Sometimes gardening can be a bit depressing. Things that you grew from seed or nurtured from a cutting, one day they just die on you. No note, no goodbye, one day they are there then they are gone. It’s true it’s always worse for those of us left behind. We are left wondering why? was it something I did or said; or didn’t do or say. Anyway the upshot of the depressing start to this post is that I have lost two of my favourite plants a Rose and Plumbago. I will try to cheer up, but this could end up reading like the most depressing book in history: Thomas Hardy “Jude the Obscure”
2nd October. Things I have been doing lately
🧟♂️ Dealing with dead plants. Sometimes death may not mean death (reference Jesus Christ) and there can be a way back. Anyway I went out one morning lately and found two dead plants. A lovely large Plumbago that I had grown from a cutting had suddenly turned brown literally over night. Normally I would suspect Cruella (my wife) had poisoned it or had been using it in spells, but, she swears she is innocent. This particular plant is part of an extensive hedge to the front of our house that also has a few more Plumbago but none of the others were affected.
Now Plumbago is very hardy and it takes a lot to kill it off. My first suspect was Whitefly, which can suck all the sap out of the leaves and debilitate the whole plant to the point of killing it. But I would have seen this happening. My next suspicion was that the irrigation under the plant had malfunctioned and delivered too much water that would eventually drown the roots. But I checked round the roots and it was not unduly wet. Nevertheless action needed to be taken.
When faced with this type of situation you have to be bold if there is any chance of saving the plant. Some plants such as Jasmine, the answer is to cut them right down to the ground. But this would not work with Plumbago, so I have cut it down to about two foot and hope that it may shoot from there, or suckers may come true from the root. I will let you know what happens.
The first photo below shows the Plumbago in its distressed state (if it was a horse it would have been shot). The second photo shows the Plumbago cut back and in intensive care. I have fed it some Iron to assist the roots to take up nourishment (in liquid form of course I’m not an idiot).
The Rose that appears to have died is Rosa Blythe Spirit, this is one of my favourite Roses which is a prolific flowerer and sometimes in the height of Summer needs to be deadheaded twice a day. Anyway, just like the Plumbago it went brown more or less overnight. Again like the Plumbago, the other Blythe Spirits in the same row did not die back. I have checked for all the usual suspects and I even sprayed for “Rust” in case it was an extreme case.
The photo below shows the poor Rose in its distressed state. Since I took this photo all the leaves have fallen off. I plan to collect up all the fallen leaves from under the plant in case they are harbouring a pathogen. I will then do a drastic prune and see if I can bring it back. But I fear this one may be gone and it will have to come out. I may then purchase another Rose to fill the gap or, I think I will try and take a cutting from one of the other Blythe Spirits.
🗡 Taking off Yucca flower spikes. By now most of your Yuccas will have flowered, and I hope you took the opportunity to enjoy the flower spikes. They have been fantastic this year because of the drought. If your flower spikes are too high because your Yucca has become too large, then it is time to consider chopping it back (but that’s for another day). You need to cut the dead flower spikes off now, as they will only go on to produce seed that you do not want, besides dead dried Yucca flower spikes are not a thing of beauty. Using long handled shears cut at the very base of the flower spike trying not to cut too many green fronds. If you need to get close to The plant then make sure you wear protective glasses as Yucca leaves are notoriously spikey and will easily damage your eyes.
The photo below shows one of my large Yuccas that I cut back a few years ago to create a more rounded shape. You can see that it has flowered profusely this year and therefore there are lots of dead flower spikes. Put the dead flower spikes on your compost heap.
👻 Scarifying the lawn. If you have a lawn now is the time to begin scarifying. Just cutting a lawn is not enough because a thick thatch of cut grass builds up at the roots and stifles new growth. Scarifying at least once a year will remove the thatch and encourage new growth. Now if you have a small lawn you can do this by hand using a lawn rake. It’s tiring but quite fulfilling as you can rake up lots of moss type grass. If you were in England this could be used as lining for hanging baskets; but as we’re not put it in the compost heap but make sure you layer it in with other things.
I have just bought an electric scarifier and aereater that takes all the back breaking work out of scarifying. However, it gets a frightening amount of thatch out of the lawn and leaves it quite bare; hopefully it will recover. The photo below shows my new scarifier sitting on our biggest lawn at the end of a hard days scarifying. Note the wheel barrow full of thatch, this was one of 9 barrow full I got from this lawn alone.
☠️ Dealing with Cruella’s Creatures. Normally I put up with Cruella’s creatures; she has the cat, an owl a frog/prince and both dogs can be co-opted. The cat is the only true “familiar”, that is until the other night at dinner she suddenly informed me she had taken on something new. Just at that moment I looked down at her wine glass and there it was the “Wine Mantis” when you run out of wine it prays for more. Check the photo below, I have asked her if I can have a “beer bee”.