Last summer after budworms mercilessly devoured my geraniums AGAIN I finally threw in the towel. From then on geraniums and their unwelcome pals, budworms, were verboten on my terrace. Years before I had already thrown in the towel on petunias for the very same reason. Budworms: those evil pests that would insidiously devour my flower buds from the inside as a first course, then turn into fat green caterpillars that would greedily gobble every blossom, then every shredded leaf in sight.

Numerous gardeners have apparently recently experienced this familiar budworm invasion, judging from all the visits to Murder among the Geraniums, my post about last year’s budworm battle.

Over the years I’ve thrown everything at those crawly green devils: soapsuds, beer, garlic, tobacco juice and what I hoped was a final funeral spray composed of water, mashed garlic cloves, onion powder, dish detergent and vegetable oil. To all, the uppity little critters stuck out their tongues and went merrily on their way chomping on their flower feast. The one thing I didn’t use was insecticide, mainly because the marauders had to actually eat the stuff, which I couldn’t see happening with them invisibly hiding inside flower buds. But last August after years of solicitous loving care and umpteen dollars down the terrace drain, I was finally finished. No more petunias and geraniums for this city gardener. And hopefully no more budworms.

With limited botanical knowledge, I hit the Internet to search for flowers that welcomed full sunlight for most of the day. This turned out to be a long list with many flowers I had never heard of. So off I went to the green market on 14th Street to check out the potted plants. It was Memorial Day weekend and the selection was already thin. As always when shopping, I looked over every possible offering before final selection. I had never considered dahlias before and was surprised at their wide variety and color. The dahlias that appealed to me most had thick white petals and gold centers that reminded me of daisies.

Before replanting them in a larger pot, I washed the old pot in my tub to remove any lurking larvae or trace of budworm inhabitation. I also researched any possible pests that might appear on the dahlia scene. This list sounded fairly innocuous and best of all, didn’t include that scourge called you know what. But the summer is early. We shall see…

In the meantime, how is your garden growing this summer?


More summer fare: