Late summer in the garden

Gardening at this time of year consists mostly of making sure the plants are watered, the weeds are pulled, and sitting back and enjoying. Some of my clematis are in bloom again, and the Brother Cadfael roses growing over the arbour in the back yard are doing much better than they were earlier in the season, when we had a heat wave. The poor things would get about half open, and then give up and shrivel, without dropping any petals. Mushy balled-up tissues is what they looked like. But that was back in July. Now they are beautiful, and getting very high on canes that are reaching 8 feet.

I planted pennyroyal between the slates on the back walkway this year. I tried doing it last year, too, but it all died. It may have been our unusually hard winter, which, once it was over, returned, double-shocking plants that had begun to grow, but the pennyroyal all died. So, never heeding a lesson, I bought more this spring, and replanted it with high hopes. Unlike last year, where it stayed close to the ground, it has grown vertically, to a height of about 4 inches, and has small purple flowerets. It smells wonderful when walked on, releasing the most wonderful minty smells. I’ll have to see in the spring if it survives, or if I need to switch to hardier plants, like some of the creeping thymes. I’ve got some lovely moss growing between the stones now, so if that continues, the combination of plantings and moss will look quite attractive.

Another purchase this year was some tuberose bulbs. Planted around May 20th, moved outside in June, two of the plants got fairly munched by either squirrels or raccoons. One survived intact, and now has a flower stalk forming. It’s about 4 feet high. I’m looking forward to seeing (and smelling) it.

One task I must do within the next week is order spring bulbs so I can get them in the ground next month. I have left it, in the past, until late November or early December before I’ve planted, but that really doesn’t give the bulbs a chance to develop any roots before frost hits hard. There are some types of bulbs that are just not going to get planted in my yard, however: no crocuses, even though I love them. Why? Because the darn squirrels love them, too! As fast as the flowers open, the squirrels come, spot them, think to themselves “ooooh, look! a crocus! I think I like the taste of crocus flowers!” and then they bite the flower head off, change their minds, and spit them out. Carnage, total carnage.

They do the same with a tulip flower or two, but usually don’t go after them with the same fervour as crocus.

Today I’m off to Edward’s Gardens (The Toronto Botanical Gardens, it’s called now). I’ve got an interview to become a master-gardener-in-training, which would then entail 3 courses from the University of Guelph. Wish me luck!

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