Notes From The Front Deck: Lessons Learned

Violet geranium (taken through glass) - a prolific bloomer of exquisite colour

On scorching summer days like this when, like approaching winter snow, you can actually smell the humidity that bathes the air, and it’s simply too miserable to do anything, it’s a great time to assess the failures and successes of this season’s garden, thus far.

Though the above photo is blurry from taking the shot through glass, I think I’ve come close to capturing the colour of this wonderful “violet” geranium.  It really does have a much deeper burgundy hue, but this is as close as my camera is going to capture it.  The inside of the petal starts out a deep coral and gradates out to a deeper wine colour at the edges.  It is a very prolific bloomer, heavy with buds.  These were a late find, and therefore had a slow start — once they’re a little larger, I’ll take more pics.  This is one geranium I’ll be sure to plant again.

The red verbena did not like the wind...

The red verbena I put in two containers did not like the wind.  And our deck gets a lot of wind.  May was a particularly windy month, but our apartment building sits directly across from a large, open field and our side faces the prevailing wind.  You can see the beginnings of wind burn on the tips of these leaves and eventually, they just turned crisp and brown.

From this... to this

Even this hardy geranium went from a lush plant full of beautiful blooms, to this spindly and pathetic looking thing, regardless of regular watering, full sun, etc.  Again, the leaves turned brown at the edges and I’ve picked the worst ones off.  When it’s windy, it gets a full blast.

So, one lesson learned is to do my homework and find some plants that are a little more tolerant of the conditions on and around the deck.  So many of my containers have been disappointing this year — what the wind didn’t destroy, the earwings finished off!  What a bonus year for those ugly creatures!  They devoured all of my basil and have turned the larger leaves of my ‘Trusty Rusty’ coleus plants into lace. :-?

There are some successes too, of course.  Everything is just coming into its own right now, but some of my planters look just fine to these eyes.

This true orange geranium with three colours of lobelia has been a star since it was planted...love this combination.
Three newly opened Gerbera daisies are pushing their way through a lavender ivy geranium.
This pink Gerbera daisy plant has four newly formed buds.
Though it still doesn't look like much, this sun-dappled part of a small bed beside the red rhododendron is starting to take off as well. 'Hawaii Blue' ageratum; white and purple lobelia; yellow marigolds and 'Trusty Rusty' coleus are all thriving.

Trial and error, that’s what it’s all about, I guess.  The bed by the rhodie will be enlarged at the end of the summer and I hope to fill it with perennials.  This little spot of colour was haphazard, to say the least.  And speaking of Miss Rhodie, with a little TLC and an acidic feeding, she has really taken off and has put out at least 8″ of near leaf growth.  I had nothing to worry about, I guess.

Another lesson learned — raccoons will eat *anything*!  Two nights in a row, we heard a ruckus on the deck, and when Charlie explored with a flashlight, there was a raccoon, shaking the wrought iron pole that the bird feeder hangs from, trying to scatter seed onto the ground.  The second night, he sat his fat ass on the railing and took stones out of the bird bath and threw them at the feeder, trying to break the “glass” sides, I suppose.  You have to give it to them for ingenuity!  Failing at that, he then tried to flip the metal top off the feeder and made a heck of a racket!  Last night, we brought the feeder inside.  (Charlie said he was FAT, by the way, and that his a$$ hung over both sides of the railing.  He must be finding more than seeds to eat!)

Hmm.  I just watched a sparrow try to take a bath in the saucer under the orange geranium pot.  I watered and fed all the pots this morning with Miracle Grow — he had a good splash (and I suppose, a drink) in the saucer.  So, will I look out tomorrow and see a foot high sparrow?

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Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

8 thoughts on “Notes From The Front Deck: Lessons Learned”

  1. I love the color of the fuchsia geranium. Do those have a scent, too? I’m not the best with containers as I tend to forget to water them. I do have a lot of veggies in containers, tucked in sunny spots in beds, because I don’t have enough free space to create a new sunny bed. I remember with veggies, because I wanna eat tomatoes! I think hot sun and wind are really unkind of containers–my only ornamental arrangement is on my shaded north stoop–ferns, coleus (from seed which worked amazingly well, to my surprise), and elephant ears (that I overwinter inside). Gardening is all about learning through doing, at least for me. Just think how smart we’re getting! ;-)

  2. Oh Nancy–I feel your pain as our heat and humidity are taking their toll on my plants also. Not as pretty a year as last in my gardens. But the blooms you do have are marvelous.

    I’m just out the door to get bird seed and shop for a new phone. Things to do in the AC.

    Big hugs to you today.

  3. Isn’t it exasperating trying to get accurate reds, wines, and hot pinks with a digital camera? Sometimes I seem to do okay, I think if I have my polarizing filter on my SLR and if it isn’t too sunny. Fog or cloud seems best.
    Trial and error is what gardening is all about. I’ve lost gazillions of plants over the years, to vagaries of weather, soil, hardiness zone, spleeny plants, all of which amount to gardener error. (heh). But that’s okay; there’s always another plant or seventeen to try out. I just put half a dozen more in this afternoon (it’s foggy up here on the hill).

  4. great tips. I hate raccoons! We have some that raid our trash cans almost every night.

    You’re right – these hot hot hot days are a good time to sit inside and assess!

  5. I just stopped by to check out your fabulous summer blooms and ended up learning something! Great tip Nancy – thank you for sharing your love of gardening with me.

  6. Some colors are so hard to photograph! I totally get that. You did a good job tho. It’s true about experimenting too. We’ve had so much wind here this entire summer ~ a lot of my pot plants (and garden plants) are beat about and looking ragged. I was even thinking of starting over with a couple ~ the nurseries here are having huge blow out sales (4 packs for a buck) ~ but if the wind continues being relentless, they will soon look the same.
    Hope you don’t find a foot tall sparrow ~ that would be scary!!!

  7. I am in trouble if fertilizer makes that bird grow because then I would have giant sized hands because I always stir my watering can with my arm. I am just so lazy I can’t be bothered to go get something else.

    I love Gerberas and just bought a pink one recently. I hope it survives!

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