Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, wrote Noel Coward back in 1931. I started in the garden at 5:30 this morning as the sun came up and was driven into the shade by 8:00 am. Was it only two days ago that we were complaining about the cool weather? The weather bug on the corner of my computer screen tells me it is only 33 C outside but factor in the high humidity and it feels much hotter and being neither a mad dog nor an Englishman, I have wisely retreated to a cool room to write. There is a granddaughter that I have never met and despite living in England, she has no desire to go out in the midday sun nor even to experience the heat of a Canadian summer. She arrives here tomorrow to begin her first gardening lessons. She is very advanced for her 9 months and will want to know all about Grandpa’s garden. She will not want to sleep in the hot upstairs spare bedroom. Clever Grandpa installed an air conditioner in that room yesterday so that little Rosie (how can she not be a gardener with that name!) would be comfortable. It is entirely coincidental that the newly cooled room also happens to serve as my office; where I am now sitting, to escape the oppressive heat in the garden.
Many of my Tuberous Begonias are starting to perform beautifully. The red one I showed you in the last edition now has four huge flowers on it and its ability to stay upright in its pot, defies gravity. The very expensive new one is producing nice leaves but so far has not done anything to justify its inflated price. I will be patient; it was a gift. The two or three trailing ones can now be identified; it would be a lot easier if I was able to keep track of, who was who, when I stored them for the winter and I did try to. This morning I stood in the shade and transplanted a couple of them into the hanging baskets, that will allow them to show off their trailing nature. I’m always fascinated at the paucity of roots these rather large rapidly growing plants, seem to have.
Last edition I asked you whether to nurture or compost a wayward Sunflower and most of you who wrote back suggested a third alternative. Transplant it to a more suitable location. So far I have done nothing and it is still thriving. If a weed is defined as a plant growing where you don’t want it, then what do we call a plant that is a common weed that has planted itself in a location that has made it a rather attractive addition to the garden. Just around the corner of the house, down the passage way to the service area a Mullein has planted itself and because of the very poor gravelly soil there, it is thriving and making a rather striking statuesque guardian of that path. It will stay with me as long as it continues to perform so well.
I spent a considerable period of time being a carpenter this spring as we built trellises around the back patio and then launched into the ten large trellis that replaced the cedar hedge. Deciding to switch trades I turned to plumbing. I have seem some wonderful garden structures made from copper pipe and decided to try my hand at that art form. A tall, graceful, arching trumpet shape on which my Morning Glories could share space with some Pole Beans was the vision I started out with. It was going to be a feature in the front garden to replace the Fastigiate Oak that mysteriously died. As it was approaching completion and my satisfaction level was declining, the Assistant Gardener came by and allowed as how, she wasn’t supposed to criticize unfinished work but “I wasn’t planning to put that out front was I?” It is quietly learning to support some Morning Glories, the Pole Beans have been seeded, somewhere in the back corner of the garden. I have taken to sitting in the shade and contemplating the design flaws that may have entered into the process. It is certainly capable of attracting attention and may be a positive delight when completely covered with vegetation.
While working in the shade this morning the post man came by with a large box. To my great delight it was another sample of the best container I have ever used The Earth Box. The Eggplant that I planted in my existing Earth Box, this year, are healthy, dark green and four times the size of any that I planted directly in the garden or into other containers. The constant supply of, the optimum quantity of water and fertilizer, that this self watering container supplies, produces amazing results. I understand why some people do their entire garden with a quantity of these planters. Now the decision is, what to plant in it, in the first week of July. I was just contemplating seeding the fall crop of the various Cruciferae. Among the Broccoli, Cabbage and Kohl Rabi there is a package of Cheddar Cauliflower. It is a regular looking Cauliflower, that produces much better in the autumn and it is a rich cheddar orange colour. On your dinner plate it looks like it already has cheese sauce on it. It, unfortunately, does not have a Cheddar flavour but I’m sure the plant breeders are working on that. I think I will put a half dozen of them in the new Earth Box and see how they perform.
My constant battle with the Red Lily Bug is now paying huge dividends. The Lilies are in full bloom and some of the new Hybrid varieties are simply stunning. This Royal Sunset is about a metre tall and was a single bulb three seasons ago.
Breakfast is much better these mornings. As the heat drives me in from the garden I stop here and add a layer or two onto my cereal. A bit of cream, the morning newspaper and a chair on the deck in the shade. Does it get much better?
After years of nurturing a package of Filipendula rubra seeds into a mature plant, I finally have a wonderful show. It is abut 1.5 m high and the frothy pink panicles of flowers are a delight to behold. They do require a bit of room. Now that it is blooming, I finally did a little research to discover it likes cool moist soils and possibly a touch of shade. Well, that pretty much describes the exact opposite of where I’m trying to grow it. Will have to consider moving it next spring but it looks really good where it is.
Keeping up to date on gardening activities can be followed on a more frequent basis by checking the front page of my web site, gardening-enjoyed.com. It changes every 2 or 3 days to show you what I am up to. That change only takes a few minutes, while producing Dallying is a much larger effort.
My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.
Bruce asks? Thanks for the earthbox tip - I was relieved to confirm they are not made of PVC from their website. Off hand can you recommend Toronto area suppliers? I am also particularly interested in indoor growing, which I gather is your speciality, and am all ears if you have any suggestions on learning more!
Ken Answers! I would check the Earth Box web site to see if they list any retail outlets. I know that they sell directly from their site. Hopefully the indoor gardening section of gardening-enjoyed.com will expand greatly this winter. I will be doing a two part indoor gardening seminar at the Toronto Botanical Garden this coming February.
Dee Asks? I love your cucumber obelisk. Going to get my husband to make me one with the left over cedar from our fence. What a great spacesaver. Do you know of any natural solutions to deter squirrels? I've tried sprinkling cayenne pepper around but they seem to be unaffected by it.
Ken Answers! Squirrel problems seem to defy resolution. I have tried many approaches and some of them help a bit but a hungry squirrel is a very determined beast. My best solution was when I had a large dog that spent most of its time in the back yard but she came in at night and occasionally did a bit of digging of her own.
Robin Asks? Do you or any of your readers have organic suggestions for Rose Chafers on a very large bed of Rosa Rugosa? (Never happened before) Besides the hose, soap spray, hand-picking.
Bt???? Btk???? Any other suggestions? Thanks - great read as usual!
Ken Answers I have no experience with these little invaders and you have already mentioned all of the things that I would try. Anybody else out there with a good idea?
June Asks? We have a mature (9 years) Burning Bush that leafed out as usual and looked fine.
Now the leaves are withering and dying and I can't see any reason for it.
Can you help?
Ken Answers! No! That’s the short answer. There are so many factors that could contribute that it would be very difficult to over advice without seeing and knowing a lot more about the plant. Rabbits ate the bark over the winter. Something that is toxic has saturated the soil. The list goes on. Sorry.
Sherry Ask? I do have a question regarding swiss chard that survived last winter but is mostly going to seed despite deadheading it inconsistently. Is Swiss Chard a bi annual and will the seeds survive over the winter if left to their own devices?
Ken Answers! Yes Swiss Chard is a biennial and all it wants to do in its second year is to produce seed. Nothing you do will deter it. The seed might survive over the winter if the plants did. Depends on your location and next winter’s weather. You can always collect some of the seed and keep it indoors until next spring.
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