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Eleanor's Annual Gardening Letter
by Eleanor Tylbor
by Eleanor Tylbor


Eleanor Tylbor has been a freelance writer and columnist for more than twenty years. A resident of Laval, Quebec, Canada, she began her career as a columnist writing for weekly papers and continues to freelance a column covering local news for “The Chomedy News.”

She has also freelanced articles for Internet sites in addition to providing human-interest pieces for various dailies, and is a monthly contributor to the site, sharing her humorous observations and gardening-angst with gardening aficionados.

She is now into balcony gardening.

Blog The (Somewhat) Complete Gardener

August 25, 2002

Dear gardening friends and/or enthusiasts,

Hard to believe but another year has gone by and time to share this season's gardening successes and fail...not-so-successful endeavors. In spite of extensive planning on my part, the end result was...the same. Or more simply put: blechy. Since last year's monthly diary was so warmly received by everyone, here by popular request (all right - a few of you wrote to say you enjoyed it) is this season's notes.

Last October through March of this year:

Doted upon the indoor plant crew to assuage the symptoms of gardening fever.

Old Dieffenbachier is looking a little under the weather. Actually more than a little. It might join the dearly departed-but-still-missed Venus Fly Trap, that succumbed to over eating one fly too many. Losing another veteran is just too much heartache, since I'm still mourning for the dearly departed ficus whose has been reborn as compost. Life goes on in the plant kingdom one way or another...

April through May:

I'm still waiting to start gardening and I can't take much more of this weather. First it was the never ending snow and now its rain. We all know that lots of rain translates into lots of insects translating into lots of...loss. Oh cruel March! Cruel April and May too...

May (or was it June...)

More sad news to report and yet another loss of a very close friend of the chlorophyll-kind in the back garden. Shocking pink hybrid tea rose has succumbed to winterkill and/or too many insect attacks, and/or not enough water, and/or too much water...or all of the above. At least I'm left with the memories of the happy times we spent together. Routine is so important to delicate blooms, and even though real conversation between us was impossible, I know that deep down inside shocking pink hybrid tea appreciated frequent (maybe too many?) feedings of rose fertilizer on its roots. Somehow, I feel at fault The signs were all there only I chose not to see. Decreasing blooms... fewer buds that were much smaller in size...I decided that a toss in the compost pile was too callous for a bloom of this distinction, so instead shocking pink hybrid tea received a full burial in the newly proposed flower bed...maybe a florabunda next time?

Mid-June to July:

Why am I so greedy? I should have known better than to accept that going away present in the form of a plant, from Ms Perfect Gardener Who Knows Everything!

Last autumn she came over, all sweetness and love, bearing a rooting of an evening primrose.

"Please accept this as a good will gesture, from one gardener to another," I remember her telling me, smiling sweetly. Then she moved out of the neighborhood. This plant has really moved in - and then some, sending out roots and pushing aside all the other more delicate perennials. Oh I have pretty yellow flowers all right - everywhere! Word has got back to me through neighbors that Ms Perfect Gardener Who Knows Everything is still talking (read: laughing) about her "gift"... At least the iris's didn't let me down with their usual showy display of color. It always amazes me how these flowers survive in spite of every type of impediment including a sudden cold or hot spell, lack of water, bad soil - all of which they have faced growing in my garden - and still manage to thrive. I get choked up just thinking about them...such goodness all wrapped up in a specie...

August - the present:

As expected I'm focusing my effort once again (does it ever end?) on insect control and using environmentally friendly control methods. I'm currently experimenting with ample sprinkling of pure red cayenne pepper on leaf surfaces, to act as a deterrent. I've tried every type of liquid concoction suggested, that has included cayenne pepper as an active ingredient without any luck, so I'm going "full strength" in desperation. Seems that the active ingredient in red pepper it is capsicum, which some insects (so I've been told) don't like one little bit. The problem (isn't there always?) is that it's costing me a fortune in refills! The other problem is that the darn insects discover all the pepper free spots, and chew away around the red pepper covered areas. Truth be known I'm quite impressed with their ingenuity, and convinced they are conducting psychological warfare to make me crazier than I already am. Sort of, "that'll show her to try and cut off our food supply"...Other than that? Today I'm mopping up the remains of a war. The ants arrived a couple of days ago. Hundreds of them...maybe thousands even...anyway the problem is under control and now all that's left is to clear away the bodies. Why do I feel like a funeral director?

And how was your season, dear friends?

With hopes of a brighter gardening season next year,

Yours in gardening,


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