Good morning! As I write this, we have had almost two solid weeks of rain. I feel like I will grow mushrooms soon or develop mildew. And, I think, my garden feels the same way. Things are very green but flowers are reluctant to form and open without some warmth and sunshine. And the seeds just don’t sprout, so I am guessing the morning glories will be a bit behind this summer. Cold rain has to be the worst.

Speaking of worst, sooner or later everyone has to face it. After three weeks in January of 20 to 25 degrees below zero at night with no snow cover, I was expecting some problems in the garden this spring. Well, expectations, good or bad, are sometimes fulfilled.

I think it is important for everyone to know that despite those wonderful gardening magazines filled with wondrous pictures of enormous flowers, gardening in the real world sometimes has pitfalls and there isn’t a lot you can do about it. We all have to face some failures and disappointments in the garden as we do in everything else.

But some of my losses this spring were just plain “odd.” And, I have discovered, after talking with several nurseries and many gardeners, so were theirs. People lost things like foundation plantings they’ve had for years. I lost a 15-year-old prone cotoneaster bush, which was huge and one of the first things that I planted at the top of a small garden. I also lost two cotoneasters that grew under a window by the foundation, which were just about as old. However, less than five feet away from that foundation planting is a matching one, and it is going right to town covered in bright green leaves and beginning to blossom. Both sets experience the same conditions as far as I can tell, but the cold got one set and not the other.

‘Don’t give up’

I lost all of my David Austin English roses and my miniature rosebushes. They were all mounded and, in my mind anyway, should have been fine. Miniature roses are notoriously unreliable many times but not the David Austins. But most peculiar of all was the death of the fairy roses. Fairy roses are so hardy and so dependable, but nevertheless they died. Now, here comes the strange part. I have some friends in Buckfield, who are fairly new to gardening and each year since they started have basically treated roses like annuals. The roses died every winter, so these friends just replaced them. Last fall, I explained about mounding the bushes to protect them, and they did. Their roses are just fine this spring. I am happy for them but confused.

I was speaking with one nursery person who told me it has been a hard year because of all the plants and shrubs that have had to be replaced this spring. They are backing their guarantees on things like red maple trees. It is pretty simple, red maple trees just don’t die that often. So, some strange things have happened. If anyone has some fairly sick looking crabapple trees with leaves that are small and blossoms that didn’t open, you are in good company. An expert from the University of Maine says, “Don’t give up.” He believes that with some warmth and sunshine and a little time, the crabapple trees will be just fine. Another victim of a harsh winter.

Canadian hardiness helps

So, it is time to go forward. As my optimistic husband puts it, it’s a good opportunity to re-create. I agree in some respects. Because of their strength and longevity, I have two new fairy roses ready to be planted and two new rockspray cotoneasters for the foundation. My inner debate continues about the David Austin roses but, I suspect, because of my love for their flowers and wonderful scent, I will try again with at least one. The other replacements, however, will have a heavy rugosa heritage. Although my Snow Pavement and Grootendorst roses suffered, they are all returning from the bottom and quite nicely. Little lesson there, I think. The big lesson, though, are my climbing roses on the arbor. They are William Baffins of the Canadian Explorer rose series. They look like they have every spring since they were planted – green, glossy, forming buds and ready to go. I guess they just didn’t notice the winter.

I hope it helps to know that real life, even for a longtime gardener, just isn’t like those glossy photos in the magazines.

Until next time, enjoy what sunshine we are blessed with, take a picnic and find a garden to explore for fun and inspiration. Listen to the bees work as you sip something cold and ponder the joys of your garden and summertime. Summer solstice is June 21, the longest day of the year, plan an adventure.

Happy gardening!

Happy Gardening: Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 20 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]
A garden adventure in June

NORWAY – The McLaughlin Foundation is presenting a tour of the gardens of Norway on Saturday, June 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Private gardens, a community owned old-growth forest, and the McLaughlin Foundation’s garden will all be open to visitors. Gardens on the tour are planted in a variety of styles, all featuring June blooming perennials and annuals.

Among the private gardens, the tour will include English cottage style gardens, an in-town urban garden, gardens featuring art, and the Ordway Grove, an old-growth forest stewarded by the Twin Town Nature Club. It is home to the two largest Eastern white pine trees in the State of Maine. Two additional gardens feature Iris while two more highlight water gardening.

The McLaughlin Foundation garden, planted by the late Bernard McLaughlin over the decades, is now preserved as an example of a vernacular garden.

Advance sale tickets are available at the McLaughlin Foundation in South Paris (743-8820 or and at Books ‘n Things in Oxford. Tickets are $10 prior to the tour or $12 on the day of the tour. On the day of the tour, all tickets will be sold at the McLaughlin Foundation, 97 Main St., South Paris. Box lunches, which may be picked up at the Little Red School House on Norway Lake, may be ordered at the foundation by June 15.

Critter patrol

Well, along with gardens come critters, and they are here. The red lily leaf beetle is working on your lily leaves as we speak. Look for the leaves with holes and then look underneath. You will see this black mushy stuff – it is pretty yucky. If you aren’t too squeamish, just squoosh and wipe it off. You can also wash it off. When you see the bright red, half-inch buggers, kill them. They are just going to lay more eggs for next year. You will find them on your Oriental and Asiatic lilies but not the day lilies.

The Eastern tent caterpillars are also hatching and eating as we speak. If you didn’t get the tents destroyed earlier this spring, those busy little guys are now munching. They are readily identifiable. They are about 2 inches long when full grown, black with a white stripe along the middle of the back and a row of pale blue oval spots on each side of the stripe. They are sparsely covered with fine light-brown hairs.

Remember, if you have critter info you would like to share with other gardeners feel free to send it along.

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