I learned this weekend that my new specimen* is suffering from the dreaded Powdery Mildew, which apparently afflicts some BB varieties more often than others. Which might explain why I had a beautiful, blooming hot pink Bee Balm (“Pink Lace,” hotchacha) thrive in the same bed where the above “Fireball” flew too close to the sun. (Sorry!)
My friends at Central Mass Gardens made the sad diagnosis and recommended I cut all the stems to the ground, in hopes any new shoots would spring up un-infected. Maybe it will bloom next year. (I sound like a pre-2004 Red Sox fan.) Must admit, cutting it back was no huge sacrifice, though, as it had already failed miserably, leading me to prune it into gruesome little sticks last week. I got really excited when I saw new green leaves poking out… until they turned white.
The garden gurus also instructed me to put the mildewed BB leaves in the garbage, lest they winter over in my compost pile. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them my “compost pile” is just a dump of old weeds and leaves at the bottom of my yard that I have not been energetic enough to work into anything resembling “compost.” I don’t know how to do that yet. Composting kind of scares me. People are so… zealous about it. Like it’s a religion. “Can I have your old coffee grounds?” they ask, eyes all alight and intense, like they found Jesus.) But lest I infect my yard waste, I dutifully threw the moldy leaves in a plastic bag headed for the real GARBAGE. (Who knows, maybe I will compost someday? No sense limiting my options with mildew-infected dirt.)
Unfortunately, I trimmed some euonymus bushes with the same old clippers before I read this. Guess I should have dipped them in a bleach solution before using them again. Next time. (Now I’ll have to watch the euonymus for mold. What next?)
Now I need to hit the BB stumps with fungicide, I understand. Or maybe I’ll try this DIY brew suggested by eHow: 1 gallon of water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a few drops of dish washing detergent.
Have to admit I’m fighting a bit of mid-August inertia out there in the garden. I catch myself thinking things like, oh well, maybe it will bloom next year. Next year. Next year…
In more inspiring news — and totally counter to my end-of-summer doldrums (or maybe to fight them?) — I indulged in the coolest new Coleus at the nursery this weekend. I know, I know… it’s an annual. But it was less than $5. And it’s called Fishnet Stockings. Rrrraaaaahhhrrrrrr.
I also learned, thrillingly, that Coneflower (Echinacea for the fancy folk) are perennials. Yay! Some young fool at a nursery told me they’re annuals, and while it seemed weird — they grow in people’s yards like wildflowers around here, very unpurposeful looking — I believed it. What do I know? I thought… ehhhh. Annuals. But when I found out they’re perennials I had to buy a few in celebration, for a little happy, much-needed color (and mood) boost. Ahhhhh.
What Bee Balm?
* I don’t want to slander anyone here, but I have to report that I got the mildewed Fireball Bee Balm at Home Depot. After hearing that giant anti-Home Depot rant from the local nursery owner a few weeks ago, I have really been thinking about the big HD and whether their plants are inferior. Are their pots really too small? Are their plants destined to, uh, not do so well? The Gay Feather, Daylilies, Yarrow and Bee Balm I bought there this summer have all done poorly. Or outright died. Now, maybe it’s my legendary Cooling abilities or… ? When I told the ladies at Central Mass Gardens that’s where I got the Bee Balm, they nodded knowingly…. like Ohhhhhhh. Don’t get me wrong, I have killed plants from many local nurseries. Still, I think I am going to try to buy local as much as possible from now on and see if it helps a little. It’s a good policy, regardless. Supporting the indies and all. And usually only costs a few bucks more, here and there.