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Mother Nature’s Mash Up: Are Plants & Critters Creating their Own Melting Pot? And Accelerating Seasonal Garden Chores?

                                                

I had barely come to lament and accept that the peonies were all-too-soon past their prime blooming period. A truncated season. Peonies are pretty much my favorite flower so I am particularly bereft when they are gone…

If you’ve been feeling like you fell down the rabbit hole as you gaze with curiosity into the landscape and garden, you’re not imagining things. Plants and critters seem to have abandoned their clause that  “Time is of the essence.”  

Who gave them permission to take on a “time is fluid” attitude?? Let’s Blame Mother. Mother Nature!

But there we were, cuing up the roses, the evening primrose seeme to stay not even a fortnight;

same for the floriferous viburnums, 

and when the hydrangeas should have been a bloomin’, and the Montauk Daisies shouldn’t be flowering.  And yet, here they are… a two month lead time… 

And Ninebark, (Physocarpus), we hardly knew ye.   

The annuals hadn’t even hit their stride.

WTF?  What in god’s green acre is going on?  

To horticulturists, Spring is often referred to as “The Silly Season,” because there’s just so darn much work to do.  Pruning spring shrubs and cleaning away the spring bulbs’ “scragglies,” 

along with getting the edible seeds and/or plants in the ground, and planting the colorful, summer-blooming annuals.

 

I’ll rechristen it the “Crazy Season” because I’ve observed that plants and critters seem to have lost their calendar planner! 

Plants that shouldn’t be blooming till later in the season are, and the expected bloomers are like the Mad Hatter, twittering about how they are late for a very important date and poof, are suddenly gone. 

This isn’t just bad for us humans. After all, we rather adhere to the arcadian myth that flowers and their scents exist for our luxury.

In fact, the plants are attracting their pollinators and when things are ahem, askew, the birds and bees can’t contribute to the plant’s sex life. Err, reproduction.  

A Day Late and a Dahlia shy…  Ha. 

You get the idea. Next to position, timing is everything. The garden is/has been a very well-orchestrated synchronization of plants and pollinators. But things are indeed changing. Change is afoot.

On the even uglier side (to my way of thinking) because we had no snow nor any real cold this winter, the pathogens and insects that normally would be naturally killed by frost (a garden buzzkill!) didn’t occur; leaving the landscape ill prepared to fend off heartier predators.

For example, I’d never seen such scale on the tough-as-nails hollies.  Once the plant is compromised, then other predators move in. Aphids… You can watch for yellowing leaves and black, sooty ones. 

And the aphids on the laurels are a crying shame.  Here too, I “tough-loved” the pruning, cutting away the insides allowing for more air and light. And sprayed.

For the first time, a huge infestation of lace wings on an otherwise very vigorous Abelia Shrub. This was not some neglected shrub in a far corner of the yard but rather a healthy abelia near the house and living areas. But these lace wings made short shrift of the shrub.  I did a “tough love” prune, Bill sprayed, and it looks like we will survive this invasion.   

 

Wait for it ~ Watch for the lace wing’s rapid movement… 

And the Lantern Fly nymphs are so numerous now that a branch of most every plant looks like it’s been showered with black peppercorns.  

Spotted Lanternfly Biology and Lifecycle | CALS Cornell CALS image


What to do? Take a deep breath.  No, don’t. The Canadian fires have made the air quality too unhealthy to work outside.

Sigh.  

Nature is All About Change

Seriously, I suggest that Gardening and Horticulture will take more rigorous planning: 

  • Check the forecast for best times/days to be outdoors to tour the gardens making observations and when to work there;  

  • Changing up garden designs in anticipation of hotter and drier times,

  • Choosing plants wisely. Right plant/right place. Opt for Natives and water wise plants. Water is a precious resource. Many areas have water restrictions in place during severe droughts. Using potable water for lawns is irresponsible. 

  • Don’t be afraid to do a heavy pruning after a shrub blooms. A good haircut yields a healthier plant

  • Hire a licensed arborist to review and cut trees at least biannually (every two years). Plant trees in groups of at least three; a mix of evergreen and deciduous for a stronger, healthier windbreak.   

  • Weed more often ~ Be good to your plants ~ and to your neighbors. There are so many invasive and toxic weeds showing up in the garden beds due to irresponsible “mow, blow, & go” power, as well as storms that blow in non-native plants. 

Storms will continue to be more aggressive ~ heavier winds and bursts of rain and/or hail; flooding.

Recently, I saw the Crepe Myrtles infested with some kind of powdery mildew, in late May, when it was cool out… My research suggested it blew in on a  storm. 

I recently explained here on Garden Glamour how I changed out two garden spaces in order to accommodate the future.   

Change can be pretty, after all.

Tip:  If you don’t use a plant identification app on your smartphone, I suggest you get one. The investment is valuable to you and the appreciation the landscape provides to you and your home. I use Picture This.

Good landscape design adds approximately 15% or more to the resale value. 

There is the saying usually credited to the genius Albert Einstein, “That the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Let’s not continue to garden using methods that worked in a different world; a different time period of perhaps more than a century ago and advocated by those cultures that existed in different climates; usually by the wealthy.

I work very hard in our gardens and always had skin in the game for my garden design clients.

I recognized the telltale signs of a changing climate years ago and took some steps to prepare.  Today, I feel that the velocity of the situation is of a greater magnitude.

It does indeed seem that spring chores are bleeding into summer ones.

Let’s be smart.  Let’s manage our gardens and landscapes.  They will reward us as they always have…

Gardens will always be romantic and glamorous. 

 

2 Comments

  • Garden Glamour

    Thank you for your feedback. Yes indeed, gardens require a good amount of work from us ~ we are their stewards. But the rewards of gardening are sooo great. They give us food, fragrance, beauty ~ even the air we breathe. We love our gardens! And I'm sure your "little" garden rewards you as well. I do encourage readers to learn as much as they can from many resources ~ including me ~ about best practices and how to care for the plants ~ starting with the soil. Be observant and plan for a future of climate change…

  • Anonymous

    Not having a garden large enough to study all of your wonderful information, I’m somewhat glad. All that do have gardens, I’m sure are thankful for your smart information.

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"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art."
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 I adore plants. Plants are my muse ~ they are my paramour… I’m a garden artist; a nature lover, & horticulturist. I’m an author & writer. My passion for culture & beauty, along with my trait curiosity, brings you an authentic celebration of life. I’m a storyteller ~ weaving the artful gifts of horticulture, garden design, tablescape decor, floral design, cocktail culture, garden-to-glass recipes & their glamorous garnishes, homegrown edibles, food & drink; & cooking, to bring you my flair & what I’ve been told is an avid elan ~ as well as the stories from those who inspire me ~ to pursue an elegant, enduring, & joyful, entertaining lifestyle. It’s an honor & a privilege to do what you love.

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