Sunday, September 02, 2012

Summer Garden

Autumn Joy Sedum, a perfect poor soil succulent
This summer has been hard on our lawn and garden. We have poor, sandy soil that absorbs topsoil and compost causing it to sink and disappear from the surface. We had cooler, rainy summers for a few years in a row recently but last summer was hot and this summer was scorching for weeks on end. Our trees are stressed, several cedar shrubs are dead, and the perennials bloomed poorly. Hot summers, a big dog, a city watering ban, a scourge of earwigs, and time contraints require analysis of what works and what needs to be changed next year.

Squirrel leftovers
I planted a dozen tomato plants of various varieties. In spite of tender care, they did poorly. The neighbourhood squirrels ravaged whatever fruit was ripening. The patio tomatoes did better but the pesky rodents enjoyed them most of all. That is what I get for feeding critters in the backyard in the winter months.

Cascading Nasturtiums
Most of the patio pots with mixed annuals did well and provided colour that was lacking in the flower beds. The only plants that were eaten to skeletons by earwigs were the marigolds. I have not planted nasturtiums in years but bought six small plants in the spring. I did not know they were a cascading variety and that they thrive in poor conditions. There is only one plant in the pot in the picture above. Strangely though, none of the nasturtiums attracted aphids and none of the abundant flowers developed seed pods. It appears that some selective tampering happened when this variety was "created". This was my most promising food crop of the season even though we haven't added any flowers or leaves to our salads.

Many herbs grow well in poor soil. Basil, thyme, sage, tarragon, chives and cilantro grew well in sun. The cilantro bolted and flowered too quickly but basil is very forgiving when pinched back on a regular basis. A few basil leaves go a long way in flavouring a salad.

A late summer rain brought these to bloom although the Shasta Daisies failed earlier
Our lawn is the most expensive and time-consuming item we need to deal with. My husband is a perfectionist and works hard outside but there is nothing perfect about the grass after the drought, especially since herbicides and insecticides are prohibited in our area. As I ride around town I see  front yards gravelled or mulched over. It looks like a good idea except that we have a large corner lot to deal with and there is cost for materials. But maybe next year will be cool and wet again and we will forget the struggles of this season. I am happy I do not have to make a living from the land!


  1. Sounds like your weather was much the same as over here.I keep watering the potted plants but even that is not doing enough to provide the kind of colour I was hoping for.

  2. I enjoyed all these lovely flowers, and a very interesting post. Have a great week.

  3. Ruth--ooo, I spotted the big dog. I never knew sqquirrels would eat tomatoes. Huh.
    I love the nasturtiums--I hadn't thought of them for years. And I have never planted them--I will try to remember for next year. This year, all my impatiens died--a local news column said something about powdery mildew or some such problem.
    I am all for doing away with lawns--put wildflowers in its place, or clover everywhere.

  4. My nasturTiums are doing well and producing an abundance if seed! I eat the odd leaf in passing. Mine don't have aphids either but when i lived at the coast, the black aphids loved nasturtiums!

    Are summer (ans especially spring) was on the cooler side so plants didn't get a good head start.

  5. Same here Ruth. I didn't even attempt to put anything in the planters on the deck where there is full sun exposure all day long. I knew what it would take to keep anything alive. We've spent $$$ on our water bill this summer, as we'd had aeration and over seeding done in the fall to get the grass looking halfway decent again and husband was determined not to let it die. The Crepe Myrtles have thrived in the heat, but not much else. I am so ready for cool breezes.

  6. Wow! Those blooms are really vibrant! It really make my day. Nice post!storage box


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.