In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
June, 2003
Regional Report

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1049

Any wetter and we'll be floating!

Sunshine and Showers

You remember Mutiny on the Bounty, where the little ship's crew went after infamous Captain Bligh? Well, in my garden this week I am not sure if I am the crew ... or the captain.

The plants are taking over and it's Me against Them. The rain-driven growing frenzy launches me into spasms of activity on the drier days. I am not a control freak or neatnik, I am not worried about trimming edges. I just want to be able to meander along the pathways and see my feet, and stop worrying about smacking my head on anything overhead, especially nothing thorny.

Navigating the Jungle
So, I am trying to prune the old fashioned shrub roses before they grow further beyond my reach. The heretofore drought-stunted dawdlers suddenly surpassed their maximum predicted size to become towering thorny thugs ready to reach out and touch someone -- most likely me -- and do bodily harm. I am trying to stay on top of the weeds that are popping up through the allegedly suffocating layers of newspaper and mulch, and deadhead the chives before they spill seeds all over the place and spread like an onion-scented ground cover.

I am trying to decide about chopping down the canker-infested and doomed redbud tree. Do it now and shade the suddenly Godzilla-size hostas with greenhouse shade cloth, or transplant them, or just what are my options there? How much does a 6-foot-wide hosta weigh? Do I replace the half-drowned tomatoes, and where will I find more plants this late? And I should mark my calendar to divide and reset the bearded iris in six weeks. A tidy garden is all in the details -- if only I could stay focused.

There's Much to Celebrate
I wander across the swampy lawn. Mud oozes into the heels of my clogs; it's too wet to walk in the planting beds. Instead of itemizing tasks, I celebrate events. The tadpoles are plump. The robin's nest is rebuilt in a different rhododendron safely away from the splashing gutter, the woodchuck's burrow has moved uphill, the neighbor's cat is snoozing on the now lichen-encrusted cedar bench. I haven't seen the box turtle yet. I did see my first early hummingbird dipping greedily into a bugleweed flower. Several weeks later I saw another one, this time sipping daintily from a nepeta. The fluttery white cabbage butterflies like that, too.

And, of all things, in this year of torrents and mud and exponential growth, after repeated careful inspections and some exploratory digging, I think I have finally succeeded in exterminating that mutinous monster of an uncontrollable hops vine. That makes me so happy!


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