Saturday, August 27, 2011



Slowly but surely, I've turned my self-proclaimed "black thumb" into something close to a shade of green. Each year I learn a little more about gardening, and here I'll share with you some of the knowledge I've gained.

1) Some annuals are really "biennials".

Last years pansies and alyssum(s?) showed up for another patio season. This has not only taught me a little bit about those specific plants, but I've learned a little lesson in "just go with it" gardening. I didn't plan on these guys showing up, but it's not like I hired a landscape architect. If the plant can survive the desert-like blazing sun of my patio, it is more than welcome to hang out with us.

2) Not all unexpected garden guests are weeds.

Now, I'm not talking about neighbours or long-lost cousins showing up unannounced, I'm speaking strictly of the flora variety. Sometimes the unwillingness to pull weeds in a timely fashion, coupled with the inability to recognize plants unless they are in flower can yield a few extra blooms in the garden.

What's that purple thing in the nasturtiums?

A pansy - Surprise!

And who invited Iris? Surprise!

This is an iris, right?

I think of these plant pop-ups as a little reminder that flower don't exclusively appear in the tightly controlled environment of a nursery. Mother Nature knew what she was doing long before greenhouses and "Miracle Grow".

3) "Organic" gardening is hard work, or, "pests suck".

When faced with garden pests, you have two options: chemicals or elbow grease. Despite the fact I'm not growing food in my garden (I learned that lesson last year), I have a real aversion to using pesticides. For that reason, I learned a lot about slugs this year:

-How did I get garden slugs?
There were probably eggs in one of the plants I purchased.

- How did I discover I had slugs in my garden?
Dahlias are slug filet mignon. After a week or so of "what's eating my dahlias?" I finally asked google. Because slugs only come out a night, they are hard to discover unless you're really looking for them.

- How does one get rid of slugs?
Ugh! Dedication and determination. Without chemicals, you basically have to just pick them out of the garden and squish them. I tried beer traps with mediocre results. Waiting for the sun to go down and picking the little suckers worked best. I think oats helped a little too (they eat them and then the oats expand inside them and kill 'em - muah-ah-ah-ah!). Drunk on the power to eradicate garden infestation, I started to play god with #4...

4) Resurrection is possible.

Buying a few dahlias this year has apparently been quite educational. I'm not sure if "real" gardeners would classify dahlias as finicky plants, but they seem to be fussy babies to me. What's wrong, dahlia? You don't like being eaten by slugs in the scorching July sun? Suck it up, princess!

Princess Dahlia shortly after her rescue from the desert sun.

After their near death experience in my full-sun planter box, rather than throw them out, I re-planted the sorry-looking Dahlia stubs in pots and placed them in a slightly shadier corner. A few weeks later ...

Ta-da! Back from the dead!

5) Pay attention.

This is probably the single most important thing I've leaned about caring for plants. If you don't ignore them, they don't die. What a crazy concept! People that claim to be horrible with plants don't have some kind of recessive gene for plant-killing, they just aren't interested in gardening. If you don't look at your houseplants more than once a month they will probably die. If you simply cast your eyes upon that philodendron once a week, you may remember to water it and therefore, sustain it's life. It's not rocket science. Anyone can keep a plant alive, you just need to have an interest in doing so.

Thus concludes today's lesson. I think I'm still light years away from being a great gardener, but perhaps I'm on the right path?


Reckless Glue said...

for me it is just the relentless weeding....RELENTLESS. And everything gets overgrown so quickly that now it has become all about the transplanting as well. Gardening is so much more work than I have time for (and Nat is happy to let things shrivel up and die apparently so right about now I am so OVER having to water every day)I am kind of looking forward to everything being covered in snow soon.

Jenntly Juniper said...

what a fun post. Garden learning is a forever thing if you've got the interest, there's always something more to appreciate or do. I've been gardening for decades and still am getting surprised.

I think your iris is a snapdragon. If you pinch the back side where it is round you can snap the top and bottom together and apart, tease baby with a talking flower.

The Nutritionista said...

What you got there is a Snap Dragon.

Push the sides of it's little head and it talks!!

Julie in San Diego said...

The purple one is a petunia and the pink is a snapdragon. Very pretty "volunteers" in your garden