Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gallery of Failure

The June blossoms are cascading across garden blogs in a rainbow of colors. Gorgeous photos of lush foliage and romantic arbors are glittering through my internet browsing. I know you can shoot any garden carefully, edit well, and probably wind up with a montage somewhat able to convince the casual viewer that you reside within the pages of a gardening magazine. I don't begrudge these bloggers their brag books -- I love to see the healthy plants and flowers and to appreciate, for example, the way they have creatively planted a container.

I have been blue all week and don't have the heart to gloss over the many disasters brewing in my garden. I have decided to post my own photo gallery, but of the abject failures of June, the blights in my otherwise thriving little patch. Do I post these just to be grumpy? No. Perhaps a reader will have an idea for how to rescue the situation. Or perhaps my less-than-perfect outcome can serve as warning to others in gardens to come (Yeah, right! We gardeners never learn!).

  • The sweet pea and asparagus patch

I read in a garden book that one should grow sweet peas among asparagus plants - the flowers would wind their way up the spears and the whole effect would be quite romantic. Instead, I have an overgrown shaggy mess in the corner of my garden. Weeds are thriving, since everything is so snaggled together that any maintenance is near impossible.
  • The passion fruit vine

This plant seems to be the caviar of the garden for slugs and snails. I cannot keep the leaves from being shredded as soon as they emerge. This poor little seedling is the only one that has survived the onslaught -- it has been limping along for months. Now, many passiflora references attest to a "slow start" for transplanted seedlings, but this plant has literally been frozen in time since March, when I put it out under a cloche. I probably jumped the gun with the weather - but I was hell-bent on extending the growing season to see if I could get mature fruit.
  • The kiwi vine

Now, speaking of "frozen in time" this kiwi vine has done absolutely nothing since I planted it upon arrival from the Stark Brothers nursery. I followed planting directions to a T. Since the roots burn easily, I have been careful to not fertilize. Most references attest to the vine's vigor and the need to begin training the first year. Since it has less than a foot of sorry-looking growth and a few wimpy leaves, I have no idea what I am supposed to be training. Do I rip it out, or wait to see how it does next spring?
  • The toothache plant

The Spilanthes oleracea seedlings I nurtured all spring suffered mightily in the recent wet,nasty weather. Dave's Garden plantfiles reports no insect problems and "glossy" foliage, but this is a bedraggled plant that also seems to have had it's share of insect predators. I can only hope that the numbing effect of the leaves worked their magic on these pests.
  • The rose mallow
I wintersowed some rose mallow seeds and failed to do my research when transplanting the seedlings: mature height is 48"-60". I planted the seedlings in front of my peonies, and now have a silly front bed with tall, skinny plants in front of short, stout plants.


  1. Abbie, don't feel you are alone. We have all had our failures this year, you're just not seeing them. The rabbits did a lot of damage, eating many plants to the ground, some disappearing alltogether. Now something else has eaten big holes in the leaves of my Unique Hydrangea. Most of my green lettuces rotted because of the rain. I could go on and on but it would just be depressing.

    Now, it's storming again!


  2. Thanks, Eileen. I guess I should be grateful I don't have to deal with rabbits!

  3. put some sawdust down where the slugs like to eat- you can get it for free from a mill (if you live near one!)

  4. I should do the same. My front garden is such an embarrassment, and I'm realizing that I put the lilac in a really stupid place. If I zoom in close enough to individual plants, nobody has to know my shame :(

  5. I feel for you and your problem with passiflora. Although, as someone who can't get a single seed to germinate I'm jealous you at least got one that's in suspended animation.