Divide and conquer…or not.

I am a big, big believer in gardening on the cheap, which means I divide any perennials that will tolerate it. Which is most of them. But sometimes…well, it doesn’t work out exactly as planned. See evidence at left. Can you find the hostas?

Last summer, this was a bed of badly crowded daylilies, and not even particularly pretty ones, just your garden-variety (sorry) orange ditch lilies. But whatever. They weren’t blooming here, just taking up space, and I had some bare spots here and there, so I spent backbreaking hours digging, dividing, replanting. When I was finished, this little spot had just a handful of daylilies left next to the fence, leaving lots of lovely bare ground in which to plant the hostas I bought (and divided) at the end of the season.

I could see the hostas were in trouble by the end of May. Here’s a more recent shot, taken just a few days ago:

Granted, this is from a different angle, but trust me: The hostas aren’t any more visible when you’re looking at this bed straight-on. Which leads me to wonder: WTF? And the daylilies still didn’t bloom.

So now what? There’s no way I’m wading in and digging the rest of these suckers out; the ones I transplanted didn’t do that well, either, so the hell with that. My inclination is to just yank out the foliage, maybe on a really wet day when some of the roots will come up with the leaves, and at least give the hostas some space to breathe. As for the daylilies I planted in other parts of the yard, they have one more season to redeem themselves. So much for daylilies thriving anywhere.

Oh, and I’d just like to say: The mosquitoes this year? Brutal. I braved the raspberry patch for 10 minutes last night—I cannot let them go to waste!—and ended up with so many bites I looked like a damn leper. I took a quick shower, but the itching was so unbearable I needed a Benadryl to calm it enough for me to sleep. Worst of all, I had a bite under one eye. Nothing you can do about that.

Tonight, during a lull between tornado warnings and flood watches, I took advantage of the slightly cooler temps to weed the front garden bed, which is in a less-verdant part of the yard and has fewer places for skeeters to hide. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And now I have a mosquito bite on my eyelid. Anybody know of a mosquito repellent that will keep these things away from my face? At this point, I’m desperate enough to try just about anything. A necklace of garlic cloves? Mustard plaster? I’m all ears.

Posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 4:05 pm. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are 5 comments on this post.

  1. Sue says:

    I don’t think it looks too bad! Remember your hostas are in their first year there and like shade anyway, so they shouldn’t be bothered by the overlapping daylily foliage and they should get bigger starting next year. Are they a large variety? If so they will fill the area pretty quickly if you take the time to clear the first wave of daylilies right behind them. Give the daylilies in the front a little “haircut” now, cut the leaves back just along the hosta line (not over the top of the daylily plant); the shorter foliage will be mostly obscured by longer foliage in back and will open up your front area a little. Then dig that front line of daylilies out in the fall and decide next spring what you want to do. You’ll be digging daylilies out for years in any case.
    Last fall I divided and replanted my stock of “pacific blue” hostas, lengthening a line I have been working on. They’re tiny, like perfect miniatures of bigger hostas. The ones I divided have only about four – six little leaves this year but they’re hanging in there and should get bigger as time goes on. I just can’t afford the $100 or so it would take to buy nursery stock to go the length of the walk, so patience and a few bare spots are the order of the day.
    No help from me on mosquitoes, sorry, other than spraying repellant on your hair and hoping for the best.

    Posted at July 9th, 2010 at 10:57 am

  2. Sammy says:

    On mosquito-proofing the face: bee net (aka bee hat or veil). It may be hotter than you like, but no chemicals, and it works. You can make one if you can find some fine-mesh netting at a fabric store—just drape it over a strong-brimmed hat. Can you say fashion statement?

    Posted at July 12th, 2010 at 6:50 am

  3. tt says:

    Sue, I think these hostas are mostly the common Alba Marginata variety (which my high-school Latin tells me means “white margins”), so they’re not monsters. But I took your advice and gave the daylilies a haircut. It isn’t pretty, at all, so I’m not bothering with a photo. The skeeters were abominable. All I could do was cut madly and breathe through my nose so they didn’t fly into my mouth—and even then I practically hyperventilated because I had to keep huffing through my nose so I didn’t inhale them. Our lawn-care guys offered an insecticide treatment that would tamp them down a bit, but it would probably require two applications at a total cost—with a discount!—of about $200. Not going there, sorry.

    But Sammy, I do think I’m going to investigate the netting option.

    I had some hope of a biologically friendly remedy in the form of a Shaklee product that the saleslady swore worked on mosquitoes. “They’ll practically bounce off your skin,” she assured me. It helped a bit, but I still got bitten. They are bastards and no mistake. I suspect the far reaches of my garden will be overtaken by wild strawberries by summer’s end; I just cannot get in there and come out with my sanity intact. There’s also a nasty burdock that’s getting ready to bloom in another corner. Maybe I should practice holding my breath.

    Posted at July 13th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

  4. Sue says:

    Oh, I’m sorry it’s not pretty. Maybe no more advice from me!

    Posted at July 16th, 2010 at 10:23 am

  5. tt says:

    Sue, no no no — it was good advice! It’s just not pretty because I had to hack away like a crazy person because of the mosquito infestation, instead of making the deliberate cuts you suggested. If I’d been able to do that, it would look fine, I’m sure. Keep the suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated!

    Posted at July 16th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

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