Spring hopes

For those of you who have been wondering if I’ve been neglecting my garden during the early spring with all the running my husband and I have been doing, you’re right. I have neglected my garden, and as a result, the chipmunks are winning a battle I didn’t realize we were already fighting this season.

When my husband and I came home from an out-of-town trip early this week, he went outside and stayed outside for a looooong time. When he came inside, he was steaming mad. Why? A beautiful camellia had tipped over, its roots eaten/disturbed by chipmunks tunneling around everywhere.

After several years of barely blooming, that particular camellia bloomed more abundantly this year, and a few weeks back, I took some photos of it:

A beautiful young camellia just weeks ago

A beautiful young camellia just weeks ago

I’m glad now that I photographed it when I did, because it may not survive the chipmunk wars to bloom another season. Its lovely blooms stayed well past a typical camellia season, probably because we’ve had a mostly chilly spring so far.

redcamelliabloom2013

A showy bloom from the camellia

My husband propped the camellia back up, and he filled in around it with dirt and my usual arsenal against varmints: permatill (tiny rocks that act as a soil conditioner and supposedly also as a deterrent to burrowing rodents like chipmunks); holy moley (mole repellent that apparently does not repel chipmunks); more dirt and new mulch; and holly tone (fertilizer to strengthen the camellia).

We have hope that our efforts will save the camellia, but it has already shed several yellow leaves, and the rest of the leaves look distressed. I’m not sure whether to cut it way back or leave it alone to see what parts may survive, if any. Master gardeners out there: I welcome your advice.

I’ve spent the last few days weeding and planning next steps for the garden, all the while listening for blasted chipmunks to chirp their way past the red camellia. I’m also trying to figure out the best way to protect the other two camellias we have, along with a young susanqua that is a transplant from my mother’s garden. Heaven help the chipmunks if they go there. Continue reading