April 25, 2011

I'm Not Lovin' This...

I hope you'll allow me to rant for a moment.  The honeymoon of spring has worn off a bit and the unfortunate realities of gardening have made their presence known.

Gardeners, in general, are an optimistic bunch so I won't vent too much.  I don't know, maybe it's the drought.  Or consistent temperatures in the 90's that has my knickers in a bunch.  Or the fact that mosquitoes are a permanent fixture around these parts until next winter.  That's at least seven months away.  Or, it could be that on a recent garden walk I found evidence of a bunch of things that I'm just really not very happy about.

The caterpillars that were feasting on the parsley have disappeared.  I'm not sure whose menu they were a part of...birds, lizards, snakes...they all make their home here.  It's common for a few to be eaten but I've never experienced the whole bunch of them being eaten at one time.

So no new butterflies from these little guys.

I scattered some bluebonnet, larkspur and poppy seeds last fall.  None of them have flowered except for this one bluebonnet.  Yes, you read that right...O.N.E. 

This is what the bluebonnets should look like.  Here is a nice bunch of them accenting an agave at The Wildflower Research Center.

The grackles are back.  I shouldn't begrudge them for doing what they do best...being noisy, aggressive, nuisances but I do.  There is no soft soil in my heart for them. 

And then there are the squirrels.  I thought I had a photo of one trying to get into my bird feeder but I can't find it.  Another thing I could rant about - my haphazard photo archival system - but I won't. 

This is one of my Japanese Maples.  So far three branches have been stripped off this tree.  I haven't actually seen them do it, but I'm fairly certain it is the squirrels.  So I moved the tree (it was in a pot) and then the little buggers tore my chives (photo above the maple) apart looking for seed within.  I'm furious and I'm so over them!  The chive photo was taken yesterday...it actually looks worse today.

Oh, and the grackles have figured out how to eat from the feeder too.  The design of the feeder is supposed to keep big birds out.  I'll be taking it down for a while.

These Indian hawthorn shrubs were transplanted the first week of March to make way for a new patio.  One looks to have survived the transplant; the other appears to have died even after copious amounts of water...because, you remember, the temperatures have been in the 90's throughout spring and we've only had 5" of rain since last November.

And lest you think this rant will go on forever, this is my last entry:

This bed is where the Indian hawthorn were moved from to make room for a patio.  The crushed granite and flagstone have been on my front porch for a month.  I keep expecting a letter from the HOA any moment stating that the neighbors have grown tired of the eyesore.  It frustrates me that I'm not strong enough to get this project done myself.  So I'm in the process of trying to hire some muscle to help me out but muscle is tough to come by in April in Austin, Texas.  Demand is high and the supply of good muscle is low.

Sigh...I thought I would feel better after getting all that off my chest.  But what really makes me feel better is the rich, gorgeous color of these daylilies...

I wouldn't think of leaving off on such a negative tone.  So here is a little eye-candy for you...

Women are like angels and when someone breaks our wings, we simply continue to fly... on a broomstick...we are flexible like that.
                                                                                            Author Unknown


  1. I guess everyone needs a rant now and then. Love the quote. The eye candy was much appreciated. Lovely.

  2. It's funny the way you put it and as usual, your photos are beautiful despite the fact that you were showing things that has gone wrong like have only one blue flower... I need muscles too since I'm in the midst of removing the lawn. I found a gardener who was willing to assist during her off hours. Before she came over, she was transferred to work somewhere else. Sigh! I was also thinking if I may receive some complain letters for having stones in a pile. These stones were suppose to take over the lawn.

    Thanks for the eye candy!

  3. Wasps. Wasps take off with the baby caterpillars.

    And I like your quote. how true...

  4. Thanks for understanding Donna.

    Oh how I sympathize with you One! Maybe a strict exercise program is in order for us!

    Oh, really Katina? I hadn't thought of that but now that you bring it up, there are a lot of wasps in my yard...

  5. You may not feel better getting that rant off your chest, but I sure feel better reading it. Thank god someone else has woes and turmoil and aggravation in her garden, not just me. Sometimes I feel like I am the only cranky person in paradise.....

  6. Beautiful pictures, despite your disappointment. I love the picture of the grackles, which is very moody. Last year I spent probably close to $100 on dahlia bulbs, only one of which came up (but didn't flower). My gardener friend said, "next year . . . " but so far I haven't seen any sprouts :(

  7. Hehe, love the comment! Had a good giggle :)
    Your day lilliescare gorgeous. I know how you feel about 'waiting for muscle'. I get frustrated with myself too when I can't do things by myself! We need magic broomsticks!

  8. Oh, you're not alone Laurrie, not by a long shot! Although I did feel a little bit antsy as I put this out into the blogosphere wondering what all my cheery gardening friends would think. Thanks for your support.

    I hope you have some beautiful Dahlia's this year Elise Ann. I'm sure your photos of them will be stunning.

  9. Oh yeah Christine! Magic broomsticks, that's what we need...we could make a fortune!

  10. Oh Cat, I sympathize! I remember those hot days in Texas that start early and go on forever. So sorry to hear about all the damage in your garden, especially your Japanese Maple. I lost a dogwood tree to the voles the other day. They make me so angry! On a brighter note I do like the flagstone for your patio and am looking forward to seeing the end result. Cheer up! Mother Nature shall take heed.

  11. As annoying as those little birds are, that is a great photo! Also, it will get better. Just to make you feel a little better, I asked my BIL when I should divide my flowers, he said 3 weeks ago. Oh-oh!

  12. I've been known to rant a time or two and you know we have to ge tout our frustrations or we will go mad...and I've been know to get on that broomstick as well...I won't tell you we have the opposite problem with too much rain and flooding here...7 inches just so far in April...makes for a little gardening and not many things flowering (a bit chilly this month)...but that eye candy certainly perked me up...

  13. Much of this could have been written by me. Grackles? check! Lack of bluebonnets? check! Squirrel issues? check! Stones kept in "temporary" location? check!

    In the first photo, what is the plant behind the parsley?

    Those look like "garlic chives" -- are the leaves flat or round? White flowers or purple? Flat leaves and white flowers in summer means garlic chives. Round with purple flowers in spring is chives.

    You have the right attitude though: end on a positive note! Whenever I get down about the garden, I make sure I end my walk by looking at something "good" and exciting. (Usually bamboo) :-)

  14. I had the muscle, then overused the muscle, and you know the story. So hold out for some young guy's muscle, so you don't hurt yourself. It will be worth the wait. Gardening is not an all weed-free, ever-blooming, no-pest, no-disease endeavor. But when it's good, it's wonderful, isn't it :-) The bad makes us appreciate the good, right? It is good you can rant to those of us who totally understand and empathize with you.

  15. It's the same all over, Cat -- you are not alone, though I'm not sure that would make you feel better. Heat, drought, lack of rain (or mere sprinkles from a passing cloud), etc. -- ugh. Most of my caterpillars have gone absent, too, and today I took a few remaining and gave them indoor shelter in my caterpillar hotel. If this makes you smile, imagine the chaotic scene in my kitchen while several caterpillars kept roaming all over the countertop while I tried to get their new hotels ready. Crazy.

  16. I sympathize with you on the drought and early heat. Blech. But look at that cute green table on your porch! Now that was a good find. ;-) Cool grackle pic too.

  17. I heart your eye candy, even a pest is a thing of beauty! Well through the lens anyway =)

  18. Thank goodness for the wonderful daylillies! So sorry for all your gardening travails. Hope you find some helpful muscle soon. The paving looks good...

  19. Ou dear ou dear I'm so sorry and totally understand your frustration.
    I can't believe that squirrels has stripped off your Japanese Maples, we have many squirrels and they never have done that. To me it looks more like rabbits, do you have them!?!
    There is no enough muscles in the world when you need them:)
    My favorite colored daylilies, beautiful. I hope you won't get a heart attack for all these disappointments:)

  20. Ouch! I hear you, sister, that is awful.
    You have all the right in the world to be a little bitchy and witchy right now.
    Good thing you got a sense of humor and that you are still able to appreciate the beautiful in your garden.


  21. Your rant made me feel a little better - it's always good to know that another gardener shares the pain of dead plants and pesky and destructive squirrels! But as gardeners there's almost always a bloom somewhere to make us smile and take the sting away. That's a fabulous daylily!

  22. Thanks Karin. I'm really sorry to hear about your dogwood...I do feel your pain.

    Thanks Marie Elizabeth...3 weeks ago! Yep, I've got a few of those perennials that need dividing too. I guess we missed the window and will have to wait until fall.

    It's nice Donna to have friends who understand...we had a lot of rain last year so I can imagine your circumstances. Always the extremes these days...

    Alan, a lot of our gardening troubles are universal it seems! Behind the parsley is a Japanese Yew and the chives flower white in the summer.

    Thanks for the sympathy Toni! There are many times I think about your gimpy arm. I'm so happy for you that it's healed and your are back in the garden doing what you love.

    Oh that's funny Meredith! I can just imagine you chasing the caterpillars around your kitchen!

    Thanks Pam - You are absolutely right, that was a great find!! I love it btw!

    Thanks Julie ;)

    Thanks Janet - hopefully this week will deliver some muscle.

    Sweet Henrietta, thank you for your sympathies. No, no heart break...I don't let it get me down too much. Just felt the need to get all that off my mind. Thanks for your concern.

    Thanks Annelie, so nice to have gardening friends to turn to.

  23. I sympathize. I talked to a gardener in Houston, they've had only 5" inches of rain. Normally they get 50". Here in Kansas we are overly cool, I planted some bare root geraniums in pots, they root molded. Dead. Your bluebonnets will probably germ next fall. Someone told be to sand them a little (scarify) before planting. Don't get me started on the squirrels. Bushy tailed rodents. It's strange as I have seen many birds of all kinds pecking on small tree branches. Not sure what that is about. We also had early Monarchs with no forage. We're suppose to have 40 degrees on Thursday.

  24. Cat, I have to say I enjoyed your rant. Ugh - can't believe you have mosquitoes already. I'm expecting them to emerge any day now here, since we've had temps in the 80s for awhile. I can totally identify with your frustration about the flagstone. There are so many gardening projects I would be happy to do myself, but lack the strength. When testosterone was being passed out, I was passed over!

    Finally, about the grackles. One thing that has worked for me is using safflower seed in the feeder for a couple of weeks until the grackles realize there's no food to be had and leave the premises. Grackles don't have the right kind of beaks to break open the safflower seed. Unfortunately, many other birds don't either. But cardinals and finches still will come to the feeder. It beats taking it down.

  25. I'm right there with you on the garden rant; this early heat and ongoing drought is making gardening so tough (I've got a poppy situation similar to your bluebonnet one). I'm really hoping for some rain in the next month! But in the meantime, your daylilies are beautiful and I love the quote.

  26. Hello Cat,
    gardening is fun but down here in SE Texas also some ranting is involved sometimes. I had a beautiful flowering hibiscus right next to my entry door and the other day it was just covered with some sort of lice that I hope I got off using soap water. Most of the leaves and blooms were damaged and many of the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. But I can see now growth coming and hope this hibiscus will recover. Another kind of hibiscus just maybe 5ft away never had any lice on it and is just doing fine.
    Squirrels are another subject but I actually don't hate them and don't have too many problems with them. Our dog Brownie, she is outdoors for most of the day, keeps them pretty much away from doing damage to my container plants.
    Mosquitos? No comment on that! LOL
    Although it hasn't been too bad this year yet. I'm sure after we will see a good rain, we will be swamped by mosquitos again too. :(
    Wasps are another lovely subject I could rant about.

    Now the really delight in my backyard besides of the flowers and plants are a cute pair of eastern screech owls nesting in one of our backyard trees right now. Seeing something like that and seeing all the other birdies and beautiful butterflies besides of the flowers and plants that are doing really good, makes up a lot for everything to rant about.
    Happy Gardening (and ranting)
    Paula Jo

  27. Yeah - a while back, I gave up on the birdseed. Between the squirrels, grackles, white-wing doves and even rats (!) - I'd had enough. But I do put out hot pepper suet blocks. Eliminates all the mammals (eek..its hot), and doesn't attract grackles/doves - but still pulls in chickadees, titmice, cardinals and even wrens (an added bonus!)

  28. Aah, the trials and tribulations of the garden. I feel for you Cat. May better times come quickly and in the cheerful way day lily flowers perk you up.

  29. Happy Belated Easter to you, Cat.

    I know how you feel with the 90's. Although here in FW we continue to get a 50 degree day in the middle of them. I freeze my buns off on those 50 degree days. The poor plants have no idea what to do yet. I keep hoping all this wind will blow a little bit of our sprinkle of rain your way.

  30. That's a great way to put it Ginny - blooms taking the sting away. They do that for a lot of life's disappointments.

    @Greggo, it's crazy isn't it? This weather is just screwy. I know you've had a cold spring...interesting how the jet stream can keep all the cold air/rain up your way. We are supposed to be in the 80's tomorrow - a bit of relief...

    Lol Sheila! I was passed over too ;) Thanks for the advice about the bird food; I didn't know that.

    Thanks Amy! I had these grand visions last fall of beautiful beds full of wildflowers! HA!! Pray for rain!

    Paula Jo - how wonderful that you have the screech owls nesting - that's so cool! Thanks for your encouragement I hope your hibiscus makes it too.

    Good to know RBell. I already have a suet feeder and need a new block; I'll give it a try.

    Thanks Patty, I appreciate your warm thoughts and encouragement.

    Thanks TG, it's a mess isn't it? The wind has blown for weeks and we are dry, dry, dry.

  31. I had to look up what 90's meant (Canadian, too young to know farenheit) and was shocked to see your temps are in the 30 degree (celcius) range already! we just had snow a few days ago so I can barely comprehend. Little wonder you're feeling stressed. As much as I love gardening it's good to acknowledge the other side of it too - sore muscles, dead plants, endless chores. Sometimes I think as bloggers we try to make it all sound so nice and we don't mention the other bits.

  32. Just couldn't resist reading your rant, Cat - and empathizing ! You know that squirrels are just rats with bushy tails, right ? I hear you about the grackles too - we had an abundance in Florida - not many here. As for rain - which day's 5" would you like ?

    Thanks for ending on a high note, though - the daylilies are exquisite !


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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