Thursday, May 07, 2009

Caladium calamity

Sniffles and wails follow.

There's a section of our side yard which runs beside the wooden fence, under the neighbor's very large trees, and gets, for all practical purposes, no sunshine. Oh, the sun will touch it very early in the morning, but other than that, it's shade personified. It collects water when it rains, but since we've had semi-drought conditions off and on for several years, it always soaks back in and is almost a non-factor.

Note the word: almost.

Two (three?) years ago, I planted about three dozen caladiums close to the beginning of the row. I used mixed white and green and red and they were lovely. The next year I planted more. Lovelier. Then last year I calculated that in order to turn the entire fence row into a caladium showplace, I would need twelve dozen.

Caladium bulbs are not the cheapest item in the gardening market, but a large nursery sent me a coupon for five dollars off every 25 spent. 20% discount. Sky was the limit. Expiration date: 12/31/09. What better time to use this than for an unseemly amount of caladium bulbs?

There were the jumbos priced at over a dollar each and then there were the number ones at 89 cents. Wasn't a whole lot of difference in size so I opted for the cheaper. It's what I had bought in the past (heck, I'd bought discounted bulbs from WalMart in the past and they'd done well) and the show was great, so why not again?

Two weeks ago, I spent a couple hours digging a trench and laying them in. I covered it with mulch, pleased that my estimated number was just right. (Better to be lucky than good.) I even dragged the hose over and gave everyone a little drink.

Then it started raining. In a week, we've had over seven inches of rain. Want to guess what my caladiums are doing?

Yes, well--insert sniffles and wails here--they're rotting, that's what they're doing. There's not a little nose out yet. I'd need Dutch clogs to navigate part of the trench area. I am not pleased.

And I'm also not replacing them. There are old hanging basket hooks along the fence. Maybe I'll gird my loins and hang something there.

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