All in the Same Barrel

b zinnias variedOne of the best bloomers for late summer is the zinnia. Beloved by bees and hummingbirds, it blooms right up to frost, and the more flowers you cut the more new flowers it grows. Also – so far – it is not eaten by any of the visiting varmints in my garden. Excuse me while I knock on wood.

b zinnia stripe blobZinnias come in many colors (everything but blue – what is it about blue?) and sizes, but one of the most interesting to grow is the Peppermint Stripe. It’s of medium height for a zinnia – about two feet tall – and looks hand painted. Stripes can be regular or eccentric,

b zinnia fat stripesbalanced or unbalanced

b zinnia pale stripesevenly pale

b zinnia white w flecslightly marked with sprinkles

b zinnia large blobor wild and crazy.

b stripeysThese are all from one packet of seeds planted together in the same pot where, as they grew, each one opened into its own design. They coexist in glory, the pot made gorgeous by all those different ideas of zinnia beauty. Clearly, it wouldn’t be nearly so interesting if they were all the same.


Woodchuck Measures

b squashI have taken various measures against the woodchuck’s break-in, and so far they are working. I sprayed all the plants inside the garden with animal repellent. I ran a hose out and flooded the tunnel. A woodchuck tunnel usually connects to other woodchuck tunnels, so my hope was to make a mess in there and precipitate a woodchuck crisis. I imagined Mama Woodchuck furiously walling off Junior’s unauthorized expansion unit, scolding him as water poured into her previously tidy home: “You opened it where?? Are you crazy?? Go to your room!” When the water level went down I poured vinegar in after it. I sprinkled mole repellent around the garden perimeter. I smoothed the dirt at the tunnel exit so it would show footprints, and watched for two days. No footprints, and no more damaged plants. I shovelled the dirt back into the tunnel.

b yellow squashSince I wasn’t patient enough to try these one at a time I can’t be sure which ones were effective, but so far the tunnel hasn’t been dug out again, and the squash plants are flourishing. I like to grow yellow squash so I have a fighting chance to spot them under the leaves before they get too big, the way zucchini does.

b zinniasThe zinnias, while blooming, keep getting taller. I strung twine between stakes – it’s in there crosswise as well as on the perimeter – to keep them from flopping over.

b zinnsThese are for cutting, for bouquets, so I want straight stems. I like to mix salmon, rose, and pink zinnias with white cosmos, like this.

b gladsMy yellow gladiolus were flourishing outside the fenced area, looking gorgeous against the purple of Russian sage, and I was just about to tell you they were deer proof. Then I went out and found the yellow blooms in the backyard all nipped off with the telltale ragged edges of deer munching. Why? The deer ignored the purple glads as they bloomed and faded, and the yellow ones in the front yard are still intact. Was it the work of one of those foolish fawns? Did it give him a bellyache? Am I wrong to hope so?