Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lots and lots of lilies

Mid-July is peak time for lilies in the garden. The Aunt Betsy daylilies are still going strong in the front garden, the Oriental lilies are perfuming the air, and the old tiger lilies (left) are hanging their heads. Like fall bulbs, these lilies are so easy to grow and offer such beauty and fragrance that I think I may go mad for them and buy lots more for next year.
Oriental lilies in the front garden
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vile voles

I've been so lucky over the years - no slugs on the hostas, no deer, no squirrels digging up tulip bulbs...but my good luck is over. I have had voles in the front garden for the past couple years. Initially, the only damage was piles of dirt in the front lawn, but last year they ate two hostas. This month, I came back from a week away to find one of the 'Gold Standard' hostas had utterly vanished, and 'Blue Cadet' was lying sideways on the ground. These little, evil creatures tunnel underneath and eat the roots, leaving the beautiful leaves to wither and die.

Google "voles hosta" and you'll find more remedies than you can shake a stick at, most of them imperfect. This posting sums up most of the tips:

You know you have voles if your entire hosta clump disappears into a subterranean hole, or returns in the spring as a fraction of it's last years size. Voles (herbivorous mole relatives) are easy to control if you follow all three steps. First vole bait (rat poison) must be applied every 10 feet through the infected area. If you can find the runs, then apply the material there. If a run isn't evident, then put the material on the ground (they find your hostas don't they). Secondly, cover all of the bait, as the voles only feed in the dark. We like to use clay flower pots (it makes visitors ask questions). Thirdly, repeat the procedure in 2 weeks. This doesn't mean three or four weeks...TWO. If you follow this procedure, you will get rid of your vole problem.

It sounds too good to be true, and I despise rat poison, but maybe that's what I'll have to do. You'd think the neighbor's cat, who's a good hunter, could help me out here, but apparently not. She spends a lot of time in the driveway staring at the junipers - if she'd just turn around she'd find some delicious voles to eat!!

The other suggestion is to pot your hostas and plant them pots and all, or add pea gravel to the bottom of the planting hole. Anyone have any other ideas??


The fragrant lilies I got from EAP et al. have been a delight! I planted several in the back cutting garden, where they didn't really get enough sun to be happy, but they bloomed nevertheless. The ones in the side cutting garden did better, and now the ones in the front garden are slowly coming into bloom.

Their heavy, sweet aroma is so heavenly - I've put the cut flowers in the bathroom since you can barely stand to eat if they're in the dining room or the kitchen.

Also on the verge of blooming are the tiger lilies and the black-eyed susans. The orange daylilies have been in bloom for a few weeks.

The pots have come into their own, very satisfactory. Then for some reason I randomly bought nasturtiums at C&T and planted them on the back trellis, where their *orange* blossoms clash mightily with the pinks of the begonias.

Catching up

June is just a blur, which is too bad because so much happened in the garden. Here's an attempt to catch up just a bit.

Lots of rain and mostly cool temperatures made for a beautiful spring. Favorites include allium triquetrum, which lasted and lasted along the walkway;
the seedpods of the baptisia;

the always-reliable clematis that Betsy gave me twenty years ago as a housewarming present;
and the absolutely gorgeous peonies that threw bloom after bloom this year. The clump's gotten quite big, it might be time to move some of the daylilies, as I keep threatening to do.

This year the rhododendron was incredibly floriferous and was really beautiful for the first time ever (this is an inherited plant that fills up some space quite nicely though I might not have sought it out myself). No pix, just imagine it. Then I finally caught up to Adrian Higgins' article in the Post that notes this is the "best spring ever" for azaleas and rhododendrons, thanks to last year's drought. Apparently, too much moisture promotes leaf growth over flowers - who knew?