• Jill

Top FOUR Disappointments in the Summer Garden


I hate doing this…but you need to know. What didn’t work is almost as important as what did work. Now, I ‘m not saying that the disappointments were not partially gardener error. I’m willing to take some of the blame. But not ALL of the blame, because I don’t play favorites in the garden, and I try to give each little specimen what he or she needs. Sometimes, I fear, however, that this results in a “smothering” effect so that I give them so much attention, that they wilt under the weight of my gaze, and all that water.

The intense and prolonged heat cannot have been good for some plants, so that is also a possibility. Whatever the case may be, this is just a public service announcement about what you need to look out for when you are considering choices for your garden.

And now…the top FOUR disappointments!


1. Nemesia

The nemesia was brought in after an emergency audit when I became worried that my front border was heading south, and that I would have no color at all during the summer. As an emergency measure, they completely failed. Had I relied on these annuals to perk up the garden, I would have been in deep trouble. Luckily, the marigolds came roaring back (thanks to my major efforts) and the nemesia became an inconsequential player. That was fortuitous. They were unreliable, provided wan to no color, didn’t spread, and pretty much flopped over the first week in the garden. I won’t be calling on them in a pinch any more.

2. Geranium




You may think I’ve lost my mind to be dissing the geranium. But look at her! She’s a mess. On life support! I am certain that she will make it because geraniums are very hardy, and I can see little buds trying to show themselves, but honestly, this is her time to shine, and so far, nada. She was a tricolored geranium that was absolutely spectacular in the nursery. I planted her and she immediately balked, and so here we are. Geraniums love Southern California, and don’t mind the heat. So I think that this must be my fault, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. She was supposed to be the back of the planter color, and was to give that part of the garden a pop. Suffice to say, it was less a pop, and more like a fizzle. But I won’t give up on her!

3. Queen of Elegance Tree Rose




Roses are a real investment. They are perennials, obviously, so they become part of the family once you plant them. And tree roses in particular are very showy, stand tall, and are supposed to provide the height, and visual interest that landscapers recommend. Well, the new 2020 Queen of Elegance rose is none of that. I bought her sight unseen, when I knew I needed to replace one of my last year’s roses, but couldn’t visit the nursery because of quarantine. She sounded like a colorful and showy floribunda, and came with a few fun blooms. But again, the minute I planted her, she started to pout, and that was it. She was reluctant the whole season. To her credit, she remained nice and green, but otherwise, she did not do her job. “A rose by any another name” would have been better…(Can you tell I was an English teacher?)

4. Night Sky Petunias



These were all the rage this season. I saw them in lots of nurseries. And you can see why. If the blooms cooperate, they are a really fun addition to the garden. The fact that each bloom is a surprise, and that they maintain such a saturated purple color with the white highlights, is all a delight. IF you can get them to grow properly.

Mine have been either blighted with bugs (I saw one drop off as I was spraying a couple of weeks ago), or unhappy with the watering all season. I can’t seem to get it right. I’ve used 3 different kinds of organic insecticides, and I’ve adjusted watering. But honestly there’s only so much a girl can do! And they’re only petunias, it’s not like they’re some rare specimen from South Africa or anything. So I think that they are being unreasonably fussy. Ok. I’m victim blaming. That’s wrong. Honestly, I don’t know what happened to these beauties. But next year, I’ll just enjoy them from afar. I’m not going to invite them back for an encore. I do, however, have a secret petunia plan that I will share next season.

So…that’s it! Those are the problem children. The two annuals won’t be considered for my garden next year. And the two perennials, I will baby along and hope for better results when they settle in. You never know! I’ve had students who in the first month really struggled, and then turned out to be my best students! I’m betting that the same thing can happen in the garden as well.

Persistence and patience! That’s what it takes.

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