Friday, September 26, 2008

There's a Fungus Among Us

My hostas look horrible right now. I think I have found the culprit; anthracnose!

Apparently it's becoming a problem for formerly indescrutable hostas, attributable to the humid, rainless weather. I probably won't do anything about the ugliness other than clip off the leaves and rake them up, but I'm thinking my hosta nursery in the backyard may need some major TLC. It's overcrowded, there's no edging. It's an eyesore even without the anthracnose. I better add it to my "To Do List."


Monday, September 22, 2008

Shout Out to Swampscott!

I just wanted to thank everyone that has strolled by my yard and given me compliments on the flowers...this year was a real turning point for me in terms of figuring out how I want the garden to look and all the support has been gratifying. Maybe it's Swampscott, or just my little neighborhood, but I've met the most laid back and supportive people since starting to work on the yard. So thanks for your appreciation!

It's late September, but several of my plants are still chugging away, and I've included a few pix of my favorites.

Above is the Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) I started from seed this winter. There are a few more seedlings around the yard, but this plant was the only one that bloomed. I'm hoping the others make it through the Winter.

Would you believe this Boltonia (Snowbank) is actually growing in partial shade? Yup, totally awewsome. And finally, the Caryopteris (Caryopteris divaricata 'Snow Fairy' ) is blooming! Why so excited? It didn't bloom last year and I was pretty much giving up hope for this year, but then I noticed the most beautiful, delicate little blue-ish purple lovelies on my favorite shrub.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lessons from Hanna

Last night the remnants of Hanna blew in, dumping a few inches of (well-needed) rain. Upon inspection of the garden however, I learned a few things about big herbaceous perennials. For one thing, my sunflowers did not hold up well. The majority were either pummeled to awkward 90 degree angles or snapped entirely. My Boltonia didn't stand up to the rains well either (literally). They flopped over and needed staking to get them a bit more upright.

Not total tragedies, but I learned a lot. Next year, I will definitely cut back the Boltonia in June so that they are shorter and bushier. A few sources recommend doing so, but I wanted to see how they would look without any meddling. They are very top heavy and leggy, and succumbed to the rains, so I see the value in shortening them for sure now.

Taking a peek in the back-yard, I was happily surprised to find another showing of Clematis 'HF Young'. I bought this plant early in the Spring and it has done surprisingly well. It hasn't been a prolific bloomer, only 1 or 2 flowers at a time, but this is the third time this summer it has set blooms, so its turned into a nice repeater.


P.S. I leave you with a pic of my gardener's feet, post shower. I really need to wear boots.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Powdery Mildew - Aack!

Despite all the glowing reviews I find about Echinacea, they too can suffer from a multitude of diseases. My sis asked me to research why her glamorous orangey/red Echinacea had black leaves and some powdery gunk on the leaves. My peony is also suffering from a similiar malady.

So after a bit of research, I found out that the recent weather is the perfect condition for mildew. How can that be? You might hasn't rained in at least two weeks. It has been sunny and gorgeous. Ah, hah! There you have it! These are actually the perfect conditions. Powdery mildew likes hot and humid conditions, with little rain. Rain or wind would blow it off. Apparently the only cure is to dunk the plants in fungicides or just cut the whole plant down to the ground (be sure to dispose of the infected stems/leaves and wash off your cutters).

I opted to cut away the peony stalks. They won't bloom anyway and I hope will make it back next year. At least this is happening at the end of summer, rather than at the beginning!

Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Extension