hillside terrible year 2013
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 photos from 2011-12 (good) and 2013 (bad) for comparison.
Thanks in advance,