I heard the cicada’s mating song last Saturday. Afterward, I read about the red-eyed menace interrupting golf games, delaying air travel, and creating cloudy spots on radar.

Sure, you can’t believe everything you hear and read, and Michigan’s cicada population isn’t what it is further south. Nonetheless, I prayed, “Oh Lord, not here, please.”

The following day, a solitary grasshopper showed up on the vintage settee I bought in Almont years ago. I stopped. Looked up. And listened for bugs.

For I’ve fought the good fight this summer digging up invasive species that blew in from Heaven knows where. I’ve applied a foliar spray on all perennials, aiming at aphids and larvae.

As Richardson Wright says in his Gardener’s Bed-Book for August 14, “Slay that foe, and the others you can take care of with your left hand.”

True. My left hand held the two gallon RL Flomaster while my writing hand held a wand spraying a recipe of water, Neem Oil, Castile Soap, Liquid Fish, and kelp. I laid down the wand and handpicked Japanese Beetles from hibiscus leaves. Due to deer nibbles again, this pink shrub flowers late this summer.

For as a healthy human body fights disease and injury with better results than one malnourished, a well-fed plant better overcomes deer abuse, aphids, molds, and mildews to produce beautiful blooms.

Take the red drift rose for instance. For the first time in a decade, her canes claim new territory with leaves and miniature blossoms in testimony to persistent TLC.

Matter of fact, every rose bush on this hill flourishes again except one. And Flo and I plan to visit this blushing favorite later for a little chat and smelly bath.

The primary garden concerns, however, are mildew and black spot rapidly spreading amongst the peonies. Not just any peonies, mind. My mother donated several roots of her light pink variety from her Kentucky home when we first moved here thirty-two years ago. The peonies grew like wildlings, bloomed without a care in the world.

Now, from what I’ve read, this lovely paeonia family needs both right and left hand for their cure. And a strong, patient heart.

Oh, and a stock of the recipe’s ingredients.

Will these efforts and cash save Mom’s favorite spring cultivar from destruction? Some experts I’ve consulted think not.

Well, hope prevails. You see, two springs past I filled Flo with the recipe’s nutrients and exterminated the worm produced by the common columbine sawfly. Not one worm showed itself on a leaf this spring.

And to my pleasant surprise, the columbine’s companions sprouted taller and bloomed more abundantly than any season in the garden’s history. The feverfew reached three feet like thick shrubs while clusters of wild geraniums bloomed in succession at its feet.

Thus I conclude, dear Reader, if I’m a faithful sprayer, the peonies will drink Flo’s stinky tonic like good medicine. I hope they follow the columbine and red drift rose’s example.

We’ll know next spring before the cicadas sing.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.