by Leslie Cox; Saturday; July 11, 2020

Darmera peltata flowersBrrr. Certainly not typical summer weather with temperature highs hovering just a degree or two Celsius either side of 20. I am back to wearing flannel shirts and sweatshirts to cut the wind cutting through the garden most days. But not complaining!! Beats the floods, tornadoes and forest fires in other parts of the country and world. And the climbing number of COVID-19 cases globally. My heart breaks for the people suffering those situations.

Chilly weather aside, we are very lucky and we know it. We have a garden and it is giving us much solace this year as we continue to remain largely in lock-down mode for our own health.

tree frog in 'Purple Rain'Much of this last week has been spent in weeding and deadheading spent spring blossoms. Such activity means we have had some close encounters…like the tree frog spotted in the Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’. We brushed past the flower stems many times as we walked back and forth to the compost bins and the frog never budged. Either it was in a comatose snooze or our personages are not that scary.

I dug up a few ailing hostas in my front garden…ones which were struggling against the chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) roots. Would be best if I could restrict myself to those hosta cultivars which have at least one parent with vigorous growth habits in its bloodline.

Having said that…I generally have good luck in potting up the ailing hostas, giving them TLC with good soil mix, some fertilizer and their own dedicated water source. When they have recovered nicely, I will try them in a new area of my front garden and monitor how they do. Some do well. Some start to struggle again and must be dug up to undergo the resuscitation process again. Sometimes, I will try a third re-location spot in the garden with these ones but sometimes I will just bring them back to health and then put them into a nice pot to show them off. Those big tree roots can be tough to fight.

The freaky thing about this week’s hosta rescue mission were the four large white larvae unearthed under one of the hostas. John and I were prepping the hole for transplanting a clump of Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) into the hosta spot…making it bigger, removing handfuls of matted tree roots when up popped one, two, three…and then four of these squirmy things.

The hunt is on for an identification now. Are they good guys or bad guys? Do they eat slug eggs and bad fungi or are they responsible for eating away the hosta roots? To date, I am not having much luck. I think they are soil grubs but a friend says they are caterpillars.

Any ideas?