Sad Times for Perennial Gardeners


I am a gardener, so I know suffering.

I am not sure who said, “nature abhors a garden” (it has been attributed to author Michael Pollan). I don’t know about that, but I do know that “nature abhors MY garden.”

By midsummer, I wonder if I should put my suffering plants out of their misery. The hot, humid summer has reduced my hydrangeas to wilted leaves, dried flower heads and rust spots.  

My lawn has dried up, some annuals have browned and even one rosebush died.  I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t want to stay out in this heat either.

Even the blackbirds have tired of taunting me and headed to more productive farmland.

It is just me and my spent flower heads, tired bushes, wilting hydrangea, dried up daylilies, brown loosestrife, slug-eaten hosta, suffering annuals, powdery mildew-stained coreopsis and other unhappy plants. 

My underground sprinkler system couldn’t keep up while I was away on vacation and some of my thirsty plants, like astilbe, just dried up.

My pots are annoyed as well, the caladiums, used to Florida weather, appear to believe that this climate is worse.

To be fair, some plants are doing well, crab grass, wild violets, wild grape and other weeds appear to be thriving.

Autumn gardeners may be enjoying the grasses, sedum, mums, and asters.  But my garden lacks the sun and space necessary for those plants.

So being a gardener, I know that I must continue to suffer. I go out in the early morning, dutifully weeding, watering, snipping off dead flower heads, removing dead leaves and pretending that my garden will recover.  

No, we gardeners cannot give up.  

After all, there is always next spring.

Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.



Letters to Editor

  1. M.Q. Fallaw says

    I have always thought it’s “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I have no idea of the source of the saying, but it’s certainly true as I constantly have to do battle with unwanted plants (including aggressive vines, including poison ivy).

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