In the evening, when the light is as soft as a kitten’s paw, is the best time to entertain photography adventure. Tonight, no wind to blow the plants, and only mosquitoes to spoil the mood. The children call to me in the garden and often find me lying on my side on the paths or in the dirt. They think me strange, but I just dust myself off, hang my camera around my neck and smile.
Cl. ‘Old Blush’ at left is very happy this spring. I have not fertilized her or anything. I’m afraid she would grow even larger. Won’t you come on into the garden and play?
‘Zepherine Droughin,’ below, waits at the other arbor, her cerise pink petticoats shimmering in the perfect light. She had a little taken off the top and sides this weekend, and I fed her alfalfa pellets. The alfalfa is something new I’m trying this year to beef up the roses. ZD does not like the Bayer Advanced All in One fertilizer. I made the nearly fatal mistake of trying it on her last summer, and she was not pleased. Her canes died back, and she quit growing and flowering.
Some roses like the Bayer. Some don’t.
The ones grown with veggies, of course, don’t get Bayer. It is a systemic fertilizer, fungicide and insecticide. It does not work on thrips. I have a lot of thrips, and I won’t spray. Thrips are hardest on the lighter colored roses, like the light pinks and the yellows. They only spoil the first blooms before going away. Where they go, I don’t know . . . but now, I’m starting to sound like Dr. Suess, so I’m going to stop.
Below is another reason I won’t spray. This is a bee caught by a flower spider. I don’t want to kill the beneficial insects along with the thrips even when the beneficials kill each other. I’ve read you can spray neem oil mixed with insecticidal soap to interrupt the feeding and reproductive life cycle of thrips. I don’t know what the effect would be on beneficials, but I’ve read it isn’t as likely to hurt ladybeetles and spiders because they feed on insects instead of plants. However, the jury appears to still be out on bees because they could bring it back to the hive in pollen. You can spray neem oil in Oklahoma, but only on days cooler than 80 degrees. Otherwise, like all horticultural oils, you’ll burn the foliage. Believe me, I’ve done it. Neem oil is also a natural fungicide, but it stinks.
But, back to the light. In these autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora,) golden light appears to shine through their leaves. However, this is their true color. They’ve recovered from winter, and every year, they grow larger and larger in circumference. I like them next to the peach coral bells (Heuchera) in the background. Planted long ago, I’ve lost the cultivar names of both the ferns and coral bells.
These are Ma’s pink iris. For such an old variety, they are heavily ruffled. When I met HH, these iris were planted out by the mailbox next to the road in very compacted soil. I moved them and put them in the garden where they flourished.
They belonged to HH’s maternal grandmother and then, his mother. Along with a French lilac, she gave him some of Ma’s iris rhizomes when he moved out to the country. We also still have the lilac, although the late frost spoiled most of the blossoms this year.
I can’t really see HH digging a hole and patting the rhizomes into place. He does not like to plant anything. I like to think his mother placed them next to the mailbox as a nice greeting for visitors so long ago.