July is the most two faced decietful underhanded double dealing month of the year. Every June 30th, I am in a good gardening place, usually quite pleased with the way things are going here. After all, the roses and peony are in bloom, the clematis is at the height of the early bloom cycle, foliage is generally clean and whole and gardening feels like the relaxing hobby I romanticize it to be.
Then the calendar page flips….and so does my mood.
First the bugs descend; sawflies on the roses, ants everywhere tunneling and spreading weed seeds, beetles of very description attacking ornamentals and edibles without nary a thought given to the gardener who would like to enjoy them and may I add PLANTED them to begin with. Horn worms, caterpillars, leaf miners, you name it, they are here munching away.
My early mornings and evenings are spent circling the garden with what I refer to as my “Slug Cup of Death” which is a red plastic cup full of soapy water to drown the japanese beetles and slugs I handpick off the plants.
The bunnies are up to their tricks again as new litters crop up everywhere in this cruel month ( and cruel it will be to them as well if we find their burrows….we are over the cuteness ….we have seen the destruction… we will cull as needed to keep the population explosion in check.) The skunks arrive digging for bugs , flinging plants out willy nilly as they forage and root around the garden beds.
Just to add to the feeling of despair, the wasps are out in full force. In this full-of-flowers garden the pollinators outnumber the humans about a billion to 1 and we all seem to live in harmony until the wasps move in. They are building nests in the patio furniture, behind the downspouts, in the empty birdhouses. The ground dwellers and diggers ( great black wasps and golden diggger wasps) have dug large holes in the entire front bed and walkway, and there is hardly a place I can walk by without being warned by the sentries of the ground hornets to back off. July always brings the first of what will be many stings, but this year the first sting resulted in an unfortunate reaction that leaves me now needing an epi-pen so the next sting will not be my last. I have always let the wasps that were generally out of the way of traffic do as they please, especially the diggers because they feed the grasshoppers ( yet another plague) to their young. But this year their numbers are very large and now I am allergic so I need to erradicate nests that are too close for comfort and I am not happy about it.
Moving on to the plants, the cold wet extended spring started an avalanche of fungal spores , and plants that were just recovering from that are now facing the effects of the very hot very dry weather that followed. Crunchy is the word of the day in these parts. Even with all the hand watering I did many things are still suffering.
Then , just when my days feel like one endless garden catstrophe after the next, we get a few rainstorms and things start to perk up, the beetles finish up their eating/mating frenzy and dissapear, the late summer bloomers start to shine, and I walk around here with a smile on my face and a song in my heart as I watch the butterflies and hummingbirds frolic amoung the blosssoms…..no, wait…that’s not me…that was a TV commercial or a Disney movie flashback. Who am I kidding? I walk around here with maybe a hopeful glimpse at a beautiful flower, but knowing full well there is a slug on it somewhere and that even though it feels much better in The Burrow today than it did yesterday, nature is not done with me yet.
( July in photos…click to enlarge )