In a small and muddled garden. Dorset. England. Thoughts about gardening and thoughts while gardening. Housework, politics and book reviews too. Esther Montgomery.
Free to Blog! I value your visits. I value your comments. But don't always reply. Bloggers' Liberation Front! Be brave to say the same!

Don't miss posts! Have them sent by email

Monday, February 24, 2014

EVERYTHING IS DYING

I hardly exaggerate. Everything, well, almost everything, in my garden is dying.

As you know, I have epilepsy. This means I sometimes have energy to spare and sometimes barely a starter pack. Since before Christmas, the pattern of my fits has been changing. Instead of a fit a fortnight knocking me out for days, I'm having lots of little fits. Each takes much less time to get over but there are so many of them, life is disrupted. I have a hospital appointment in June. I'm glad I have an appointment in June. It's better than not having an appointment ever. Maybe my medication can be adjusted. Maybe not. Perhaps it will be me that has to adjust. In the meantime, the house silts up. If I shake my head, I fall over. If someone walks close by, I fall over. If I'm sitting up in bed and someone taps their hand on the footboard for emphasis, my head lolls. It's difficult to give the right impression. I don't want to make you think life is dire - but it is disrupted. And I'm getting bored with non-stop reading. (That shows how bad it is!)

If the carpets are un-hoovered, the hand-basins un-washed, our dirty clothes in piles on the landing while they wait to be put in the machine - you can bet anything that the garden is neglected too. I've walked through it to our car from time to time. That's it.

Just now, I went out to look. And, as I said, everything is dying. One of the box bushes by the kitchen door has a huge yellow patch. A dead branch. I touched the soil. Bone dry and dusty. How can this be? Everywhere has been flooding! Of the box bushes in the ground, some of them have leaves going orange. Loads of plants have been nibbled away - including the smaller daffodils. Not a single dwarf iris has flowered. (Tall daffodils are fine - as is the apple tree.) A frond of our Chinese palm is dead. A low growing succulent whose name I can't be bothered to check up on is covered with black spots. On close inspection, they are holes. Something's been eating its way in. Every leaf is affected. Aquilegias are happy. (Hurray) The honeysuckles too. So maybe not quite everything is dying. But the tops of crocosmia leaves are darkening and going floppy and then brown and then something is eating chunks out of them. How can crocosmia die when usually it strains to escape its allocated portion?

I've been watching the bay tree from my bed. It's been suffering a little from wind scorch. Never mind. But there are creatures eating into its leaves too, hollowing them out. It's a big tree. It will survive. But it's sad. And now - a blackberry seedling which moved in with the bleeding hearts (dicentra) has white patches and eaten-away bits. Something has stripped every leaf from the petty spurge. Even weeds are demising! As for our mini-lawn - that was eaten in the autumn. It's now a smooth brown patch of wet brown soil sprinkled with the red dots of cotoneaster berries. Which is another thing. Blackbirds usually strip the tree. They must have been feasting on un-dead, un-sleeping, un-welcome creepies instead.

For all that the box has run out of water, I think it's water wot's done it. A clue may be in the way the aspidistra is spreading. It's never done that before. Aspidistras like it dry. My thoughts - the substance has been washed out of the soil by the rain, rain, constant rain. Now it just runs away. Little slugs, little insects, little but lethal diseases unchecked by frosts because there haven't been any - are on a rampage; pottering around on the damp surface. If it were the season for tomatoes to fruit, there would be blight. (Don't you think?)

Top this with the lavender and sage bushes coming to the end of their natural lives . . . yes, it does seem that the garden (bar daffodils) is dying.

27 comments:

Angie said...

Esther, sorry to read you are, as you said, being disrupted. I wonder can't you bring your appointment forward. My school friend used to suffer fits, yet she went the exact opposite from you. As a young girl they used to take a heck of a lot out of her and could well imagine just what they do as we get on in age (please don't think I'm calling you old, I'm not).
It's odd that your garden is so dry despite the rain, it's obviously getting no chance to penetrate - judging by what's happening in my garden, the wind is the cause.
I hope you can't get on top of your situation and get out into your garden before too long.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hi, Angie. The moisture content of the soil varies from place to place and pot to pot. It's confusing. Where the soil is dry I think it's because the texture and goodness has been washed away so the water just goes straight through. One of the good things about a warm winter is that the worms in the compost bin have been working all the way through so there's lots of compost ready. Trouble is, plants won't all want to be dug up so I can dig it in.
As for the hospital appointment. It was the only one they had - apparently not the only one they are prepared to offer me but the only one left in . . I don't know what time scale they work to. I think I could get an appointment sooner if I went to a local hospital but all my notes going way back are in Southampton and I'd rather see a doctor who has access to them than one who has to work things out from scratch on the day.

Diana said...

you have to go to Southampton to see a specialist? And they can't email your files to the local hospital? How frustrating! I'm worried about the British farmers, after all the floods.

Joanne Noragon said...

I am so sorry. You know so much more about all your plants than I know about any of mine. I can't remember names or faces, including my flowers, so I do my best and hope for the best. You're trying to close in on the cause and can't go do anything about it. I do hope the vicious winter we're having has offed a lot of the garden baddies.And I hope your doctors find some help for you.

rusty duck said...

It's a dispiriting thing this gardening lark. Apart from snowdrops, and tall daffodils which it seems it's impossible to kill, I am bereft of all bulbs. Whatever I plant gets eaten by something. And aquilegias too as it happens.
I hope that appointment can be brought forward. Do they have a system that let's you know if there is a cancellation?

Papermoon Dreams said...

Sorry to hear your condition has been keeping you from working in your garden. I know how sad it is to see your beloved garden fall apart. Three years ago i had my garden landscaped by professional landscapers into my dream garden. I didn't know i would develop several medical conditions that have left me in a wheelchair & unable to work in my garden. it is heartbreaking to see my garden die a little at a time over the past 3 years. Like you several tough plants are holding on like Iris, honeysuckle & a few antique roses. I hope after your hospital visit that you will be able to work in your garden again. Best Wishes, Rebecca, Texas, USA

Anne Wareham said...

O, grim and double grim. I wonder just what damage we are all going to have. You are the first I have read saying this - apart from me (our yew hedges are suffering). But there must be other people suffering? (in their gardens)
The rest? The only merit from being less active may be seeing the garden less....? Hope spring brings some dramatic improvements. Xx

Tim Havenith said...

I really hope that your appointment in June is helpful. I know how much of a pain it is to have your life disrupted by illness. I'm sure your garden will be sorted in due course - perhaps the things that don't make it will leave gaps for garden design inspiration!? In the past couple of years I've restricted myself to native plants in the hope that they won't need so much of my energy - seems to be working so far! Sending you best wishes :)

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Well that's enough to make anybody feel really fed up Esther, what a pain. Bad enough that you are having to deal with such a huge change in your epilepsy, but the garden going to pot like that makes it so much worse. I know how hard I find it when I have a down spell and have to sit and watch the weeds rampaging though the garden - I have developed an amazing capacity to ignore the giant dust bunnies and filthy wash hand basins, but the garden tends to really get to me. Like the others I am appalled that they can't just make all your notes readily available to a consultant nearer to you, though I suppose even then there is no guarantee that an earlier appointment would be available. Hang in there. I fear you may be right about the garden, maybe a heavy mulching will help, once you are up to being up and about. Though I sometimes wonder how many worms, microbes etc have been literally drowned in all the near-continual wet.

Anna said...

Oh Esther I'm sorry to read that that you are going through a rough patch and furthermore that you have such a long wait for an appointment. You would think that in this day and age there would be a way of zapping your medical history to any hospital in the country so that you could hopefully get an earlier appointment. What's happening in your garden sounds absolutely dire. Have you had a chance to find out if neighbouring gardens are suffering in a similar manner? Maybe when it begins to warm up and dry out there will be some signs of recovery.

squirrelbasket said...

Sorry both you and your garden are going through bad times. Hope the appointment helps.
This mild winter has, as you say, allowed the garden bad guys to prosper. But that box problem of yours sounds like box blight. It is becoming commoner here and I lost a box bush by the front door to it a year or so ago...
Hopefully spring will be on the way soon.
best wishes :)

personaleden said...

Oh dear, what a sad and depressing situation! If it's a small comfort for you, all is wet and soggy here too. Firstlyy, I worried about my bulbs but they look fine. Now I worry about my lavenders and others that detest the waterlogged soil. Think I shall have to replace some plants come spring. I do hope things will soon look brighter for you, Esther, and that they can sort out your problems in hospital, although you'll need some patience as the appointment is only in June. Keep your head up :)

Donna said...

Sorry to hear all this Esther...the garden should be a place to find some peace. Perhaps those plants surviving will spread at least. My box get huge amts of orange leaves during our winter and recover so hopefully so will yours.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Diana. Sorry to take so long before replying. I could have gone to a local hospital. It was my choice to go to a specialist department. As for the notes - with computers I think it will gradually become easier for doctors to share information. But I doubt they could cope if all handwritten notes had to be photocopied or typed out and sent digitally. Some patients files are huge. My own notes go back thirty years. New information, no doubt, will be different.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hi Joanne. Sorry to take so long before replying. It's always a balance, isn't it - wishing for the kind of winter that will kill pests but not us! I'm going to have to do a lot of re-potting and feeding now. Can't imagine there are many nutrients in soil that has been rinsed solidly for months. The weather is cheering up now and the ground is satisfyingly easy to dig. It wasn't like that when I wrote the post though!

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Rusty Duck. Apologies for the late reply. Snowdrops - they simply refuse to grow in my garden. And how interesting that something eats your aquilegias. Do you know what it is? The appointment - no, I doubt they would tell me if there was a cancellation. Although epilepsy disrupts my life it doesn't endanger it. I expect cancelled appointments are passed on quickly to people who are seriously ill.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Rebecca at Papermoon Dreams. Sorry for the delay in replying. That is really distressing. Will you be able to get the landscapers to return and raise the beds (at least some of them) so you can tend them?

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Anne. It seems the evergreen trees are in trouble throughout our area - maybe their roots were too much rocked with the winds being high and the ground being sodden. Their leaves and needles are going brown. I haven't the experience to know if they are likely to recover or if tree surgeons are in for a profitable year. As for my garden - it's so small I can see it all in a quick glance from the kitchen door. Fortunately I find some kinds of decay as interesting as growth. I had a couple of patches of woolly aphids on my apple tree last year and spent ages trying to take photographs of them. (I never very well succeeded in trying to make them show up without the 'wool' turning into a white glare.)

I hope your yew hedges are showing signs of renewal. (?)

Esther Montgomery said...

Hi Tim. Sorry for the delay in replying. I like the idea of garden design in my garden! As for 'native' - the little cowslips I overwintered in pots rotted. However, the first of the dandelions is already in flower and not a single creature has taken a bite of it. Dandelions is the way to go. I'm gradually planting them and trying to watch out for ones with different shaped leaves - which is a bit of a challenge because they change shape as they get bigger.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Janet at Plantaliscious.Sorry to take so long to reply. I agree about worms and things. Don't know enough about microbes but the slip of garden at the front of the house (currently packed with daffodils which have decided to flower all at once despite being chosen to make a long season) has green mould/slime over it even though the usual problem there is that it gets too dry and cracks away from roots. I'm digging in home-made compost between plants with a trowel and hand fork. It's difficult to replace nutrients that have been washed away without disturbing things too much.

Esther Montgomery said...

P.S. As you will realise from that reply about compost, I'm beginning to get over the season of fits. Trouble is, such a long time of being inactive means I have put on an uncomfortable amount of weight and have lost a lot of muscle strength and stamina. Am working on it! Hope you are well.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Anna. Hope you too are ok. And sorry to have taken so long to reply. But the delay means the ground is gradually changing now the rain has stopped and the weather is warming. (Not that it was ever very cold.) But when you asked about neighbours' gardens I looked out of the window . . . next door had pools of water across the lawn but they have slightly raised beds which looked (and still look) as if they are doing well. It's the grass they are having trouble with. A few years ago I dug trenches and filled them with gravel as paths. This has worked fine as drainage but that hasn't stopped the nutrients draining away from the soil between; nor the proliferation of little black slugs which are harder to remove than the big ones which . . . where have they gone? Have they drowned or do they hibernate? (Or both!)

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Pat at Squirrel Basket. Apologies for not replying before. I've a lot of blog related things to catch up with!

Box Blight. I seriously hope it isn't! I've looked up pictures and it doesn't look like that. However . . . I did ask my husband if he might have splashed water with detergent in over the little bush nearest the kitchen door (I've a put one on either side of it) and he said he might have poured hot water from a hot water bottle onto it thinking he was helping with the watering! That would account for the yellow leaves being so precise in the area covered. (Why was he pouring hot water out of a hot water bottle?) With other bushes in the garden the leaf bronzing may be due to all the other things we have been talking about in relation to the weather. Maybe a liquid feed would help. I was planning to cut the affected branch away but will leave it now. If he's simply boiled the leaves there may be a chance that new may grow from the woody stem.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Personal Eden. I have loads of daffodils flowering in the front garden while in the back garden the flowers have been eaten up and the tulips are nothing but large leaves which are falling off because something's biting through their stems. Strange how things can be so different with only the space of a small house in between. And why have neither yours nor mine rotted? Thanks for your good wishes. Esther

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Donna. That your box leaves get orange leaves over winter is an encouragement. It will be an interesting year while we find out what will recover and what will die. Little is working out as I would have expected. The leaves on my clematis armandii have nearly all died even though the flowers are opening. New growth comes soon in usual years and tends to be hearty - overwhelming almost. But I don't know how long a clematis armandii is supposed to live. I've had it a while. Maybe it's coincidence and it's coming to the end of its natural life. (I don't know how to find out about the life spans of plants.)

Esther Montgomery said...

DEAR EVERYONE! There's been a gap on Esther's Boring Garden Blog but I posted yesterday - Singing Gardens - http://tinyurl.com/q7nzbgn

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Hi Esther, glad you are having a better spell. I always find one of the worst things about starting to have an "up" patch after a bad patch is the lack of fitness/weight gain, made doubly difficult by the fact that inevitably things have piled up whilst I am out of action leading to stress and in my case frequently over doing it trying to catch up with myself! Be gentel with yourself - do as I say not as I do ;-) I'm sure even just putting some compost on top of the soil will gradually help, there must be some poor worms left.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...