Monday, April 2, 2012

Attack of the Devouring Hordes…

Roses get aphids. It’s a fact of life as a gardener. It’s also devastating when it happens to you. Especially when it’s your own fault.

Nasturtiums attract aphids. They appear out of nowhere, out of thin air itself, in my case. One day you’ve got beautiful pale pink, delicate froths of fragrant blooms, the next every surface of your beloved is covered in a carpet of voracious, devouring hordes that blight the very sun from the face of the earth. Or your roses, as the case may be.

I didn’t pay attention. I ignored the warning signs. I waited too long, and didn’t do enough, fast enough.  I didn’t believe what I read on the  internet. Any one of an infinite reasons why, it all comes down to one unavoidable fact:

I have aphids.

So I hemmed and I hawed. Did more research. Checked out bug books and organic gardening bibles from the library. Started spraying the little boogers off with a spray of soapy water. Then a spray of chamomile tea. Then I just squished them by hand, consigning them to the depth's of the garbage can.

Nothing worked. The aphids came right back the next day. Three weeks, then four went by, while the rose valiantly kept producing beautiful green flower buds, which were all covered by a beautiful lime green living, moving, writhing carpet of aphids. Because right next to that pot was… a bigger pot full of flowering Nasturtiums.

Because I love nasturtiums. I love how big their leaves get in spring, big huge floppy leafy green platters that just get bigger and greener with every spring rainstorm. That apparently just love me right back, because they just exploded with growth the second I placed them in dirt. I love their bright sunny yellow flowers faces, and their deep crimson (crimson! be still my heart!) skirts of flowers that cascade over the edges of their pots, sweeping the floor in every breeze that happens to wafts by.

Yes, pots. Plural. I had planted the seeds in three or four other plants, hoping to underplant them to offset the austere legginess of the Camellia, and provide some colour to the rose which wasn’t due to bloom for a while.

I might as well have just dumped a pile of aphids right on the poor plant! Pouring gasoline over her and lighting a match wouldn’t have destroyed her quicker!

So what do you do when you get an infestation? You stare, aghast, at the evidence before you, of your own folly, your own arrogance. Yes, your own greed, even. Then, You Get Real, folks. You wake up to the facts, stop hiding under your own bed from insects the size of a grain of rice, and start making decisions.

The nasturtium-underplanted  camellia- which, by the way, hasn’t been touched by the aphids, is outside the front door. It’s a little windy out there, so I’m watching her like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t start going downhill, but I think it’s going to work out. It’s an open courtyard-ish kind of space, so she’ll get sun and fresh air, and I’ve wanted a plant by the front door anyway, so we’ll see how that goes.

The rose has been divested of her nasturtiums, had her infested blooms removed (ahhhh! my heart clenched with every snip!) and moved into a more open area of the balcony to let the spring rain and winds work their magic. A lot of water, and some fertilizer, lots of love and attention (Ahem, back off aphids! This rose is mine!) and the fight is on!

And now? Well, now all there is to do now is wait and see what those little monsters do next…

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