Monday, October 5, 2009

Win some, lose some

Well, I finally got around to tackling some of that to-do list I was talking about last week. I won't re-hash everything here, but I did make some notable discoveries once I finally got back in the garden.

First, I have a golden alexander blooming about five months late! This is Zizia aurea, which normally blooms in May and June, and here it is blossoming when the first frost is lurking only days away.

This plant is obviously very confused, but I won't hold it against the plant since it's a newbie this year. I'm happy that it's so comfortable as to bloom at all in its first year! Hopefully the onset of winter won't do any lasting damage to this bewildered little member of my rain garden.

Just in case I needed another reminder that I am not actually the one in control around here, my Baby Joe-Pye seedling was mercilessly eaten by some critter.

(The scene of the crime.)

After all my coddling and fussing and worrying, this plant, which I nearly nurtured through its critical first year, is now part of the fat reserves of some squirrel or chipmunk preparing for the winter. To be honest, I'm not even that upset; I feel like this is plant karma for all of my fretting over one little seedling. Needless to say, I'm not collecting seeds from my mature Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) this year. Maybe the poor germination rate was because the seeds weren't viable when I gathered them. Maybe it's not them, it's me. Either way, I need to take a break from growing these seedlings.

Apparently that same critter (or some of his accomplices) has been eating my columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) seedlings as well. Now this aggravated me when I found them. These seedlings have been growing beautifully all year, and I am confident that some might actually flower next spring (this is not counting the ones that shriveled upon being planted in too much sun).

So I was outraged by this destruction, until I realized that the critters might have helped me in the long run. I was too wimpy to thin these columbine seedlings or even divide them before planting them in the garden. Eventually, they would have struggled because of root competition and I would have had a chore waiting for me next year or the one after that. The seedling-eaters, however, performed a little natural selection and now I can focus on protecting the survivors and not having to divide an overgrown clump of columbine roots!

So the local rodents devour my seedlings yet don't touch my lettuces; what to make of that? The mysteries of nature, I suppose!


garden girl said...

Hi Rose, good for you knocking some chores off your list!

The rodents went wild in my garden while I was gone, and chomped most of the hydrangea cuttings I'd rooted and tended so lovingly all summer. They decimated about 1/3 of my garden while I was gone, chewed down an ornamental grape, all the asters, most of the coneflowers and phlox, bee balm, and other stuff. I'm surprised they didn't touch the columbine seedlings. (knock on wood.) Speaking of karma, Anyone up for some Brunswick stew?

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

That Joe Pye seedling might have enough roots to make a miraculous resurrection next spring. Don't count it out yet. I've become quite enamored of metal Smith & Hawken baskets that I got at Target. They are very effective for keeping the squirrels away from new planted things.

Rose said...

You never know what you might find in the garden! I've had blooms at strange times, too; maybe your Alexanders had just grown enough to finally bloom and will follow the usual schedule next year. So sorry about the destruction by the rodents--you certainly are looking at the silver lining, though:) But reading Linda's comment, now that is terrible! I think I'd cry if I found something had eaten so much of my garden.

Lol, the word verification is "cry-ob":)

rambleonrose said...

GG--AAH! I would have burst into tears if I found that damage! I am so sorry!! If I have divisions next year of some of those plants, they're yours!

MMD--I hope you're right! I guess I didn't consider the possibility that the roots could recover. I'll mulch it well and hope for the best! And I should invest in some of those baskets. I have more things to plant this fall and I really would like to protect them for foraging rodents!

Rose--Well, I am trying to focus on that silver lining! And yes, I would definitely have cried too!

Diane said...

I saw a magnolia blooming the other day. Plants are so easily confused!

I hope Joe Pye comes back despite its untimely haircut. I had good luck with the critters this year (except the earwigs) but I wish I could hire a rodent to selectively thin my downy sunflowers. It would save me a lot of trouble!

Gail said...

Maybe someday there will be an effective rodent barrier that's attractive. I bought a Joe Pye weed this fall and it was looking fine and then...yikes it turned brown. I am planting it anyway...thinking it might still be alive in the roots! We must have hope. gail

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