The Nuclear Option

I generally try to stick with organic gardening methods, not because I'm a fruity leftist (though of course I am), but because the smell of the agrichemical stuff irritates me. But today, I made up a batch of what I call Death in a Jar:

Roundup

No, it's not hot Dijon mustard with white wine, though that would have been kind of interesting. It's Roundup, mixed at a high concentration.

That's because I came home last night to discover that although I had spent half last weekend weeding Bermuda grass out of my roses, it had come back and filled in even more. Look:

Bermuda grass among the roses

Well, I can't very well spray in there, not without killing the roses. So I got a watercolour brush that was past its prime, made up my Roundup mixture, and hand-painted Roundup on every blade of grass in the roses. If anybody ever doubts my devotion to my roses, just tell them that.

In other news, we have a lot of fruit. For one thing, the strawberries have, like, exploded in berries, which makes me wonder what the harvest would be like next year if we didn't let them set fruit this year. No way of knowing because those strawberries are MINE.

Strawberries

We also have a bunch of quinces setting up, which has left me conflicted, because clearly the quince is a very strong tree and maybe we should let it have a few quinces this year. There are nowhere near enough to make even one batch of jam, but we could leave a few on and have some of them with cheese.

Quinces

One of my tasks today was top-dressing the blueberries with some of our new compost. They are setting fruit like crazy, and while there isn't much new compost in the pile, they deserved it (I gave some to the sweet cherries, too, because they are heavy feeders).

Blueberries

And finally the Asian pears are starting to look alive. I try not to fuss and fret over plants, because killing them is all a part of gardening, but it would have really sucked to kill some really nice trees. Not that they aren't replaceable, but it would have meant one more year until we could eat the fruit.

And what pretty leaves! I love the blush of red. (Please ignore the pile of used up marking paint cans in the background; I am such a slob.)

Asian pear blooms

All the other fruits are doing well, but sort of boring because they're just leafing out as trees, yawn. Of course, the experimental grapes are limping along, mostly because somebody keeps pilfering the stakes and ripping the plants out of the pots in the process. I'm not naming names, but we do have photos of the crime in process.

What's happening to the grape stakes?

Can I just say that I am so unreasonably in love with this plant? I mean, I could stare at it all day. All I have to say is that it better self-sow all over the garden.

Puuuurty bloooo flower

And the Cecile Brunner burst into bloom this week. It was dark when I got home, and even without the flashlight I could see her all covered in blooms across the yard. (Yes, when I get home on Fridays I wander around the yard with a flashlight checking on my garden.)

Cecile Brunner in bloom

Cecile Brunner's flowers are smallish, only a couple inches across, but they have a nice sweet rose fragrance, and the pink is just perfect. I love this pale blushing pink, and I don't much understand the obsession people have with red roses.

Cecile Brunner blossoms

My Cobweb Thistle (a California native) is getting nice and big. They look like small artichokes in bloom, only much more prickly. I should see if they are edible. (I know it looks like somebody peed all over it, but that was me carefully watering just the plant after having painted Roundup on the Bermuda grass around it.)

Cobwb thistle

I planted a few varieties of non-orange California poppies, too, which are blooming nicely. I don't have much against orange, except that these flowers are right in front of a hedge of pink roses, and orange and pink look really horrible together. Here we have an 'Alba' and 'Purple Gleam'. I don't know if some of their seedlings will revert to orange, but they do self-sow.

non-orange poppies

The Nemophila 'Penny Black' is doing well, though I'm thinking I should have planted it further forward because it is so short. Another California native, but I've never seen it in the wild.

Penny Black

I planted these Viola 'Etain' under the roses, and if they do well I may plant more viola there. Viola like part shade, but the same soil as roses, and sun in the winter. That's pretty much a perfect description of the space inside the rose bed. And they look so pretty in there, before there are any rose blossoms to compete with them.

Viola Etain

Speaking of competing, Mme Alfred here is growing very fast. It is almost scary, how fast she went from nothing to three feet tall. I should see if I can get the neighbor on that side to plant a wisteria for her to tangle with, like the Cecile Brunner. That weensy little plant to her left is a Nigella.

Mme Alfred

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posted by ayse on 05/06/06

2 Comments

Thanks for your renovation story and your gardening pictures and plans. You give me good ideas. Now, I see that big empty space of a yard that you have and groan in jealousy, because there are so many mature shrubs and trees on our lot that it is difficult to plant in anything new. I don't want to kill the trees so I can only work the soil only so close to them and to boot we have heavy clay soil. Which I curse. All the time.

We planted both orange and non-orange California poppies in the parking strip from seed and the non-orange do not seem to revert to orange. They do self-sow nicely, although the end of their growing season (here in Portland, OR) is mid-July, so if I want it to look good in August, I have to re-seed again sometime soon (they're just starting to bloom here). Otherwise they pop back up in September from self-sown seeds and the foliage sticks around all winter unless the temp drops to the 20s.

Glad you're enjoying the saga. Of course, I am terribly jealous of mature plantings, because everything looks so spindly right now.

I am not jealous of heavy clay soil. Been there, done that. SO over it.

At the nursery they told me that if there are orange poppies planted nearby (and there are; one neighbor has an entire front yard of orange poppies), the seedlings will revert, though perhaps I misunderstood and they said only some will revert. I am glad to hear that not all of them will, because I do like the white ones especially. I've never watched the poppies closely for bloom periods, because they seem to stop right around the time the belladonna amaryllis pop up, and those are so lovely that I forget all about the end of poppy season. I should take better notes.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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