Then, alas, problems arise. There is too much rain and mildew attacks everything or not enough rain and things wilt. Or diseases are showing up and it is all discouraging. When you step out on the lawn, it feels spongy and you realize you are being attacked by moles. Some problems can’t always be solved but some can.
For instance, moles are looking for grub worms so if you get rid of the grubs, the moles usually disappear. Milky Spore is one thing you can use to kill grubs and there is a new one on the market you should check out. Little critters called voles also use the mole runs and, unlike moles, they will eat bulbs. I have lost many tulip bulbs from voles but they won’t eat daffodil bulbs. They must have a terrible taste.
You can help plants with mildew by using a spray for fungicide. You can also remove and destroy any leaves that have mildew. Also sometimes shrubs are planted too close together as well as perennials and that causes mildew if the air can’t circulate.
Another problem that you may have in planting potted shrubs and large perennials is that the root ball may be dry though you have watered the hole to plant them in. If you have a shrub that just doesn’t thrive after two years or so, pull the mulch back and you may find that the plastic covering in the foundation plantings was put against the stem so that no water could get through to the plant.
One problem that tomato plants may present is that the plant will drop blossoms when the nights are cool or extremely hot in early spring. To prevent this crisis, spray the clusters of blooms with Blossom Set. To keep your tomato plants bearing longer, give them a dose of Epsom Salts every two or three weeks. A tablespoon will do. Every time I suggest this, I remember what Epsom Salts tasted like when I was a child. It was supposed to cure everything.
While you are weeding and working around shrubs, watch for poison ivy which is leafed out by now. There is a spray just for poison ivy or better yet, find a friend who is not sensitive to it and ask them to pull the vines for you. If you find that you have handled that dreaded stuff, bathe at once. Also, do not put it on your compost pile or burn it. One summer of fighting a case of poison ivy will make these precautions more important to you.
Ma and I were not sensitive to poison ivy so we went up and down the fences looking for the plants so we could dispose of them because my mother was so allergic to it.
One spring, a few years ago, I put down fresh mulch and poison ivy sprouted all over the flower bed. So you never know where you will find it or where it comes from.
I have had calls recently from readers who wondered why their tulips or iris didn’t bloom this year and I finally found the reason from another reader. Mine didn’t bloom either but now I am glad to know why. It is because an unseasonably warm spell much too early caused the tiny flower buds, which weren’t noticeable, to be “nipped in the bud” by a following cold spell. The temperature got down below freezing for a few times and that did them in. This didn’t happen to all tulips and iris because not all of them were at the wrong stage.
When I see a new variety of an old favorite flower, I think of Ma and wonder what she would say about it. A friend brought me flowers last week and one was a big leaf hydrangea which was a deep burgundy. Its bloom is as large as the blue ones we are all familiar with and it is gorgeous. Each year day lilies have improved until I hardly know them as day lilies.
I am amazed at the colors and variegated kinds of iris. And it goes on and on. When Ma was a very old lady and visited me, she walked through my yard and could hardly believe the rose bed. She had only had the old fashioned roses and was so excited at the hybrid tea roses. Now, after all these years, the hybrid tea roses are so improved that she really would be amazed. And what would she think of the Knockout Rose? She would promptly figure out how to get startings of them.
Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632.