Buds and Spades and Other Stuff

Any day now...

This Stapelia bud is going to open up and I'll find out what it really smells like.

It is supposed to smell and look like rotting flesh. I can hardly wait.

Seriously, I can hardly wait. I've never seen this flower in person. It will be fun!

Maybe it will wait and bloom on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, coming up this Friday?


They don't make tools like they used to.

I bought this spade years ago, at a Sam's Club. It was shiny stainless steel. It is still shiny stainless steel.

I thought it would last forever.

The other day, I noticed a tiny tear in the metal, up by the handle. I realized then that this spade's days were numbered, that any day now the tiny tears in the metal would grow in size. "Any day now" turned out to be yesterday when I was digging up some peonies.

Fortunately, this wasn't my only spade. You really didn't think that someone with as many hoes as I have would have just one spade did you? When this spade finally gave way, I grabbed another spade and kept on digging.

Of course, now I need a new spade.


If you are squeamish about plant diseases, look away.

I've never seen such powdery mildew in all my gardening days. It is thick on the stems of the peonies I cut back and moved. I noticed my neighbor's peonies look just as bad.

The peonies were planted on the side of my house and it took a special trip in the spring to go see them in bloom. I moved them to the back garden, where the garden designer suggested they should be planted.

Now I'll be able to sit on the patio, gaze off to the right and see the peonies in bloom in the spring.

Here's a picture of the blooms from a few years ago.

I am posting this picture so you can look at it for awhile and get the images of the broken spade and the plant disease out of your mind.


Watch for tweets on the progress of the Stapelia.

Pray for rain.

Garden well and often.

Carpe hortus.


  1. Get ready to hold your nose; it really does stink -- and attract flies. Nice. I had one for a few years, but last year it bit the dust in the first real winter we had in Texas in a long time (my small greenhouse is not heated). I always kept mine outside and you could catch a whiff of it every now and then on my back patio. And it really does look like a starfish! Very cool! Hope to submit my very first Bloom Day post on Friday :-)

  2. It's kind of a pre-Halloween scary post...beware of the smells, the sharp edges, the creepy mildew. Luckily it ended on a beautiful note and we can anticipate those lovely blooms next spring!

  3. It would be very interesting to see the flower. I have never seen that kind bloom either.

    Also, It is the first time i see a spade break, I usually only see the handles go bad, you must really put a lot of effort into your garden.

    good luck with your powdery mildew, i had that problem last winter, its not nice.

  4. Thank you, I appreciate your thoughtfulness in leaving us with a lovely image. Nothing lovely about mildew... I am on a seemingly endless quest for the perfect fork to go with my perfect spade. The spade has an extra long handle, making digging a doddle. Its fork partner bent irretrievably. Can't find replacement. Tools can be stressful!

  5. Well I, for one, am relieved to see that pretty peony picture to give my eyes and brain a deep cleansing breath! Whew! That spade damage is distressing. It must be said that you have one strong digging leg to do that kind of metal tearing. Are you the hidden offspring of Superman, perhaps? :-)

  6. what emotions...

    the stinky plant was a little gross, the mildew a lot gross...

    ...but then (I am NOT kidding), started (literally) drooling when I saw your peonies...

    I haven't seen a peony (of mine) bloom in 2 years...I cannot WAIT until spring!!! Spring! Spring! Spring!

  7. Carol, Rotting flesh~Is it in the house?! I broke two perennial rabbiting spades and miss them dearly! My favorite cracked from the bottom up~and I have yet to replace it with a new fav! Hoping your peony settles in and blooms next spring. gail

  8. Your ground must be pretty hard from no rain to do that to your spade! I can't wait to hear about the stinky Stapelia - tell it to go on and open already - we're getting impatient!

  9. I'm praying for rain - and hoping that this dry summer hasn't done too much damage to the peonies or roses. People with wells cannot do generous watering.

  10. Oh darn, they had one of those in bloom at Lockwood's and I forgot to check it out when I was there the other day! Cool plant! I should get one.

  11. Oh, let the stink-fest begin! Open the windows, and put a fan between you and the plant, blowing outwards. I've heard these are pretty rank.

  12. I just posted a couple of guides to buying a spade on my site. There was a lot of advice in a couple of vids on the Fine Gardening website that were amazingly helpful and taught me a couple things I didn't know about spade shopping and I love spades. Your love of hoes is still greater than my love of all things spade, but I do have quite a few.

  13. How weird - the art director where I work just brought in his Staplia since it's blooming. I smelled one of the dead blooms and it reminded me of my cats' breath. :-) You've got me nervous about my peony now. I just ordered one, and they are not often grown around here. Who knows what Southern disease may like them!

  14. Ou staphelia attracted lots of blow flies, but we did not detect any smell-but then again its out in the open with wind from the sea.

  15. I hope the Stapelia blooms for GBBD so you can tell us exactly what it smells like, Carol. I'd rather read your description than experience the smell firsthand:)

    I hope the powdery mildew doesn't affect your peonies next year--they're too beautiful to lose!

  16. Don't throw that broken shovel out - it could be the start of a great garden ornament.

  17. Thank you for posting the pics of the flowers at the end, the powdery mildew was so gross I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

  18. Those stapelia flowers are always amazing in their detail!

    Broken spades. . . you are right. They don't make them like they used to. The one you buy to replace that one will be lighter, flimsier, and more expensive. It won't last as long either. I have an old, solid shank spade that has lasted through three other spades. When it finally wears out I will miss it terribly -- I'm not sure they even make them with a solid shank any more. God forbid that they should devote that extra cubic inch of metal to making something that will last more than a couple of years. After all, things are supposed to break so we will buy more of them.

  19. That Stapelia looks very interesting. I can't wait to see it bloom. Do show the photo. The stem looks like my dragon fruit stem. That was a wonderful idea; to post beautiful flowers right at the end. Some of us have short memory. We remember the first and the last only. :)

  20. That bud is pretty impressive on its own. I hope your peonies grow well in their new spot and the mildew doesn't hurt them.

    Have fun spade shopping!


Post a Comment

Comments are to a blog what flowers are to a garden. Sow your thoughts here and may all your comments multiply as blooms in your garden.

Though there is never enough time to respond to each comment individually these days, please know that I do read and love each one and will try to reciprocate on your blog.

By the way, if you are leaving a comment just so you can include a link to your business site, the garden fairies will find it and compost it!