2013 terrible year help

markmd(7)February 22, 2014

Dear fellow gardeners:

I am new to GardenWeb and this is my first post. I am an experienced gardener and have had success with both small space and large space gardens, sun, shade, etc. I have developed my hillside garden over ten years in.northern virginia. It's fairly steep at 2:1, 3:1, has mostly sun and some partial shade. I have multiple terraces with retaining walls. The last five years production has been excellent. Pix taken, amateur gardening website posts, etc.

This year was totally different: From mid May into July we had constant rain and gray skies, with 1 or 2 partly sunny days each week. My plants came up and looked pretty good until early July when I realized they just didn't have that 'lush green' look you see right before everything blooms. Within a couple more weeks, mature perennials looked splindly, few leaves and few flowers. everything from liatris to echinacea to agastache looked bad. Other plants got crown rot, New plants never developed roots beyond the limits of the pots they came in. A 3 year old patch of monarda never got to two feet tall until september with almost no blooms. The only "normal" area was at the very top of the hill on almost level terrain

All the "virginia clay" has been amended at 2 parts hummus/compost to 1 part clay or just replaced with garden soil over several years. I've also used groundcover against erosion. I started using Perma-till in late summer trying to add more aeration. In september, I planted four japanese anemones using Permatill for extra aeration.....they began to die within three weeks. Again, stems were soft, leaves wilted to nothing, unopened blooms dropped or didn't develop.

My theory on this disaster is that, in spite of soil amendment and constant attention to drainage and erosion, gravity has nonetheless, over the years, severely compacted the rain soaked and saturated soil and maybe created some garden-wide disease or fungus causing garden-wide stunted, splindly plants with poor roots in both new and established plants.

Anyone on a hill or otherwise had this happen? The only things I can do, if i'm correct, is garden wide aeration and some sort of disease/fungus prevention applied early spring into the soil. Please send any/all suggestions. Even magic, druid, or other rituals gratefully accepted. This has been a wonderful garden but i'm afraid i'm losing it. I have included gallery photos from 2011-12 (good) and 2013 (bad) for comparison. I am afraid the photos are blurred due to resizing. anyone want better look please email or comment how to get them to you.

Thanks in advance,
Mark Davis

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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

This is a really inactive forum. You need a better photo, and you might get more help if your part of the country has it's own forum. Locals know local plant diseases better than those in other states.

There are forums here for those in the east and south east, and that may be better for you.

I'd also ask my local nursery.

I come here hoping for some activity because we live on a massive hillside, but it's too general a topic, and people have so many different conditions, the comments are few.

I get more answers in plant specific forums, State specific forums, and the landscape forum.

Good luck to you. Sorry for the lack of response on your first post. GET A DIFFERENT PHOTO.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 10:01AM
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Hi Markmd!
It sounds like you have put a ton of work into your garden, and have a good idea of what it needs to keep it looking wonderful. I couldn't tell anything from your picture, but I will tell you that all of the rain that we had last year on this side of the country had a HUGE impact on the plants. I am a plant merchandiser for the greenhouses that supply Home Depot stores. Because of the later than usual frost in 2013, the bloom dates were pushed back by almost a month for most vegetables and perennials. Then just as the tender growth was beginning, we were pounded with 2 months of rain! It stunted the growth of many plants and even our evergreens dropped all their leaves. Your lower beds got even more water from the top of the hill. Add the fact that the leaves don't get a chance to dry out during the daytime, and everything just rots. I'd say, if you are confident in your soil amending practices, then don't worry too much about disease. I feel that all the rain is the culprit.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:48PM
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