Forum home Problem solving

I'm new to gardening and think I've made HUGE mistake...

Hi!  I'm not only brand new to gardening but also to the forum.  Thank you for having me!  :) I think I've made a giant mistake and HOPE you can help me!

I've been living in a condo for some 28 years and have a prime location on the golf course.  Desirous to sell and move to SFH soon I decided to make mine different from all the cookie cutter condos, now inhabited predominantly by renters who, while being nice people, are NEVER going to do things like plant flowers, etc., to enrich values of homes or embellish esthetics.  It's just the nature of renters.  SO I decided to invest BIG in my own but I may have made a fatal error OR perhaps you can help me.

This last spring the association announced that instead of doing anything else. AND I mean that ...they take a LOT of money and do VERY little except for the grass and plow snow unless a board member wants something special...this year they (association board president, hereon called "ABP") wanted their own, ant infested yards heavily mulched, stone paved, and flowers put in but ONLY to theirs.  The rest of us just got mulch.  LOTS of mulch and NOTHING else.  I had to go out and buy my own grass seed as the grass all died leaving me with a mud yard.  Intolerable so $200 later I have some grass that they mow occasionally.  Wondering why I want to sell and scram to a single family home?!? I think not.

I, one of zippo gardening experience, found that the ground was suddenly pliable (for the last 30 years it was too hard to even dig a tiny hole to put seed or 4" starter plants in but this year I could turn the soil with a rubber spoon!).

I purchased 128 Van Zyverden bulbs of Oriental Stargazer Lillies, Rannuculus, Gladiolus (of two varieties), and Grand Freesia.  All went into the ground GodSpeed thanks to the pliable soil on May 12th.  Today is July 4th. 

I've tended meticulously and only thing that had shoots are some of the Lilies.  In my haste to have SOMETHING out there I purchased MANY 4" starter plants (which have done well, for the most part) and four each, Gardenias and Pink Azaleas.  One each Gardenia and Azalea I placed in pots.  While not yet blooming they appear healthy and happy while the four in ground look AWFUL, yellow and stunted.  No bigger than the day they went in, May 10th.

The association refused to cut overgrown bushes which blocked the sun from my due west facing home until I raised heck last week.  I'd suspected that was cause of flowers and shrubs failing to flourish or in the case of bulbs, even sprout. We've had a lot of rain, I now have adequate light (except for my roses...5 pots of them which will never get enough sun due to a tree that zelously "expanded" seemingly overnight due to the rain.

I blamed everything on the bushes or bad bulbs UNTIL a lightbulb went off in my head this morning. 

The MULCH! 

I'm no gardener, only learning BUT I have basic reasoning skills about such and I'm wondering IF the mulch atop the soil is the culprit.  I do not know what the composition of the mulch is.  I just know there's LOTS of it. 

The association board president, who is an avid gardener (individual owns a whole block of condos here and had entire perimeter of their homes very heavily mulched, paved with beautiful stepping stones, and, of course, a PLETHORA of shrubs and flowers (yes...WE mere condo mortals paid for THEIRS getting nothing for ours but most everyone's renting here so no one but me cares).  I bring this up because I noticed ABP got about 100 or so pots of varying perennials delivered and left them (in pots) sitting ATOP the mulch mounds for weeks and THEN put them into the ground. 

Am I on the right track?  The mulch is the culprit as perhaps sun didn't reach my bulbs?  What can I do?  Purchase a rake and pull the much off?

I've spent just about $800 on everything out there.  Actually, it's more but I'm too embarrassed to admit what I've gone into debt for in an attempt at making my home nice so it will be esthecally pleasing both while I'm stick here and to potential buyers.

Please PLEASE assist me with your knowledge and experience! 

And no...going to that ABP isn't an option.  I've lived here for 30 years and know the political environment all too well. 

Thank you SO MUCH! 
«13

Posts

  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 15,534
    It sounds to me like you need a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Where are you based?
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,544
    edited July 2018
    Good afternoon, tuffkitten and happy 4th of July. A timely date for you to have contacted a largely British forum.😀

    Even though I have no knowledge of condos it is good to see that the spirit of community co-operation is the same the world over.  

    I cannot comment on your predicament per se, but if the soil was rock hard when the mulch was applied and you had no rain thereafter your plants are probably sitting in a dustbowl with a lid of mulch on top to keep them nice and hot and dry.

    We have one forum member called Blue Onion who lives in Utah and who may be able to give you a more American take on things.

    Very sorry to hear about your problems. Good luck.


    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • I'm in the United States, Upper Midwest. 
  • Fire said:
    It sounds to me like you need a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Where are you based?


    Midwestern U.S., Fire.  I don't think tea will help the garden!  ;)

    I wanted to give as much detail as possible.  I know post is lengthy but without accurate detail I'd be asking for others to blindly guess.

    Thank you for responding. 
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 1,139
    edited July 2018
    I think the first thing to do would be to dig down under your mulch into your soil and see how dry it is. Mulch needs to be applied over soil that has moisture in it really. It's purpose is to suppress weeds, improve the texture of the soil as it breaks down, and probably most importantly in your climate to stop the soil drying out. Therefore if it was applied onto already dry soil, it will only compound the problem, as if it rains the mulch will take up most of the water.
    From what you have described, and given my (limited) knowledge of the midwest I think lack of water is probably the main issue, rather than anything untoward in the actual mulch 
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 1,139
    oh, and any photos you can post of your plot, the mulch, the soil and the plants will help everyone give you much better advice 
  • Jellyfire said:
    I think the first thing to do would be to dig down under your mulch into your soil and see how dry it is. Mulch needs to be applied over soil that has moisture in it really. It's purpose is to suppress weeds, improve the texture of the soil as it breaks down, and probably most importantly in your climate to stop the soil drying out. Therefore if it was applied onto already dry soil, it will only compound the problem, as if it rains the mulch will take up most of the water.
    From what you have described, and given my (limited) knowledge of the midwest I think lack of water is probably the main issue, rather than anything untoward in the actual mulch

    Thank you, Jellyfire.  I think perhaps I shall purchase a rake and pull mulch back.  I've been watering well and here in the USA we've had unprecidently high rainfall since planting so soil actually is quite wet but perhaps the mulch is hindering sun from getting to the bulbs.  Maybe the mulch readily pulls nourishment right up onto itself rather than the bulbs.

    I think you're on the right track...I'm likely just now getting the soil reinvigorated with moisture.

    Thank you!

  • BijdezeeBijdezee BPosts: 1,484
    edited July 2018
    Hi. Welcome to the board. I assume that you live in US by your use of 'condo' . Hope im correct there.

    First thing i thought was that you should have bought artificial grass if no one wants to mow it. Besides that it seems that you think the mulch might have caused damage? This would be unusual unless it has some sort of taint in it. 

    You say that the soil is much improved and easier to work since the mulch, so that's something good. Bulbs will come through mulch, no problem. Were the bulbs placed too deep?? 

    If others have shrubs etc that are growing ok then theres no problem. Is the shade from the bushes all day? Or is it partial shade? If so then again this should not be too much of a problem. 

    Overall it sounds like a lack of planning. If you have some shade then you could have bought plants that like some shade etc. You need to water and feed new plants a lot until they get established and usually they will be better next year once they have their feet down.

    Under the mulch, what is the soil like? Is it light, clay etc, acid or alkaline? What sort of temperatures do you get (min & max) over the year? 
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 1,139
    Bulbs shouldnt have any problem getting up through a good few inches of mulch, unless its much deeper than that?
    If your soil isn't parched then that rules that out. Could your soil be actually waterlogged? Lots of bulbs have a tendency to rot in damp conditions.
  • tuffkitten219tuffkitten219 Posts: 12
    edited July 2018
    pansyface said:
    Good afternoon, tuffkitten and happy 4th of July. A timely date for you to have contacted a largely British forum.😀

    Even though I have no knowledge of condos it is good to see that the spirit of community co-operation is the same the world over.  

    I cannot comment on your predicament per se, but if the soil was rock hard when the mulch was applied and you had no rain thereafter your plants are probably sitting in a dustbowl with a lid of mulch on top to keep them nice and hot and dry.

    We have one forum member called Blue Onion who lives in Utah and who may be able to give you a more American take on things.

    Very sorry to hear about your problems. Good luck.

    Hi Pansyface!  Thank you for well wishes and while I am in Midwest U.S. I don't participate in festivities of such as I'm of British AND Native American ancestry so today's celebration is quite contrary to both heritages!

    As for rain, we've had enormous, record breaking amounts of rain in recent months.  Quite TOO much, actually.

    I came upon the forum as my ISP is in London.  I also know individuals in the U.K. and Europe alike are very keen on flowering gardens with limited space so figured I could get assistance readily

    Thank you for responding! :)

Sign In or Register to comment.