In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
June, 2011
Regional Report

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This aquilegia in the shady perennial bed responded well to a clandestine application of liquid fish.

Where is Summer?

Rain, rain, and more rain. Will it never end? This damp cool weather is not helping the nursery industry any more than it's helping us gardeners. Fungus disease and mildew are running rampant on the roses and the weeds think they are in heaven. Just when I get one bed under control, the weeds pop up all over the place the next one. It's a losing battle!

Warm Season Annuals
Even though it has been too cool to put warm season plants in the ground, Mrs. Henry has gone ahead and planted the summer vegetable bed. Squash, tomatoes, and a few cucumbers have been carefully planted to feed the resident starving rabbit population. I feel like Elmer Fudd, frustrated by the "wascally wabbits," shotgun cocked and loaded as the plants disappear one after another. The rabbits are voracious and will eat anything that goes into the lower bed. I planted two glorious Wave petunias from gallon cans recently. I wanted quick coverage and brilliant color. However, when I came back a few days later they had been eaten all the way to the ground! Who knew that petunias were so tasty...

Roses
The roses are putting on a fantastic display right now and, luckily, the rabbits don't seem to care for them. The deer are another thing though. Each week one rose has been targeted and shorn of foliage and buds. It's not the same plant every week, so perhaps deer like variety in their diet. Thank goodness the garden is large and I don't take these things personally.

Keeping the roses deadheaded, trying to stay ahead of the weeds, fighting the rabbits, and fertilizing the perennials is keeping me busy right now. I like to fertilize with liquid fish in a hose-end sprayer, but it's so smelly that Mr. and Mrs. Henry give me the "stink eye" whenever I apply it. Happily they were both out of town for a couple of weeks, which opened a window of opportunity. Che, the golden retriever, loves the smell of liquid fish. At least I have one fan on my side.

Containers
I have replanted the containers in front of the house for the summer. The snapdragons and sweet peas were winding down so I emptied the big pots of faded annuals and tired soil. I planted in fresh new potting soil with a primary color theme this time around -- red Lobelia cardinallis, celosia, fibrous begonias, yellow marigolds, Million Bells petunias, and of course, deep blue lobelia. I'm searching for delphinium in cell packs to complete the display.
The containers on the deck are coming along nicely. The lilies are beginning to set buds and the squirrels haven't found them yet. The geraniums are brilliantly green and waiting for a spurt of warm weather to explode with color. The aspidistra have put on a new flush of growth and look lovely in the shady area near the door. I have groomed the faded primroses and set them in a shady corner until fall when I will divide, replant, and fertilize them.

All in all, everything is hanging in there, waiting for summer, if it ever arrives.


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