29 August 2009

When bad things happen to good gardens...and other woes

The symmetry and beauty of flowers does a lot to calm us when we're in the middle of turmoil. I love nigella, and this white one does a great deal to just make me feel better about life in general. Although Hurricane Bill wasn't so much of an event, it did manage to make a mess in the garden. And this has been the week of electronic tantrums, too.

My digital SLR camera is acting up so it's on its way to the shop to be cleaned and checked over. That's annoying enough, but the real fun was Sunday morning when I went to wake up Oggy, my MacBook Pro laptop...and there was no video. Turned out that there was shortly afterwards no computer activity at all, because the motherboard had fried. THREE HUGE CHEERS, however, for my Applecare Extended warranty, which replaced the motherboard that would otherwise have cost over $1000.00 Canadian.

A public service announcement to those with Intel-based Mac laptops: apparently, the fans that are supposed to keep the computer cool aren't set high enough (at least in older ones like Oggy). However, there is a small, free program called sncFAnControl that you can download and install, which controls the fan RPMs. I do not know if this is an issue with new laptops, but ask your Apple technician if you have concerns. Mine is certainly running much cooler since its new motherboard and this program were installed. Hopefully my electronic storms are over with! It's no fun trying to read or write blogs on an iPhone, and my hubby's old computer just makes me cranky. Spoiled, that's me!

Back to the story of the garden. Not-really-hurricane Bill did bring a LOT of rain and wind, but the most annoying thing was that the wind changed direction a few times, and managed to create a greatly disheveled garden. Happily, the coneflowers weren't damaged, just made to lean a little, which I've since corrected with a few bamboo stakes and some plant velcro.

To reward me for my labours, 'Mac n Cheese' has really gotten its colour, and sure does look like that particular dish. 'Tiki Torch is in the process of opening, but we're having post-tropical Danny here today so it's bleak and rainy.

Inula (sometimes called Elecampane) is an odd plant, a relative of sunflowers and coneflowers, and a shy, retiring little fellow--regularly reaching well over six feet tall in our garden. It was a staple of Acadien potager gardens, but I have yet to find out definitively why. It was apparently used to treat as diverse ailments as sciatica and colds. Whatever the case, I like the plant's stature and flowers, and it's in a spot where it can get as tall as it wishes.

We grow a fair number of clematis, which do well here because the soil is clay and well mulched, so the roots get the 'cool feet' that they want, while the rest of the plant gets the 'warm head' part of the equation. This species regularly stretches up ten feet (and would go higher if the trellis was taller.

Being a digital shot, the photo looks more purple than the wine the flowers really are.

The little yellow-flowered C. tangutica is still flowering--and growing--profusely. Not as showy as some of its counterparts, but I love the seedheads, which hang on til well into late autumn unless the wind beats them off.

This is Clematis integrifolia 'Caerulea', one of my favourites. Some allow it to ramble across rock walls, but we have ours more or less on an obelisk, (where it has grapevines and a rambunctious rudbeckia relative keeping it company.

Late summer means that the Brazilian vervain (V. bonariensis) is in bloom. I'm going to make carefully where mine are, and not disturb the ground around them in spring, so that they'll reseed. Mine are seedlings given to me by a friend (and much beloved because they're a favourite flower of butterflies, too).

The helenium is also flowering where its in full sun. Other plants, that are in more shade and also taller species, won't be coming on for a little while yet.

Although the monarda is still enthusiastically blooming, and was unphased by the winds, I think that our hummingbirds have packed up and left. Maybe they read about post-tropical Danny, which has brought rain today and possibly wind later. NO matter. It's a good day to catch up on my blog reading. The garden work can wait til a drier day.


  1. It is good that you had the extended warranty on the computer. My ViewSonic monitor went out in early June, thankfully I had the extended warranty which provides a loaner, especially since they still haven't got it fixed yet.

    I like the 'Mac n Cheese'!

  2. Well, Jodi, whatever camera you used for these photos, they are awesome! You have some great blooms yet. That clematis is loaded! Mine don't get thick like that this time of year.

    I'm sorry about your camera and computer woes. I have a Mac Book Pro with a 15 inch monitor. I don't remember if we got an extended warranty. Larry got one on his that he has a 17 inch monitor on, and had to have something major repaired toward the end of the warranty, also.

    I hope your weather improves, too.

  3. It is good that you are able to have your computer fixed without much trouble and expense. Yee who has so many computers.

    I hear there is another storm headed your way. I am amazed that your garden looks unscathed. This is a good thing of course. May it always be true.

    I wish I could get some of those fancy clematis to grow here. They don't last long here. Must be the heat and humidity.

  4. Oh my camera and computer issues at the same time. Thank goodness for warranties.

  5. Looks like 'Caerulea' should be added to my wish list. I like small flowered clematis and the blue/purple would make a nice mix with the yellow tangutica.

    The Elecampane looks different from the wild ones around here - is it a garden variety?

    One good thing about not taking care of my gardens this year - Vervain, Joe Pye Weed, Boneset and Elecampane have all moved in.

  6. Elecampane was probably in the old gardens as a home remedy -- according to Wikipedia, it's antiseptic, which explains the wide applications.

    It's funny to think of you cosseting your Verbena bonariensis; it's a weed here. Very lanky, ugly plant (perhaps it looks better when cultivated?), but the flower colour is pretty.

    Love your clematis, but I think my part of Sydney is too hot to grow them.

    We had a Winter of Electronics Death a few years ago and I hope you are spared the spate of calamities we had!

  7. we often use nigella (sativa) seeds in food but not as flowering plant. this year in fall i will sow seeds and see what happens. all flowers are pretty specially helenium and cone flowers.

  8. Hello there Jodi girl !
    I'm glad "Bill" didn't do any damage.
    Your clematis are looking absolutely gorgeous : ) I finally have Sweet Autumn this year and there are so many flower buds I am in heaven waiting for them to open and I can smell that scent everyone says is wonderful.
    I pinch back my helenium and have stronger stalks and a slightly later bloom that last a long time .. I love them to bits.
    It is time to start organizing the clear up, clean up and pack up of the garden and shed soon .. this season was quick wan't it ? LOL
    Joy : )

  9. it would be a joy to have monarda blooming at the same time as coneflowers...It comes and goes too quickly here. The clemmies are also blooming lightly here...the earlier big bloom time is in May and June! A few thousand miles and a warmer climate zone makes a huge difference. The coneflowers, inula and helenium are lovely. When I began gardening I thought all these plants would be in bloom at the same time~~because I saw them blooming together in gardening magazines and books;) Elizabeth Lawrence's garden essays opened my eyes to gardening in the south! It's one of the reasons I treasure her writing. gail

  10. I like how you called the garden - disheveled. I think this is how my garden looks right now - there are lot of blooms, but Joe Pie, gladiolus, cosmos and other tall plants are leaning, bending and creat this messy look. I always loved your clematises' pictures. Can't believe you have so much of them in bloom now!

  11. Over here in Central NS, not-quite-hurricane Bill did very little damage. But just when I let my guard down, wasn't-even-supposed-to-be-a-tropical-storm Danny flattened everything. I'm still trying to figure out how the storm managed to knock over the tomato cages!

    Sorry to hear about the camera and computer problems.

    Love the coneflowers and clematis. Like one of your other commenters, a little surprised to see you taking such good care of V. bonariensis -- where I came from, it's so tough and aggressive that it's being considered for noxious weed status!

  12. I hit the wrong button on my iPhone screen and rejected Kate's comment by accident, so here it is!

    Kate (http://highaltitudegardening.blogspot.com/) said...

    Hi, Jodi!
    Stopped by to see how the garden was growing. I was worried you might be in the path of that storm and I'm glad to see there wasn't much damage. Nigella is a favorite of mine - lovely photo. I'm with Gail (comment above.) I don't think Monarda can handle our heat. They are very short bloomers. :((

  13. I'm glad to hear Hurricane Bill only did minimal damage to your garden. The purple/wine colored clematis looks just like one in my yard. Mine is Jackmanii and is definitely purple. Do you know what kind yours is? A wine colored one sounds lovely.

  14. WEll your flowers look grand and they do keep on keeping on just like they did before computers and cameras. We are very spoiled.

    We had 3 1/2 inches of rain last night. We need it badly but it did manage to make the garden messy. You must be cold up there as we are at 65 down here. Unusually cool summer for us.

  15. Thank goodness for Applecare - and I hope your camera feels better soon.

    I love the word disheveled when applied to the garden, I must remember that one - the flowers you have posted look lovely and I envy you your celmatis, particularly the C. tangutica.

  16. So glad you got your computer looked after with little trouble (love those extended warranties!) and everything, as usual, looks wonderful in your gardens. With all the big blows and heavy rains we've had, it's a wonder, but it's amazing how tough those plants can be. Good thing! :)

  17. Hi Jodi, so sorry for your computer problems, we are a spoiled lot, taking the electronics that make life run so smoothly for granted. Until they are gone! Your garden is lovely, rain and wind or not. I am particularly interested in the Inula, having started some from seed last winter. This year it is just a rosette of large leaves, but it is supposed to be a tall fellow beginning the next, I hope. Hard to know where to use such a one. Your clemmies are amazing and the echinaceas are obviously so happy. I have looked at Mac n cheese but resisted, so far. The monardas are beyond happy, I hope you are too by now. :-)

  18. I'm a Mac guy myself. I rarely have any problems with any apple products, but when they do happen, they're not often small problems. Still beats dealing with problems nearly every day with other computers. Your nigella is beautiful. I had some but they didn't appear this year.

  19. Glad to hear that Bill didn't do any extensive damage in your area. Your flowers are still looking lovely, and I always enjoy seeing some new varieties here that I've never seen before. Helenium has gone on my plant wish list for next year!

    Sorry to hear about your computer, but you were so lucky to have the extended warranty. Wish I had had one last year when my fairly-new computer crashed:(

  20. Glad the storm did not do too much damage to your area. And sorry about your computer. For the record all laptops, I have been told, tend to overheat because the fan is on the bottom and since we tend to sit them on our laps and pillow, etc. they cannot cool as they should. Some of the newer ones have relocated the fan.

  21. Jodi, I LOVE all those plants in your latest post.I find the hummingbirds go crazy for the verbena bonariensis, too, although like you, I see that all but one of mine have left. The only plant you mention that I have not grown is the clematis caerulea, and I will definitely grow it now!BTW I'm a Canadian transplant,(Montreal) living in Rhode Island
    now. Talk about a different climate Zone!

    (Digging Rhode Island)

  22. I have a few of the same species of plant in my garden. It's so nice to see old friends in your photos. Despite your technical problems and the hurricane-not-quite-a-hurricane, your plants look well.

  23. Hi Jodi, Chanced upon your blog. It's nice. The photographs have been beautiful taken...will come back soon...


  24. I'm so glad that the storms haven't caused too much damage in your garden - I was a bit concerned for you! I know exactly what you mean by the reversing winds - I was in my house during a Cat 1 storm a number of years ago, and watched the winds shift and wreak havoc on my garden. It's definitely a dramatic shift! Anyway, I'm glad all is well - and I'm sorry to hear about all of the electronic problems - it can be such a pain. Good luck!

  25. Thanks for the Mac warning. I'll have to look into whether I should do that. Mine does seem to get rather hot, and I do worry about it.
    I love all your Clematises, they look fantastic.


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