Keeping It Real

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I share of lot of (what I think are) pretty pictures of my garden, both here on the blog and on Instagram. If that is all you ever saw of the garden, you might think I live in some kind of Eden, blessed by gentle rains and abundant sunshine. The reality, of course, is a bit harsher.

The reality is that every garden suffers through rough patches.

For example, here are what the peonies look like currently.  Some years they stay green and lush until frost, but this summer the heat and high humidity have made them dull and sad looking, a sharp contrast to their spring glory.

This years tomato crop is, in a word, horrible. Every gardener in this area that I’ve talked is saying the same thing – a late, cold spring followed by a hot, humid summer with occasional torrential downpours has been a recipe for disaster.  I’ve already pulled out two plants and it’s not looking good for the others. Fortunately, while there haven’t been many tomatoes, the ones that have managed to ripen have been worth the effort.

Bugs are the culprit here, specifically Japanese beetles, marring the leaves of this geranium. The Japanese beetles weren’t too bad though this year, and damage was minimal.

Sometimes it’s just the cycle of the seasons and, for the gardener, August is really the beginning of fall as many plants begin to go dormant. These bleeding hearts, so charming and enthusiastic in the early spring, now turn yellow and fade away, leaving an empty spot in the flower bed.

The poppies that literally stopped traffic are now downright ugly. The reality though is that if you want your annuals to reseed you have to let some of the plants ripen.

I actually think the seedheads are interesting and when the flower petals first drop and they’re still green they make very pretty accents in bouquets.

And here’s a case where it’s the gardeners fault. This poor aster didn’t get staked in the spring and now it’s flopped over in a heap. [Note to self: next year don’t forget to stake the asters!]

 It’s not all bad of course. I found a praying mantis a couple of days ago which means there are good bugs in the garden and the Black-eyed Susans  and tall garden phlox are blooming madly. Gardeners are eternal optimists – there’s always next year to try for that perfect garden!

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