Monday, November 25, 2002

And so It Ends: This Week's Garden Report, Nov 2002

Things are starting to wind down in the garden. The Mums are putting on a
show that was hardly expected early in the season. The late spring freeze set
them way back at first but they really fought back with a vengeance.
The Iraqi squirrels seem to be in full retreat after their hideouts were cut
down. Lightning, my dog, takes credit but I think the squirrels knew we were on to
them and just moved their base of operations to Rita’s yard. We may have to
plan an invasion. Replacement trees have been installed to replace the recent
losses. Ma popped for a big Blaze Maple out front. I picked up a Bald Cypress
and a River Birch for out back.
The fall colors this year are spectacular. The burning bushes are just
blazing away. The red maple is ridiculously red. Even the Bald Cypress has
turned bright yellow. In fact trees throughout the neighborhood are doing it
right this year. Last year was a real bust; the trees just turned brown and
went dormant. Last fall was a bummer in a lot of ways.
The fall cleanup is going well, all the slacker annuals have been removed,
the whole bunch of ’em were a waste of money. The garden centers have been
scoured for deals and many new players have been recruited. Maybe next year I
won’t even need any annuals.
It’s gitten’ ta be time to pass out awards for this year. The comeback
player of the year has got to be the Purple Asters. I put them down into the
minors 2 years ago, last year I don’t even remember seeing them. They seem to
have been inspired by the Mums this year and are putting on quite a show out
Most valuable Plant without a doubt is the Shasta daisy. It isn’t really
one daisy; there’s a couple hundred now, but they all came from one plant.
This plants ability to bloom just when you need flowers the most in mid to
late summer is a lifesaver. There are too many plants that bloom in spring or
fall but slack -off in the dog days of summer. When it’s hotter than hell
out, the mosquitoes are biting and everything else in the garden is wilting
and drying up, when you really need some eye candy, the Shasta come through
year after year. No maintenance, they just grow like weeds and bloom from
early August till late Sept. I have never paid this plant the respect it is
Rookie of the year goes to the Japanese ferns. Although the fern garden has
done well year in, year out there has not been much excitement in that corner
for awhile. The Japanese fern adds a little contrast and appears to be
getting along well with the other players
One last bit of good news is the birds are back. Things were looking real
good for the bird population in the garden at the start of the season. The
birdhouses were turning into bird factories. Some of them horny little devils
raised 2 or 3 families before the West Nile came around. By mid-July it was
like something out of a Rachael Carson book out there. The crows and jays
disappeared first, not long after all the sparrows, starlings, finches and
just about everything else were gone. I realize that they are just migrating
through now but maybe they will find the accommodations to their liking and
come back next spring.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Iraqi Squirrel Infiltration: This Week's Garden Report, Oct 2002

The garden was in turmoil all week after it was discovered that three
previously healthy forsythia bushes had suddenly died. Foul play is
suspected. Lightning, my dog, of course blames the squirrels. I suspect the Iraqis.
There is the possibility that we could both be right and we’re dealing with
Iraqi squirrels. Probably planted here by Saddam himself. My guess is at some
pre-set time they will chew through the electrical and phone lines running
through our back yard causing major problems in McHenry county's ability to
help your president if he should go to war with Iraq. They were probably
chewing through the forsythia just to keep their teeth in shape. I sent my
little fuzzy friend out to haul one in for questioning and he actually caught
one. Unfortunately he decided to rough up the suspect before bringing him in
and Velma (my aunt) hollered at him and he let the suspect go. I just now have started
wondering if maybe Velma might be in cahoots with the Iraqis? I’ll have
Lightning talk to her tomorrow.
Luckily, management was ready for just this sort of emergency. There were
three very good replacement forsythias, sitting in the Rita reserve (Rita is my neighbor), just
waiting for their chance to break into the lineup. They’ve been successfully
installed and next year no one will be able to see any difference. Saddam has
been foiled again.
In an attempt to deprive the Iraqi squirrels of cover, three major trees
have been cut down in the garden. The Rita Reserve, Wayne's (neighbor behind the house) World and Bill &
Harriet’s (neighbors two doors down) yard also had major de-forestation programs enacted. Now to get
around the little furry tailed terrorists have to expose themselves on the
ground. My little fuzzy security officer claims it’s only a matter of time
now before he has them all under control. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Summer of Surprise: This Week's Garden Report, Sep 2002

Since this is the first garden report of the season, this weeks garden
report is actually this summer's garden report.
The season started out with a lot of promise. Coming off a fair season last
year, a lot of good players were already in position at the start of the
year. Last falls recruiting drive at the local garden centers picked up a lot
of promising new players at bargain prices. October is the time to go garden
I started the season off with a surprise weeding that caught the whole
garden by off guard. One of the best weedings I've ever done. I haven't had
to do more than a little touch up here or there since. At the same time I got
rid of a lot of plants that just weren't pulling their weight out there. No
show you get the Hoe! Many plants were sent down to the minors (Rita's yard)
where I will give them time to develop.
A late freeze in May reeked havoc with the ferns. They were coming up better
than ever and the freeze stunted the shit out of 'em. It also sent me
scurrying over to Flowerwood for emergency replacement annuals.
There was some tragedy in the Garden this year. After several mediocre
seasons I threatened to send the Rhododendron down the minors If it had
another bad year. Well, it had a bad year and did not even wait for me to
take action, apparently it committed suicide. That plant did have some
spectacular years early on, but even in the best of times it's season was
over by mid June, just like the Cubs.
Last years Most Valuable Plant, the Mutant Clematis, did absolutely nothing
this year, a couple of blooms in July and that's it. That overfertalized
primadona better watch out because I've got my eye on some fall blooming
Clematis over at Flowerwood, It just might wake up in Rita's yard next
spring. That'll learn 'im.
The new bushes I picked up last fall have been doing good, except they seem
to be the favorite food of this years newest pest, Japanese beetles. Those
voracious little slant eyed devils let the bushes grow for a couple a weeks
and then stop by and chew the shit out of 'em. They've learned to do this on
a regular cycle. I think they're still pissed off about Hiroshima.
The Day Lilies and the Asian Lilies got together and bloomed at the same
time this year. They put on quiet a show but only for about a week. They
should have gone from mid June well into July. I suspect the bunch of
crybabies will use the drought as an excuse.
One of the highlights this year has been the Shasta daisies. Started
blooming in early August and are still going strong as I write. Definitely a
strong candidate for Most Valuable Plant this season. Another contender is
the Japanese ferns I picked up last fall. They look nice, grow like weeds and
were not damaged by the late May freeze we had. Definitely a candidate for
MVP or maybe rookie of the year.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

And So it Begins: This Week's Garden Report, Apr 2002

This weeks garden report.

The garden is starting the season on a bad note. Apparently the daffodils
and Jonquils were showing a little cowardice about blooming this year, they
had buds on them for about three weeks but would not bloom because of the
late cold. I finally went out there and thumbed thru my Holland bulb catalog
right in front of them. I then took out my weed wacker and started to clean
and oil it in front of the filthy cowards. I put on a quick demonstration
with a few weeds and explained to every flower in the garden that's what's
going to happen to any non-performers this year. They got the hint! The
daffodils, Jonquils, Forsythias, Heather, Myrtle and a few plants I can't
even identify were blooming like crazy the next morning! Even the maple tree
started to flower! I realize this may sound a little harsh, but I feel I must
maintain discipline out there right from the start or risk another mediocre