The Ugly Truth

Every week I show you what I hope are lovely, perhaps even inspiring, photos of plants and the landscape. But I control the camera, the angles, the leaves that get included in those photos. The truth of the matter is that unattractive moments happen in the garden; that's part of life. I work hard to make the bad stuff go away or prevent them in the first place, but nature has the last say. We had a very mild early-to-mid-winter this year, thus plants were thinking "Hey...it's a zone 9 winter!" The reality is in late February it turned into a zone 7b winter and so all the new growth suffered. Much of this will recover, of course, so it's rewarding to observe all phases of the garden.
I give you the ugly truth.

Arctostaphylos pumila's new growth is obviously crispy. Not the whole plant, but bits here and there. 



This native Pentstemon fruticosus turned a dark color. I have a second one in another location that is green and unscathed, still, I will leave this in the ground to see what happens. I have hope.


Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis 'Diamond Heights' I know is borderline hardy for me. It's been in the ground a year and a half and has done fine, but it did suffer some damage.


One of several Lavandula 'Van Gogh' that after being really gorgeous all winter and put on a bunch of new growth badly suffered. I don't really know what to do other than leave it and see where new growth emerges, if at all, and then cut back whatever dead growth is above that point. They might be goners.


While this Daphne o. 'Aureomarginata' didn't suffer winter damage, it is clearly being munched on. Another fact of life in the garden - plants are eaten. This doesn't bother me so much if it's not slug damage.


There are several Artemisia 'Powis Castle' in the garden. They all look like this in March. Ick, They will sprout new growth soon. Actually, just over the last week they have put on considerable growth and the uglies are being covered up. I could cut this back to keep it smaller, but I let these grow as they wish for the most part. That means looking at this mess for a couple of months but, really, I don't mind.


Another plant that goes through the uglies is Armeria maritima 'Victor Reiter' . Trust me, it will soon green up and be covered in soft pink pom pom flowers. Just showing you the truth.


My wood chips, while they are thick, have many weeds popping through them. This area will take a while to whip into shape. I need more wood chips, please. Oh, and the birds love picking through them to hunt for bugs so there's always a messy edge to this border and funny little holes.


Many of the gravel paths have weeds coming up. If I had the gravel it would be 7" thick, but gravel costs money. For now I regularly dig these up - I have a method. In time they will go away (if they are growing from below, seeds that blow in on top will still pop up but they tend to be easy to pull).


My NOID opuntia is flopping over. It did this last year too but grew upright come spring. I obviously don't know what I am doing with opuntias. My mom gifted me this one. Advice is most welcome.


Convulvulus cneorum - silver bush morning glory - had a little crispy episode after snow and ice. It actually looks OK for the most part, I think it will recover fine given a few weeks of good sunshine and warm temperatures.


My veggie seedlings suffered this year, too. It's hard to say why sometimes they go gangbusters and other times not so much. Could be the seedling soil, could be the age of the seeds or the temperature and how long they are on the warming mat. They look a little better than this, though, now that we've been hardening them off outside every day.


Rhamnus alaternus 'Variegata' also did the new growth thing, looking gorgeous in January and February. That new growth just couldn't handle the ice and snow from March. I am confident it will grow out of it, but in the meantime we get to look at brown burn marks on the new growth.


The beautiful Lupinus sericatus or Cobb Mountain lupine took a hard hit. I don't know if it will pull through but the live growth on this gives me hope. Again, as with the lavender, I'll wait to see where new growth points are and cut back accordingly.


Lewisiopsis tweedyi (syn. Lewisia tweedyi, Cistanthe tweedyi) should, I believe, be evergreen. I thought it melted this winter and took it for a goner. This little nubbin of growth gives me hope, so I end this post with a bit of post-winter optimism.

I hope this attempt to show other sides of gardening is at the very least amusing. It's important for me to remember who is in control, after all, and that is nature, of course. That means coming clean about some of the damage and less attractive stages the garden goes through. The garden is a living entity after all, not interior decorating, so the sooner I accept that and all of its cycles of life the more I can enjoy it.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you so much for reading and commenting and happy gardening, everyone!


Comments

  1. Thanks for showing the ugly truth. I appreciate knowing it's not always the beautiful (and unattainable) perfection people tend to present in social media. I also get a lot of weeds in my gravel paths and I find them frustrating. I dig them up regularly too, but it's a lot harder than pulling weeds in soil, and I always end up with blisters.

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    1. Ah, you are welcome. We all go through it, I imagine, and perfection is, as you say, unattainable. Those gravel path weeds suck! But, in time, they eventually go away - after, as you know, many blisters and digging. Ouch. That's gardening for you!

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  2. I can't tell you how HAPPY I am to see this! Hehe. Everything always looks so lovely in your posts, so it's a bit of a relief to see that you get the uglies, too. : )

    My two Powis Castles get so enormous they take over, so I cut them back about a month or so ago and they're happily putting out new growth. I have a dianthus subacaulis; the small-leafed clump looks - exactly - like the Armeria you posted. It was turning all brown from the center outward, so I cut it all back recently. Do you think that'll be OK, instead of just leaving it? There is new growth appearing but I just hope it resumes its lovely dome of green.

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    1. So glad that you enjoyed the post! Seriously! I didn't want to give the false impression of loveliness - there are real moments of challenges out there, but that's part of gardening. Your Dianthus s. will be fine, I imagine, I have a few that look pretty crummy right now and they go thought that every year. Give them time, they will probably look gorgeous in no time. Just make sure they have good drainage and sun. Cheers!

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  3. Frustrating as they are, those ugly spots can't be avoided no matter what climate you're working in. Although we had a wonderful winter in terms of rain, I've still got my share of ugly spots too. I hope your lavenders and lupine surprise you by springing back beautifully.

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    1. You are so right, Kris! I can't be avoided. I hope new gardeners know that and don't give up - it's all about learning and enjoying the cycles. I hope my lupines surprise me too....thanks for the hope! :)

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  4. Anonymous1:46 PM PDT

    I'm working on developing a blind spot for the uglies but when one sneaks through I will remember your upbeat attitude about prospects for the future.
    rickii

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    1. I see only beauty in your fantastic garden, Rickii.

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  5. You should see how hideous my garden looks at the moment!! The snow came before anything got cut back in the fall, and stayed all winter. More to come momentarily, just when I thought I might get out and cut back the perennial bed this weekend! It's embarrassing, and yet I don't seem to catch a break with the weather on the weekends to get anything done! The last time the snow melted and I was planning on getting out there on Saturday we got ten inches of snow on Friday, sheesh!!

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    1. Oh, Debbie, you bring up such a good point. The weather - all of our gardens ebb and flow depending on the weather which we cannot control. Something tells me that once your snow is gone, you'll whip your garden into magnificence. I hope it comes sooner than later, snow can be depressing this late in the year.

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  6. The ugly side of gardening is an important topic and I love when people show it. I've definitely got my share of uglies and weird random damage. My Eternal Fragrance daphne has dead bits and burned leaf tips here and there, and it's never been damaged at all before. Weird, weird year, with those mild spells and freezes, and then that nearly 80F blast. The poor plants were all sorts of confused this winter. I think your lavender will be fine. Looks like a lot of new growth on the interior. I would cut it back a bit to clear away the dead bits and give the new growth inside more air and light. That lupine, unfortunately, really doesn't look good. As long as there is some healthy foliage, there is a chance, but all mine that started looking like that eventually died. Pity. Such a gorgeous plant.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Evan. It's true, it is an important topic. I would love for new gardeners to know that all of our gardens have some degree of uglies.

      Thanks for the info on the lavenders and *sigh* I was afraid that you would say that about the lupine. Still, I hold out hope ;)

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  7. Think of the wood chip area as a giant native bird feeder. In my garden the Towhees make a mess scratching mulch onto the walkways in their search for bugs to eat, but since they also eat every single tomato hornworm that appears, mulch on the walkways is a small price to pay.

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    1. Yay! That's a great way to think of the wood chip area, for that is exactly what it has turned into. I had no idea that would be a side effect, but a great one, to be sure. There are always birds bopping around in there. Cool!

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  8. You aren’t doing anything wrong with your NOID opuntia, they flop in the winter, it’s a coping mechanism. I’m not using the proper terms but basically they release the water that would normally keep the pads rigid, so they don’t freeze. Then once it warms up they pull water back into the pads and stand up again.

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    1. Oh, thank you Loree for the opuntia information. I was wondering about that. I will await its standing up once more! Great to know.

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