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

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Colorful and tidy, what more can you ask of a hillside garden prior to a garden party?

Post Party Wrap

The garden party with the bishop went well. Although it was very windy, the lower part of the garden was protected and cozy. Food was served buffet style and guests settled themselves on the deck, perched on the retaining walls of the cutting garden or sat on the rock wall of the lower patio. All in all, it was a smashing success.

Fungal Fun
Prior to the party, Mrs. Henry let me know that she was concerned that a few of the roses were covered with a powdery substance. I had dusted them with sulfur a few weeks before to take care of some existing fungus disease -- a little black spot here, some patches of powdery mildew there. I washed the plants she was concerned with and they cleaned up perfectly! As an added bonus, the fungal disease was no longer evident on the new growth.

Irrigation Irritation
I'm in an ongoing battle with Henry regarding the irrigation. He turns off the automatic watering system and then forgets to turn it back on, as was the case with the recent garden party. While it is important to make sure your guests aren't surprised with an involuntary shower, it's probably a good idea to write yourself a note to turn the water back on after the festivities are over. Frequently I arrive to find wilted plants and dry soil.

Wilting is very stressful to most plants. Preventing the problem in the first place is probably the best idea, but thoroughly hydrating the roots and wetting the foliage will revive most wilted plants. If the plant is in a container, soaking the entire pot in a deep bucket or sink is the best solution. If the plant is in the ground, surrounding the drip line with a soaker hose and allowing it to run for several hours will saturate the soil and revive the roots. Unfortunately, I have to use both of these methods frequently, so I can attest to their success.

Wascally Wabbits
All of the snapdragons I planted prior to the party have all been eaten. The colorful red and yellow flowers were clipped cleanly to the stem. Not a single leaf remains. The yellow flowers were the first to go, and now the red ones are disappearing -- rapidly. I see the red tailed hawk flying from tree to tree in the nearby open space, but I guess he doesn't care for rabbit.

Almost Apples
The apples are ripening beautifully and the naturally occurring fruit drop has almost come to a halt. I picked a few apples off the ground prior to the party, not wanting anyone to inadvertently twist an ankle. Keeping the fallen fruit picked up also prevents insect infestation for the following year, although the apples at Henry's have been pretty much bug-free this season. I don't know if it was just a quiet insect year or if my dedicated maintenance from years past has been effective. I spray the apple tree with oil during the dormant season to smother overwintering pests and keep all the fallen fruit picked up off the ground prior to harvest. So far, so good.

The Cutting Garden
The poppies I planted from seed during the early spring made an appearance just in time for the party. I had almost given up on them, but the sturdy stems held the colorful blooms high above the riot of color in the cutting garden. The dahlias are spectacular and luckily, the gopher (or rabbits) has decided to dine on snapdragons instead.

And on Into Fall
Now that the party is just a pleasant memory, I can focus on getting ready for the fall planting season. Gardening is never ending here in the West. I'm fortunate that I enjoy it so much!


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