A Delicate Balance, and (Un)Truth in Advertising

I have now reached a state of somewhat wary détente with the Temporary Garden while awaiting the discovery of my still-elusive next house. The compromise is that I now pull out any oversized or egregiously ambitious weeds, employ an extended-control herbicide over large spaces such as the brick patio and walkways, and of course pay the lawn guy to cut the grass once a week from May through October. But other than that, I am leaving the property entirely to its own devices.

battlefield 1For instance, as the tiger lilies, tawny daylilies, and houttonyia engage in 3-way warfare for this prime raised-bed real estate, they are free to have at it. I shall, like Switzerland, remain neutral.

battlefield 2Another battlefield features the elite troops of blue Lyme grass, sedum, and variegated lamium. I think the lamium is winning at the moment but I have no doubt that the grass will turn the tide in its favor quickly, especially because I did cut it back once already which, as everyone knows, merely inspires the troops to greater efforts. The astilbe at left calmly awaits its fate at the hands of the victor. (But I will intervene to remove the oak seedling sneaking in a the lower right, mainly because I don’t want to have to rebuild the raised bed which is unfortunately nothing but a row of bluestones stacked loosely one atop the other.)

There have been a couple of exceptions, of course. When a freak hailstorm smashed the upper half of a six-foot-tall cotinus, instantly converting it into a three-foot dwarf, I did step in to do triage with the pruners. When an unexpectedly obstreperous neighbor made a fuss over a conifer trunk that was leaning slightly over – but not anywhere near actually touching – their vinyl fencing, it was cut off more in the interest of litigation avoidance than anything else. But as far as trying to eliminate anything except turfgrass in the lawn, or to waste time and effort seeking an “emerald carpet” throughout the summer months, forget it. To paraphrase Marie Antoinette (who never actually said the famous phrase anyhow), “Let them go dormant.” After all, beige is as valid a color as green is.

sedumless bedI did do one mini-project though, and that was to remove the creeping sedum from the Tortured Conifer‘s bed. It had gotten to the point where 50% of it was grass blades nearly a foot high, making an extremely annoying sight from my kitchen sink window. So I finally yanked it all out. It came out surprisingly easily (the sedum, that is; the grass was its’ usual tenacious self and required significantly more work.)

Currently I am studiously avoiding another project, perhaps better characterized as ‘A Situation’. The photo below explains it without the use of extraneous words:

a situationIf anyone knows of a wasp/hornet spray that actually DOES “reach up to 27 ft” as advertised, please let me know because I’ve wasted my money on several brands already. Six or eight feet seems to be the actual maximum spray distance and that’s far too close to the nest for my comfort. The only other hose bib is below the front porch deck which is grossly inconvenient but definitely safer than approaching anywhere near that nest, which is getting larger every day (it’s now the size of a regulation baseball.) Said nest is going to have to stay there until November or December, at which time I intend to whack it down with an extension handle – but well after the present tenants have departed!

(Un)Truth in Advertising

As far as adding any new plants, I don’t; in part because I’ve no idea how much of the front yard is hosting spores generated by the Evil Fungi and I wouldn’t want to inadvertently transfer any of them to the eventual new garden. (The backyard is free of it thus far, and I want to keep it that way.) I did pick up a couple of packets of seed this spring, though. After putting a few Heavenly Blue morning glory seeds at the base of an obelisk last year on a whim and ending up with the display shown below, I decided why not again this year? And thereby hangs a tale.

01 morning glory pillar

Because I couldn’t decide which color morning glory to try this time, I did something I rarely do which was to buy a packed of mixed colors. My past experience with mixed color seeds is that they usually aren’t, very; one color usually predominates, which kind of defeats the purpose. For instance the last packet of mixed nigella I tried ended up being 70% blue, 20% pink, and 10% white. If I’d wanted that much blue I’d have simply bought a packet of ‘Miss Jekyll’ instead (as usual.)

However, I chose Burpee’s morning glory mix and noticed not far away on the display a packet of mixed convolvulus. There is a small unmulched area at the top of the creeping phlox bed next to the patio, and within eyeshot of the morning glories’ obelisk, so on another whim I bought that too. It will be interesting, I thought, to compare the colors and patterns on the convolvulus flowers with those of its much larger cousins.

The seeds of both were duly planted in mid-April, and the convolvulus were in bud by mid June. The phlox being long over, I was looking forward to the multicolor display.

convolvulusWell, I suppose one can define blue, white and yellow on a single flower as “multicolor” because it’s more than one, but ‘mixed’ this seed packet certainly was not. In fact, it sure as heck looks exactly like Convolvulus ‘Blue Ensign’ which I grew one summer almost two decades ago in garden #2.

single convolvulusNothing against Blue Ensign which is very nice of course but when you’re expecting a “riot of color” as the advertisement writers love to describe seed mixtures, it’s a bit of a letdown. Oh well.

At least I still have the multicolored tower of morning glories to look forward to in about two months..… or do I???

  9 comments for “A Delicate Balance, and (Un)Truth in Advertising

  1. July 14, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    I love your state of detente. I wonder, for the wasps, do you have anyone that collects the nests for the venom? Every so often I will see an ad for such a thing up here. The collection is done by trained professionals (I am not kidding ) and I believe they use the insects to extract anti venin for those who are allergic to stings. If all else fails, it’s worth a Google search.

    Good luck!


    • July 15, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Wow, never heard of venom-collectors… those people are FAR braver than I’d ever be!

  2. July 14, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Haha, I love the blue though, I’ve always wanted to give that one a try but never got around to it, maybe it’s time!
    The regular mixed morning glories… I’ll have to pass on them. They’re a little too free on the reseeding.
    Did the former owners google “most invasive plants to add to your garden”? It sure looks that way. I’d be running through a lot of roundup 🙂

    • July 15, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Funny thing is, I did not get even ONE seedling from last year’s ‘green giant with Heavenly Blue’, can you believe it?! I assumed the area around the obelisk would be littered with them, but not even one emerged.

      LOL to the former owners’ philosophy! It’s a sad fact that 90% of the non-woodies on this 1/2 acre are the following: tawny daylily, tiger lily, houttonyia, variegated lamium, rudbeckia (probably Goldsturm), pachysandra, and vinca. The other 10% is creeping sedums, Phlox stolonifera, and one of the spreading grasses such as the blue lyme grass or the variegated calamagrostis.

      • July 17, 2016 at 10:05 am

        Haha, how did they miss planting lily of the valley and bishops weed ( aegopodium)

  3. July 15, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Lovely flowers!

  4. July 15, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I often wonder who will win these herbaceous wars, so thanks for doing the experiment for me! The word houttonyia makes me wince, I have dug so much up and I am sure there will be plenty more on my hit list, surely it will win!

  5. July 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Now that’s blue! Beautiful!

  6. August 25, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    It is very pretty, even if you didn’t get the ‘Mixed” look you wanted.

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