Actually, a prominent Canadian gardener named Ed Lawrence did write a gardening help book called Gardening Grief and Glory. It consists of answering specific questions he’d received over the years, so it’s highly specific, but if you have any of those problems, it’s also extremely helpful.
Where was I? Oh, right…more grief than glory, really. Can’t have one without the other, in gardening.
I’ll start with the grief. The two wild black raspberry bushes (Rubus occidentalis) finally got black raspberry orange rust (Arthuriomyces peckianus), a fungus that goes systemic and eventually kills the plant. It was really a matter of time; when one plants black or purple raspberries, especially the wild species, one does so in the certain knowledge that eventually this fungus will show up (in this part of the world, anyway). They’ve had a good innings; the two bushes have been around for eight years, so combined with the fact that they were free gifts from the local birds, I probably can’t complain.
Still, it’s disappointing. The berries were small but very plentiful and have a good flavour, and until now were trouble-free. I’ve made desserts, jam, and even wine vinegar from them in the past. Unfortunately, I can’t replant the same species in the same place, and at this point I don’t have anywhere else in the garden to establish a couple more plants. I could replace with red raspberries, which don’t get that particular disease…but are susceptible to diseases of their own.
Anyway, those are considerations for later. This year the harvest is as good as ever, so I’ll wait until the fruiting is done, then cut down, dig up, and burn my two old friends. I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad idea to leave the space fallow for the rest of the season, then fill in the gap next year.
The glory, while glorious, is fleeting: the Michigan lilies (Lilium michiganense) have finally bloomed. I’ve waited seven years for this; that’s right, seven actual years. I knew that when I got them, but then you spend six years wondering if it will ever really happen, or worrying that they might die first because you haven’t put them in the right spot or something. I have two clumps: one in the ground, and one in a pot as a sort of insurance. The one in the ground produced just one flower, while the entire potted clump flowered at once.
It’s a little odd that I have these; they’re the only type of true lily I have. I really don’t like lilies, especially the so-called Asiatic and Oriental hybrids and trumpet lilies, which are probably the most common ones in gardens. I think they look rather blowsy and overbearing, I really dislike the smell, and the plants look like weeds when not in bloom.
Michigan lilies are much more delicate and unscented; they also happen to be one of the few orange flowers I have. Despite the common and Latin names, they’re also native to this area. I haven’t decided if they were worth a seven year wait, but they are lovely. I also seem to remember that they were a little more expensive than the other forbs when I got them.
I haven’t noticed what, if any, insects are attracted to them, though, because the weather just turned so flaming hot and humid that I’ve not been inclined to navel-gaze as much in the garden. I know there’s no size perspective in the pictures below, but each flower is only about three inches across. Of course, if the petals spread out fully instead of reflexing, they’d be bigger.
And you know what links the glory to the grief? The clump of lilies growing in the ground is right next to the black raspberries. Funny old world, sometimes.