Poetry and Gardening

Musings from the days of a creative writer/gardener with a true appreciation for nature, meditation, and poetry.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Japanese Beetles: Scourge of the Rose Garden

I haven't written lately because I've been so depressed about how the Japanese Beetles have ravaged my roses.  I have been fighting them for the past couple of weeks and this morning when I went outside to pluck them off my trying-to-bloom roses, there were so many of them that I took out the big guns -- Sevin spray.  Even more irritating was that when I was spraying them, the sprayer stopped working, so I had to pour all of the Sevin into another bottle that I usually use to spray the roses for black spot.  Now the two are mixed together and I have no idea whether the combination will work for EITHER of the issues I currently have.

The beetles sit inside the rose buds or on the leaves and just eat, which means the rose never opens up to bloom, and if it's already open and I want to cut a bouquet, I usually end up going inside with a couple of the &*N)(*&$ things still in the flower (lots of fun if they fly off while I'm putting the roses in a vase!).  There have been times during my gardening career that I worked diligently to take care of this scourge naturally/organically.  I've plucked them off one by one, sticking them in the palm of my closed fist, and holding tight, feeling their squirming little bodies until I had twenty or thirty of them captured.  Then I've drowned them in a jar and kept the jar going until the cycle of beetles was done.  By the time the cycle was over, the jar had been filled more times than I could count.  And there have been seasons I've used the yellow plastic bags that Lowe's and Home Depot swore would take care of the population.  Every day, the bag would fill up with more and more beetles.  At least three or four times, I'd have to replace the bags.  Do you know how many beetles that constitutes?  Thousands!  I feel like those bags multiplied the beetle count rather than diminished it!

This year, I'm just shooting them with chemicals, which I hate, but at least the count seems to be down a bit.

So, right now, I'm hating the garden.

The only thing that's blooming well is the Echinacea, which is starting to darken up and become the light purple the flowers are supposed to be.  I have no idea why they start out pale and sickly looking.  Wonder if it's because they're near my air-conditioning unit.  Whatever.

Oh, and the back garden is doing okay.  The geraniums are happy and creating a pink border around the edge, near the rocks I collected and placed there one by one last summer.  And the Mums and Bachelor Buttons are pretty cheery, even though they're sparse.  I wish the garden itself would fill in more, but none of the seeds I planted will grow.  It's got to be that it's in partial shade and the soil stinks (even though I've amended it more than once).

Today's poetry selection is about a garden incident that's pretty bleak (like mine!).

Incident in a Rose Garden: Donald Justice


Sir, I encountered Death

Just now among our roses

Thin as a scythe he stood there.

I knew him by his pictures

He had on his black coat

Black gloves, and broad black hat.

I think he would have spoken,

Seeing his mouth stood open.

Big it was, with white teeth.

As soon as he beckoned, I ran.

I ran untill I found you.

Sir, I'm quitting my job.

I want to see my sons

Once more before I die.

I want to see California.


Sir, you must be that stranger

Who threatened my gardener.

This is my property, sir.

I welcome only friends here.


Sir, I knew your father.

And we were friends at the end.

As for your gardener,

I did not threaten him.

Old men mistake my gestures.

I only ment to ask him

To show me to his master.

I take it you are he?