounged for my walk--on the tractor, so I was spared the effort of dragging my prizes up the lane.
I had no clear idea of where these plants were going to be installed, until I thought of the area below the concrete landing. 
This space had been planted to creeping phlox by the previous owners. It bloomed prettily the first spring that we were here, last year it was feeble, this spring saw the phlox overtaken by weeds.
I haven't grown this, but have a suspicion that it is rather short-lived.
Very early this spring I divided and moved some daylilies into this area. I also set in the spiderwort gifted by my neighbor. 
I rather recklessly decided to dig over the whole area, stick in some aggressive and hardy items in hope of establishing a sort of wild garden that would crowd out the weeds and provide color in that problem spot.
I dug and grubbed for hours.  The gritty soil was damp enough to release the weeds which I flung down into the driveway. 
The wildlings were planted and I looked around for other candidates to fill the space. 
Several clumps of achillea raised from seed last year were meant to be 'Summer Pastels' but proved on blooming to be the native white yarrow of field and roadside. This I moved to the wild garden along with two clary sage which had self sown in awkward spots. 
I took a break to swallow a helping of leftover pasta casserole and a can of iced tea, then back to the garden.  
I was hurting by then, but I like to do a job 'all of a piece' when possible.
It was nearly dusk when I conceded that I couldn't root out the last of the weeds.
I was too tired to go in search of the wheelbarrow, so began scraping up the debris of weeds and clotted soil with my garden fork, lugging them down below the garden.

I trimmed some of the wilting stems from my transplants, lopped invasive branches from the rugosas, checked the nasturtiums and potted roses again for any lingering cabbage worms.
I was ready to call it a day!
The bliss  of shedding mud-encrusted clothing, of stepping into a hot shower!
Tylenol and a mug of hot tea to address aching muscles.
Rocking chair, cats and a book before creaking upstairs to clean cool sheets and the  warm comfort of a quilt.

This morning I surveyed the result of my efforts.  I found a jar of saved cosmos seeds and scattered them over my rough garden. I considered finishing the weeding.
Jim needed to make delivery of a tractor he had sold, and it didn't take much persuasion for me to put on decent jeans and ride with him to Tennessee.
Before leaving I walked along my brick path, camera in hand to record the blooms of the day.
Tomorrow I will deal with more weeds.
The hallway curtains must wait for a rainy day or for an evening when I am ambitious!

Achillea, Summer Pastels, coming into bloom.

Miniature day lily, Tiny Ghost.

Coneflower, not quite in bloom.

Clary sage in bud.

Platycodon, transplanted from the Cane Valley property.

East side of the garden.

Willis--always faithful gardening companion.


  1. Oh, so disappointing about the kale, but the rest of the garden looks lovely. I hope your hard work pays off and that everything grows and blooms nicely. I had just potted up some marigolds yesterday and it rained overnight bringing out all the slugs. I checked on my flowers this morning and the slugs had eaten almost one whole plant! Sigh......I hope you recover and find time to do that much anticipated sewing! x Karen

  2. Wow, what an interesting post about a gardening day in your life there. I like your new garden space and hope all of these 'wildlings' will do wonderfully well for you. I 'love' spiderwort. I know some consider them to be weeds, not me. :-)

    Have a wonderful weekend ~ FlowerLady

  3. You get so much done, you put me to shame, an hour in the garden is about all I can do.

  4. puts me to shame too, and your 'patch' is so much bigger than mine!! Leanne x