|Salvia Azurea, also known as Pitcher Sage|
Every year I have some mystery plants, plants that I can't identify and wonder if they're a weed or something I will welcome in my garden .This year was no exception. I've already mentioned the sneezeweed that I initially had no memory of planting and the Salvia azurea that I almost pulled, thinking it was a weed.
|One mystery daylily identified as a passalong|
Then there were the daylily mysteries. I always try to record any new daylily purchases I make and place a marker next to each one when I plant them. But two of my tags disappeared over the winter or were buried deeply under the compost, and when lily season began, I found I had not the five new daylilies I remembered buying, but six! And then, to make me feel even more like I'd lost my mind, there was another new daylily that appeared in the butterfly garden! The latter was solved when a fellow gardening volunteer reminded me that she had given me a division of one of her daylilies last year. I probably planted it in the butterfly garden because I had simply run out of room everywhere else.
The six-not-five new hybrids were still a mystery until a week ago when I discovered my receipt from last summer while doing some cleaning. (Amazing what things you can find when you do a little cleaning.) It turns out I did buy six lilies--besides the five names I remembered, I also bought an unnamed hybrid--an experimental plant that the growers have decided not to continue growing. But there is still a little mystery--is the daylily above 'Susan Weber' or L09-021?
Or is this one L09-021 or 'Susan Weber'??
Another thing that has had me scratching my head this year is what happened to my clematis? I had only one clematis until last year, 'Nelly Moser,' which bloomed faithfully and profusely every May/June. But this year not a single bloom! Last year I planted a new clematis, 'Roguchi,' which I was very excited about because I love these bell-shaped purple blooms and it did very well in its first year. But again, not a sign of it this year!
|Clematis 'Roguchi' growing in the nursing home garden|
I haven't quite come up with a satisfactory resolution to either of these mysteries, but my hunch is that my poor little 'Roguchi' may have fallen victim to some over-zealous weeding on my part this spring. Or perhaps it was strangled by the Cardinal vine that grew up the same side of the trellis and into the coneflowers and the lilies and just about any place it could sneak in. And my 'Nelly Moser'--well, I'm not sure, but I may have pruned it too early and too vigorously in the spring. It's growing up its trellis (minus blooms), so I'm hoping it will recover and bloom again next year. As for poor 'Roguchi,' I'll be on the lookout for a replacement next spring.
|A few blooms earlier on the yellow Knockouts; the red ones are too puny to even photograph.|
I'm not taking any blame for two other puzzles, though. My 'Knockout' roses were an absolute failure this year, producing only a few measly blooms. I gave them a moderate pruning in the spring, but nothing different from previous years. Last year everyone's 'Knockouts' in the area looked terrible, which everyone attributed to the bad winter. But this past winter wasn't quite so bad--although we didn't have much snow cover--so I don't know why mine especially look so awful this year. I didn't think you could kill 'Knockouts,' but I'm beginning to think I'm a homicidal rose killer.
Another no-show this year were the Macrophylla Hydrangeas. Oh, they grew and grew with very healthy green foliage, but only one blossom appeared on three plants--only one all summer! After a couple of people told me their Macrophyllas were doing the same thing and asked for my advice, I did a little sleuthing. Improper pruning or lack of water or fertilizer could cause problems with blooming, but none of those were the problems here. A late winter cold snap that occurred just as the hydrangeas were setting blooms seems the most likely cause. If that is the case, then I don't have to feel guilty about doing something wrong, and I can only hope that blooms will return again next year.
If the weather was the culprit in my flower-less Macrophyllas, it had no effect on the Hydrangea Paniculatas, fortunately. 'Vanilla Strawberry' bloomed up a storm, and the 'Limelight' is becoming a flowering autumn tree.
|Ascelpias curassavica, Tropical milkweed, is still blooming in the garden. But it's not the best choice of milkweeds for Monarchs.|
|One of just a small patch of zinnias that grew this year.|
Do you remember the old folk song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" My last mystery concerns all the plants that never appeared this year. From the Turkish lilies to all the milkweed seed I planted last fall or late winter, I am confused and disappointed at many no-shows. Besides the milkweed seeds, which really disappointed me because I was hoping to attract more Monarchs to my garden, there were other seeds that didn't germinate. I always have good luck with zinnia and cosmos seeds, which are so easy to grow. But very few of them appeared this year. I suspect some of the seeds in my arbor bed were covered up with too much mulch when I had some helpers early in the season and forgot to mention where the seeds were planted.
But that doesn't explain the lack of flowers in my roadside garden, where I also planted some zinnias and cosmos. Only one little cosmos plant survived to bloom. Correct that--I notice yesterday I have a second plant blooming! I could blame Mr. P and his lawnmower, but I don't think he's a suspect. In fact, there were several mysterious goings-on in this roadside garden all season, starting with some of the new tulips that never appeared.
|Pot with hot pink annuals peeking out to the left of photo.|
Probably the most puzzling incident was the case of the empty pot. In May I planted some petunias and 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia in a pot lying on its side at the front of the garden. A few weeks later, the pot was empty! Not a dried-up stem was in sight--everything had disappeared. When summer annuals went on clearance in mid-June, I tried again and filled the pot with other petunias and bright annuals. A week or two later, when I went to water the pot again, the same thing--not a plant in sight!
|A fall mum now planted in the pot next to the sedum--I dare a thief to make off with this one!|
Could it be fairies who stole my plants to decorate their fairy homes? Or is there some marauding varmint that likes tasty annuals and is digging them out for dinner? There are no clues and thus no suspects, so the mystery of the disappearing roadside plants will remain unsolved for now. I could assign the investigation to Capt. Sophie, but with this garden's proximity to the busy road, it's out of her jurisdiction.
From both the mysteries that were solved and from the ones that remain open investigations, I have learned a few lessons this summer:
- I need to be more diligent about recording all new plantings in my garden journal.
- I need to find a better, more permanent type of plant label, one whose printing won't disappear over the winter and one that can't be pulled out by dogs looking for toys.
- I need to follow proper pruning instructions--when in doubt, do some research first!
But most of all, I've learned once again that gardening can be unpredictable, and that a little mystery just adds some spice to it--gardening is never boring!
I am very late, but I'm joining in with Beth's quarterly Lessons Learned in the Garden posted at the end of each season.