Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Going to seed

A combination of a relentlessly crazy workload, travels up and down the East Coast/across the country/around the world, and various family matters have kept me out of the garden this summer.  Weekends were spent either at the office or out of town.  For months, a random hour early in the morning or at sunset is all that I've been able to manage in the garden. Thankfully, my dear husband alleviated one burden by stepping up to assume most of the lawn-mowing responsibilities.

In the meantime, peonies and phlox have mildewed, basil has bolted, and many spent blossoms yearn for deadheading.  While it really doesn't matter whether you tend your garden during the growing season--as long as you can tolerate the disheveled and raggedy results--when it comes harvest time, paying no attention produces big problems.

Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) "Gateway" flower heads

Some of those beautiful blossoms can brag on quite frightening reproductive capabilities.  Fearlessly fertile flowers around here include Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) "Gateway," black-eyed Susan  (Rudbeckia fulgida) "Goldsturm," and Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). 

 Eyes of black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida) "Goldsturm"

All, it seems, is for a few seeds to be dispersed in the fall and, come next spring, a tenacious thicket of stalks and stems have popped up. And when many seeds have self-sown, a weedy mess is the reward to be reaped.

Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

My free hours are currently spent frantically cutting down seed heads and weeding out sprouting volunteers.  It's a simple race against Mother Nature's biological clock.

Marsh mallow

In the absence of vigilant gardening efforts, even the ordinarily spring flowering marsh marigolds seem to spot a weed-pulling weakness and have shot out a few blossoms. Stop the madness!