ISO Garden Exorcist

Spirits dwell in my garden soil, and they're not beneficial nematodes.

I’m pretty sure my soil is haunted.

In trying to figure out why all the plants in this certain bed in my backyard keep dying slow, excruciating deaths, I have ruled out high pH, micronutrient deficiencies, marine clay, grubs, acid rain, and communist infiltrators.

I figure the only possible explanation for the gradual decline/death of five cherrylaurels, two Itea, three ostrich ferns and a river birch has to lie somewhere in the supernatural realm. 

I took Hort 101 at the local community college, which covered common pests and diseases, but rather egregiously omitted information about planting over indian burial grounds and civil war battlefields, purging your plants of evil spirits, and dealing with neighbors who may be practicing horticultural voodoo or botanical black arts in retaliation for aiming your downspout at their flowerbeds.

In mulling over which of these dark forces may be at work in this garden bed, it occurs to me there is a niche in the marketplace for a more supernatural skill-set.  Garden Coaches have been around for awhile now, but I think a reputable Garden Coach/Exorcist or Garden Sorcerer could get a fair bit of business. 

I definitely need one.

13 thoughts on “ISO Garden Exorcist

  1. I’ve run across such things in a few gardens I’ve worked on over the years. An exorcism may be the one thing that would have helped. That and excavating 18″ of soil and replacing the first 15″ with clean fill dirt mixed with top soil (so that it doesn’t settle too much) and topping with 3″ Leafgro tilled in. But why do all that work when exorcism would be so much more fun.

    • Exactly, Carolyn. The process you describe horrifies me far more than evil spirits. The one plant that seems to grow there is hosta…so my choices are 1) replace soil 2) exorcism 3) become a hosta collector

  2. I love a good mystery, and this one is a classic. I hope you do find out what is occurring. Your blog title is blackwalnut dispatch… is there an evil alleopathic walnut near that spot? Or underground forces (specifically voles)? I kept losing a patch of evening primrose, which is invasive, aggressive and thuggish but would not grow much less spread in one spot in my garden. It turned out there was a vole highway right there and they appreciated the snacks I provided.

    • Laurrie,
      Yes there are black walnuts all over the place, but I get the same plants to grow elsewhere, so unless the juglone is super-concentrated in this area, I don’t *think* that’s it. Haven’t considered the voles…I haven’t seen any holes or mounds or anything but it’s worth looking into. Thanks!

  3. I also wanted to ask if a walnut had once occupied that spot. It may be gone, but its roots are still there. Also, if this spot is near your property line or gets runoff from off the property, it may be a neighbor’s systemic herbicide and/or soil sterilant to blame.

  4. I wondered where *this* post title was going to go! That would be a great service to offer, for sure. Especially if it does not involve a wagon, a top hat, and some magic dirt!

  5. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one! I’ve got one of those spots too and it’s driving me mad, I can’t figure it out! Anything I plant there grows incredibly stunted and puny, I even brought in new soil and replanted and it’s still crap. It’s gotta be spirits!

  6. I would try planting obedient plants (Physostegia virginiana) or chocolate mint before hiring the exorcist. It pretty much takes witchcraft to get rid of either one.

    Or maybe this is a good place for a nice little shed, a brick patio, and bench.

      • The shed and patio, definitely. Obedient plant, yes, according to the two websites I just looked at (it’s a native plant too). Chocolate mint, probably, if it’s a bright part shade. (Both plants are from the mint family.) In full disclosure, I once planted a couple of little pots of chocolate mint, went away for two years, and then found it all the way around my pond. I finally had to nuke it with 2x strength Roundup. So I would make sure your area is really haunted first — or start with one 4″ pot and watch it carefully.

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