Monday, November 8, 2010

The Good, the Sad, and the Ugly

 My garden is officially toast.  A killing frost last Thursday or Friday night spelled the end of even the toughest of blooms.

About the only thing that still looks good in the garden right now are the hydrangea blooms, like this one on the 'Limelight.'   Oh, if only I could age so gracefully!

It's hard to find anything photo-worthy in my garden right now, but a few days ago Nancy at "Leaping Greenly" (formerly "Soliloquy") posted a photo of her poor shriveled coleus and challenged other bloggers to post the ugliest thing in their garden.  Now that I can do!  Fall clean-up chores here have been put off while I have been busy doing other things, such as planting bulbs and doing some lasagna gardening to create a flowerbed, so there is no shortage of brown, shriveled plants here.

I guess I was too optimistic or maybe just not paying enough attention to the weather, assuming these geraniums would last another week so that I could pot them up and overwinter them as I did last year.  Last week's frost proved too much for them, though, and now it's too late to try to bring them inside.  But I wouldn't call this "ugly," would you?  No, I think they look rather sad instead.

The barely recognizable pineapple sage might qualify as ugly with its brown leaves, but I'd definitely call this sad as well.  This plant had barely begun to bloom when the deep freeze hit.  Last year I was so happy with this plant, a highlight of the Butterfly Garden in the fall when everything else was fading that I made sure to plant another one this spring.  I'm not sure why it bloomed so late this year, but it made me sad that it never got a chance to show off its bright red blooms.

The pots of plants may or may not get cleaned out before winter--I like to leave a few plants, like the purple fountain grass and the helichrysum in their containers because they actually look good covered in snow.  But the sweet potato vines like this one will definitely get pulled.  This is beginning to qualify as being ugly, don't you think?  But the pansies--now that's sad again; in fact, it's downright pathetic.  Pansies may like cool temperatures, but they don't like not being watered.  I deserve twenty lashes with that limp sweet potato vine for this sad state of affairs.

As I've matured as a gardener, I've begun to appreciate the beauty of dried seedheads and even the yellowing foliage of plants going dormant for the winter.  But there's nothing beautiful about these dried-up zinnias.  Now we're approaching ugly.  These did get yanked up, but only because I needed the space for planting spring bulbs.

Nor is there anything attractive about a sweet potato vine past its prime.  Another candidate for ugly.

But for true ugliness we have only to look in the vegetable garden, still waiting for someone to clean it up.  At first glance, this red pepper looks pretty good, but one touch, and it turns to mush.

But one look is all you need to know that these tomatoes are the ugliest thing in my garden.  It didn't take
last week's killing frost to do these in; the first light frost caught me by surprise, turning the tomatoes to sauce before I even had a chance to try to save a few.  Now that the days are getting shorter, I really had better get busy and get this fall clean-up done, or I'll be showing snow-covered vegetables soon!

What is the ugliest thing in your garden right now?


  1. Hi Rose, I cannot stop laughing, giving you lashes with a potato vine conjured up all sorts of images in my mind. I am still finding it hard to concentrate, too funny.

    I never think as anything, as ugly in a garden, messy maybe, but not ugly.

    We have had several harsh frosts, but my winter plants of course will be fine. One thing I did plan carefully was my winter garden. It would be just too expensive to plant up and then lose everything. I have put the toughest plants in place.....

    I always find it so sad when plants miss the season and do not bloom. The same thing happened with the milkweed, which I grew from the seeds you sent. I had strong healthy plants but no flowers.....sigh.

    BTW Mr Rabbit and family have the copse......the area is fenced off, so that Nella does not disturb birds, hedgehogs and other creatures that live there. Mr Rabbit knows he is safe there.......he does venture into the garden, and Nella has nearly caught him on several occasions. I have a feeling she will be his demise.

  2. Nice post Rose. The geraniums are sad, nice photo of it against the sidewalk. I kind of like the 'aged' veggie garden photos. Lots of interest in shapes and light.
    We don't have frost injury on anything except the basil. It is rather sad looking.

  3. It's just the cycle of plant life. Mother nature will feed this year's plants to the soil to bring you beautiful flowers next year with the nutrients. It's not fun cleaning up the carnage but the garden will continue.

  4. Rose, You are too funny! Maybe you'll get a snow fall soon that will cover everything up - that being said, aren't you happy that it's a temporary situation?

    We haven't had a hard frost yet and my pineapple sage is in full bloom (finally). Oh, I'd better move my citrus to the porch - thanks for the reminder!

  5. The tomatoes were the ugliest thing in our garden, but hubby yanked them last night. They needed to be yanked. They looked that bad. lol

    We've had a couple of frosts but no hard freeze yet, so the asters and roses are still blooming.

  6. No hard frost in my garden yet. The ugliest sight I know of is when people throw their trash out of their cars! Yikes....we pick up trash rather often.
    All the spent leaves and stems look like raw material to me for paper making....and the glory of the garden, compost. So with a bit of mad science all the ugly in your garden becomes black gold...
    Happy November.
    "Tis the season of gratitude.

  7. I have several plants that would qualify as ugly right now. We have had a hard frost and several cold, record cold, nights. There is quite a bit of mush in my garden. One thing I was surprised and delighted by was the fuschia that are in the window box. They rather like the cooler weather and with them being under the eave of the house they are still blooming. Who would have thought??

  8. What is lasagne gardening?

    I like the tatty plants - I think we are too obsessed with perfection

  9. A frost can sure turn everything to mush! Mush is messy~Not like seedheads which are quite lovely! gail

  10. Rose, such a clever post and has me chuckling. We have not had a frost as yet, but it can come anytime it wants. Most of my vegetables are history, thankfully, since I'm about worn out..

    That hydrangea is so lovely!

  11. Hi Rose, i like your title, bit fun! However, the photos are really sad and depressing esp considering the lots of emotions and labor put in it from the start. Maybe i am not placed in that kind of climate to be exempted from these emotions come autumn and winter time, as our plants grow continuously through the years. They suffer dieback sometimes in the dry season, but most recover when the rainy months come. Yes, things have natural balance or equilibrium. It is very difficult for us to garden because it is very hot and humid, so we were given plants continuously growing without much labor.

  12. My hostas are definitely the ugliest thing right now. I often try to cut back the plants that do not overwinter gracefully with nice seed heads and whatnot, but I didn't make it to the hostas yet. They qualify as both sad and ugly.

  13. Cheryl, I think, too, my garden looks more messy than ugly right now. A few more beautiful days like the one we had today, and I might actually get it all cleaned up before winter. I'm sorry your milkweed didn't flower; I know I was so disappointed with my pineapple sage.

    Janet, We've had several mornings with frost, but last week it got really cold, and that was it. Today we're back in the 70's!

    Sherlock, I should have lots of material for my compost pile once I get busy cleaning up--I do like the idea of the cycle of life in the garden.

    Amy, I always thought that was the best part of snow--it covers up any messes you've left behind outside!

    Mr. Lonely...uh, thanks for visiting.

    Sweetbay, even my Knockouts have quit blooming!

    Sherry, Yes, most of this will be going into my compost pile, ready to nourish the garden next year. Funny you should mention the trash--I picked up some cardboard that had blown off a truck into our yard. I was really mad that the driver didn't stop to pick it up, but then I realized it was perfect as the base for my new flowerbed:)

    Lisa, How neat that the fuschia is still blooming. I had an impatiens on the back porch which is really sheltered, yet it's completely withered now, too.

    Patient, I do like the dried seedheads and foliage, too; my garden is far from perfect, if there even is such a thing. Lasagna gardening is using layers of materials to cover an area rather than dig it up...I'm going to show an example on my next post, probably Thursday or Friday.

    Gail, I was mad at myself for not picking all the peppers earlier--not much you can do with mushy peppers!

    Di, I'm not surprised you're worn out with the harvest you had!

    Andrea, I was looking for a theme to tie this all together...really, I enjoy the change in seasons. The best part is that next spring we can start all over again!

    Rose, I don't even cut back my hostas. I'll pull the annuals and the veggies, but the rest will probably stay until spring.

  14. Love, love, love this A+ post, Rose, one if home would love to join in on. Please know you are not alone ... I have some bad cases of 'uglies' too, enjoying their last moments until I return!

  15. Only you could pull it off Rose! A post full of photos of dead plants :) So funny but sad too... So much hard work destroyed at a stroke. Jack Frost is a cruel character!

    I too was mystified by your reference to lasagna gardening, it conjured up the most bizarre images...I do have a very vivid imagination :)

    My garden has become quite neglected this year :( and I suspect will largely remain so now until the Spring. The ugliest thing in it though is the Ground Elder, even when it seems that I or Mr Jack Frost has removed every bit I just know it is waiting under the soil for the right moment to jump back out and torment me!

  16. There are no doubt a lot of gardens that have a few ugly spots now. I finally got mine cleaned up. It is always a sad time for me to see all of the flowers fading away and now all the fall leaves are gone too.But like you said there are some lovely textures and shapes left by some of the plants. Hydrangeas are wonderful.

  17. the vegetable garden is most definitely the ugliest thing in my yard :P i'll clean it up eventually haha. it really is so sad to watch everything die. especially once the first frost hits. but once spring arrives we'll be dancing with the new blooms :) do you have long winters where you are? ours last about 5 months.

  18. Spring, summer, winter, or fall I have sad AND ugly. But I don't want to show it! I prefer to squinch my eyes and pretend it's not there. LOL! This is the time of year when everything is either getting ready to slumber or finish it's life cycle. But if you look closely, you can see signs of life and the promise of Spring to come.

    I love lasagna gardening, and find it perfect for constructing new beds and rejuvenating existing ones. I have a big new bed planned for the new growing season starting with 120 Tulip bulbs. Do you think I can plant them without the squirrels finding them? Maybe if I hand out little squirrel blindfolds to all the critters, I can fool them. ;-)

  19. my moonflower vine is the absolute ugliest of all the ugly in my yard. Probably because it's all wrapped up around a post, sitting nice and high for me to notice. Tomorrow I really have to get rid of it. It's depressing. It had dozens and dozens of buds that never blossomed. I planted it too late I guess and only ever got 3 blooms!

  20. I can only sympathize as we had the same killing frost. I think the pineapple sage would have to win for saddest plant now-they don't age so gracefully at all!

  21. With that first picture up, I thought everything was going to be okay, maybe a little nipped but not chewed up! You're scaring me. I haven't made it home yet since the freezing temps a few days ago so I don't know what to expect. I would like a recipe for that lasagna garden you're creating.

  22. What a delightful post, Rose! Only you could make us laugh with a sad/ugly/mushy fall garden. Ours here in Canada are done - really done. We did have snow before Halloween, but that's melted now.

  23. If I didn't know better I would have thought I was looking at my own flower beds. hehe! Seriously, mine looked like this all summer due to our heat and no rain.

  24. Think that I am with you on the tomatoes Rose. The ugliest thing in my garden is a clematis x jouiniana 'Praecox', which disappears for the winter in a most disgraceful manner. Will have to try and post a photo of it on my blog soon complete with a government health warning :)

  25. I see more sad than ugly in the garden. However, I suspect if I'd smelled that pepper, ugly would apply!

  26. Rose girl I am giggling here .. the beauties that turned to mush when you tried to touch them .. peppers are very "touchy" veggies ? LOL
    I love Pineapple sage too .. the smell is remarkable .. but I never get them to bloom very much and if so it is so close to frost the bloom just doesn't make it .. but ... I still love it and will have it in my garden just so I can keep smelling it : )
    Yes .. as we mature .. we really do appreciate so much more than we did in our early stages .. something like life ?? wink wink

  27. My garden was toast two months ago. Now you need to start planning next years garden! I like the pictures of the mushy veggies.

  28. Frost took out our garden too, even the hydrangeas. Funny idea to have an ugly competition. Our tomatoes look equally bad.

  29. Awww so sad, but another spring will be here before you know it. Yep Limelight does age beautifully. :)

  30. Your geranium isn't ugly or sad....just exhausted.

    The red pepper photo is great.

    I must agree with you that the tomatoes win the ugly award.

    Fun post.


  31. Thanks, everyone, for the comments. I can see I'm not the only one with a brown, mushy garden. It's sad to see the summer's blooms end, but I am thinking of spring already.

  32. My feelings toward the squirrels! I have lots of things that fade gracefully, and I've cleared out the dead tender things already.


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