Hydrangea in Crisis

August 25, 2010

Dominic and I finally fixed the garage hose reel last night – fully and completely. It required drilling, unscrewing, screwing, a trip to the garage attic and a lot of agitation and aggravation on his part. We are night owls together, he and I, but sometimes my projects don’t mesh with his projects. I think of late night as time to get things accomplished – painting the house, cleaning closets – and he believes late night is for technology – computers, movies and video games. We did manage to get it done with a minimum of angst and I was able to water the butterfly bushes this morning with no leakage and a smooth roll out and roll up of the hose.

This morning was a taste of fall. We still have about four weeks to go before it’s official, and the autumnal equinox doesn’t immediately bring chilly weather, but today was definitely a moment. Fall is my favorite time of year. It means apple picking (which means apple pies), fires in the pit, bursts of color and of course, Halloween, the most fun day of the year.

I watered the front garden this morning, pulled a few weeds and dosed the weeds with vinegar. The balloon flower was deadheaded and continues to amaze me. It’s been blooming for months now and while it is slowing down, there are still buds and balloons preparing to bloom. This may keep up until Labor Day!

This afternoon, I walked outside to make photographs and was confronted by a devastating site. One of the new hydrangeas was wilted and drying, looking past diva stage and well into terminal. My god, how can I have been so lax? How did I not see that this morning? Because I was too busy watering in the front, that’s how! And now my hydrangea is suffering for my lack of attention!

I attached the wand (I love the wand. It puts out such a beautiful spray of water and is just so handy) and soaked it well. The ground sucked it up and sucked it up and when I moved away to water a container, it was dry within seconds. I gave the impatiens a shower, gave the other hydrangeas a good bath and then came back the first hydrangea.

That was when the little grey mouse scurried through the flower bed between the speedwell and the coneflower. Oh, gracious.

The hose was propped up so the water sprayed at the hydrangea’s roots and I started around the house.

The garlic chives are blooming. Stand in certain places in the garden and they seem like waves of stars or drifts of snowflakes. The foxgloves are giving us a burst of color late in the season. The grasses bloom, the pampas grass sending huge fireworks of white high into the sky. The sedum begins its own burst of stars, pink here. The gaillardia begins to dry and look like a fall flower, brown and yellow.

We got one more dinner out of the purple runner beans tonight, but as I picked them, the vines came loose from the ground. The beans were not as delicate, a bit chewy and heavy in fact. Tony did not eat any. He is fussy about his vegetables.

The waterfall is not. I’m wrestling with purchasing a new container for that whole set up – something taller, with a tulip shaped lip so the water will pour and splash over more than just flow. The pond rebuilding is not the Most Fun Job for me, so I think I’m subconsciously throwing up roadblocks, posing dilemmas, to put off the inevitable. Question – if you figure out you’re doing it, is it still subconscious?

My experiment with the coneflower in front is not pleasing. All that time spent carefully deadheading and I didn’t get enough of a second wave to make it truly worth it and I’ve denied myself alot of seed heads that I could plant in other spots in the garden. There are enough, though, for the finches. I’ve seen them already. They come after the butterflies, when the nectar is gone and dried and the seeds stand tall and crisp and tasty. The finches grip the stems and rip the seeds from the heads in a joyous feast.

Thank heavens they’re not eating the butterflies.

The watermelon is caved in on itself and looks like nothing so much as a deflated plastic playground ball. The tomatoes continue to ripen into tasteless mush. This plant was free at the Farmers Market. You get what you pay for. The green peppers are like a younger sister when the older one leaves for college – suddenly blooming, suddenly growing, suddenly interested in the sun and the water. There are baby peppers everywhere and more blossoms. I will not plant watermelon again.

I head back to that sad hydrangea and it is still pathetic. The ground is wet, soaked in fact. The mouse scurries again, soft and grey. I pick up the hose and given the compost bin a thorough soak. Where there is one mouse, there are probably more. The compost bin has a new insect resident; fat big black ants. Is that because there’s a banana in there? Or is it just Big Black Ants In the Compost time of year?

The hose goes back by the hydrangea and another dose of water is administered. I’m watching but I don’t see much improvement, no rising from the death bed. I test a stem and there is still plenty of flexibility, plenty of life, so I think it’s just a matter of time for it to recover. I turn off the water but leave the hose lying there, like an IV I can turn on at a moment’s notice. I will check first thing tomorrow morning and go into medic mode if necessary.

That damn thing better recover.

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