Same old story, dry again…..

The rains came, the grass greened, and all was well for a few weeks, but now it’s dry again.  I shouldn’t complain though since it hasn’t been hot enough to kill off anything, just a few wilting annuals and sad looking, dry dahlias.  Fortunately the perennials have deep enough roots to carry on, and overall the front yard doesn’t look too bad.

zinnias in a mixed border

The front border may be dry, but there’s still enough color and texture to keep things interesting.  I watered a little after taking these pictures…. the guilt of wilting zinnias and coleus was too much of a weight on my conscience.

When things go dry I start to lose interest.  The plants look sad and I hate watering, so my daily inspections just turn into bored sighs and a quick return to the porch furniture or air conditioning.  It’s a shame since so many things are still peaking and a little water would do a world of good for my thin quick-to-dry “topsoil”.

sedum spectabile brilliant

The sedums (maybe sedum spectabile “Brilliant”?) are in full bloom with bees galore, and help give some nice solid color to what otherwise might be too busy a planting.

I don’t like a planting that limps into autumn in a half dead state of decay.  I want something that hangs on until the last hard freeze forces things to come crashing down to an end.  In the front yard that means a mix of long season “lingerers”, late perennials, grasses of course, and plenty of planted and self sown annuals.

late season flower border

It’s mostly green in this border in June, but the color really revs up in September.   The yellow rudbeckias in bloom now came up as seedlings in June (when I finally got around to weeding and dividing and planting my way through this bed).

Occasionally some of the earlier perennials take a second bow.  This clump of delphiniums was great in June (for a few days before strong winds flattened them all), but now they’re back for some late season color.

rebloom on delphinium

Green grass, full borders, and rebloom on the delphinium.  The next storm will surely flatten them (again) but for now this corner by the garage is a nice welcome home.  This picture is looking out from the garage, across the walk to the front door, and on to the front border along the street.

The beds along the house are ok too, but much calmer.  This year I tried to limit the usual “too much color” look and stick with more gray and blue tones with some yellow of course.  The red coleus just happened…. you know I can’t go cold turkey when there is open soil and a few extra plants in my hands 🙂

ranch house foundation planting

The plants are a little spotty, but the overall effect is much calmer than last year…. even with a couple clumps of orange mums coming along 🙂

I guess a bright accent by the front door is sorta acceptable.  This almost became the year of the geranium considering how two pots overwintered became eight big plants when divided.  I really shouldn’t, but maybe I can just roll this pot into the garage and hope for the best when winter kicks in.  I’ve already got nearly a billion plants coming in so what’s one more pot?

potted geraniums

Potted geraniums, a perfect container plant for gardeners with a less than perfect watering record. Seeing the blue leadwort (ceratostigma) blooming reminds me that I wanted to try a few colchicums here.

So the front garden is aging gracefully and as long as a little rain comes our way it should still be a nice, colorful fall.  Seeing the pot full of geraniums reminds me of some developments this year which could now become an ugly problem.  My containers have been multiplying and it might be time for some plant confessions.

20 comments on “Same old story, dry again…..

  1. Pauline says:

    Your borders are so colourful, they look fantastic. You have made me realise that I must water more if we have no rain for some time and just hang the expense! I love the bright spot of colour from your coleus, and your pot of geraniums. Your delphiniums are looking very good, they are lovely at a smaller size. I’ll bet your neighbours like walking or driving past your garden!

    • bittster says:

      Any bright spots of color are welcomed by me, even the dandelions in springtime!
      I don’t really know what my neighbors think. So many of them are content to look at mulch and lawn, I don’t even know if they notice the flowers…. Actually the only comments I ever here are ‘too bad the flowers don’t last longer’ and ‘it sure is a lot of work’. I think I’m loving in a sea of negativity!

  2. Annette says:

    Stunning and very colourful! I love that long border along the road – what a magnificent Hydrangea and a nice blend of contrasting colours and textures. It doesn’t look thirsty at all. We’ve had regular rain this summer which made things a lot easier for me but it’s getting very dry at present as summer seems to have arrived…

    • bittster says:

      Haha, it’s about time summer got here! It’s funny but we had a burst of summer last Saturday and I was completely unimpressed. I enjoy cooler weather.
      I was happy to get some rain this summer but now as I’m looking at the lawn in need of mowing I’m seeing the downside….
      Unless I get rid of more lawn, that’s a possible solution 🙂

  3. Christina says:

    I laughed at your slip of the tongue! saying “the last hard frost” when you meant the first! Thinking of spring already, and I don’t blame you after the hard winter you had last year. Love the border with the hydrangea, it all looks really good together. I’m thinking I should use geraniums in pots that get any sun at all as otherwise they don’t ever stay looking good; under the wisteria I’m hoping to build up some pots with mainly foliage I already have 2 pots of Fatsia japonica which are looking great – a plant that thrives in dry shade – perfect!

    • bittster says:

      I’m with you on the pots, the less trouble the better and I hate seeing them die a long anguished death over the summer. I would second geraniums as a choice for spots that get dry, they do well here even if I forget now and then….. But we don’t get your heat.
      I have a big pot of miscanthus on the deck which is looking good foliage wise (it does get plenty of water), but my stars are the succulents. In sun to part sun they soldier along taking the water I give them and shrugging off any longer dry spells. I don’t think you need anymore grays but in your garden but in mine the grays stand out as well as the brighter oranges, rusts and other colors.

  4. Chloris says:

    You have a wonderful late summer garden with so much colour. As Annette says there is a fantastic blend of colour in the border with the Hydrangea. I don’ t know how you keep everything looking so good when it gets so hot and dry.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Chloris (or shall I say Liz, as someone else has let the cat out of the bag!) I enjoy the front border since it’s so visible when you’re sitting in the porch. I’ve been trying to work in mostly drought tolerant plants and for the most part limit the water hogs to isolated areas. Plus when posting a picture I crop out the failures…. you always get a death here and there 🙂

  5. Cathy says:

    I think your garden looks amazingly healthy and colourful after the dry summer you’ve had. Really lovely having a delphinium flower again. And the red coleus is fabulous! I have the same problem with shallow stony soil in one half of the rockery and everything just frazzles and dries up there. I am going to try some kind of mulch next year, if I can manage to catch the right moment after the soil has warmed up and before everything starts growing. Have you ever tried any kind of mulching?

    • bittster says:

      I did try mulching when the bed was new. It was a nice layer of shredded wood and looked great for a while but my moving things around ended up digging the mulch under in only a short while. I wish I had a nice supply of shredded leaves or compost…..
      If I could convince myself to spend the money I would buy more wood mulch, but the money could be so much better spent on plants! I guess I’m stuck with the extra watering!

  6. There’s no such thing as “too much color”, in my humble opinion! I also did not enjoy that little burst of summer we had last week! At least we’re getting some rain today, and the forecast for next week is pretty cool. Your border is pretty–I like the coleus near the Rudbeckia. I like the grasses behind the zinnias in your top picture, too. I have negative neighbors too, coming over, clucking their tongues, warning me about all the work I’m giving myself. Do they think I would do al of this if I didn’t enjoy it?

    And now you’ve reminded me that I need to add potting up the geraniums for the winter to my list of things to do. Thanks a lot! : )

    • bittster says:

      Sorry, didn’t mean to give you more work 🙂
      Overall I think the perennial and shrubs are less work if the right kinds go in…. I tend to plant too many annuals and they’re the ones which take up my time.
      If you compared my lawn time to my plants time the lawn would probably come up as more work…. It’s just that the grass is no-brainer work while the plants take more thought.
      I’m sure you ignore the neighbors just like I do. If I wanted no work I’d have stayed single, no kids, and rented an apartment, I chose all of the above because they’re worth it!

  7. Benjamin says:

    We also suffer from rampant container propagation…but I always rationalize by knowing we will always suffer a few breaks over the course of the season. As long as there’s space, there will be pots 😉

  8. pbmgarden says:

    It’s frustrating when the rains are sporadic, but you have done great job with your plantings. The delphinium must seem like a real treat (I’ve had no success with them at all). The big burst of read coleus gives a nice punch I think. susie

    • bittster says:

      I am pretty pleased with the delphinium, it bloomed better than ever after the harsh winter so I’m thinking it liked that, and now that we had a cooler summer it’s also responded well.
      If someone would gift me a vacation cottage up north I’m sure I could repeat his show every year!

  9. Paula says:

    Beautiful! Do I see rudbeckia hirta’s from my seed 😉

    • bittster says:

      Yes you do!
      Of course I still need to get some of the new goodies in the ground… I have some of your asters which spent all summer suffering along in a four inch pot. It’s time they got the attention they deserve and find a permanent home.
      I was thinking about the ‘Midwinter fire’ last night. It drug itself through transplant and drought and should look ok this winter, but next winter should be amazing! Hmmmm, maybe I should start a few snowdrops around it now 🙂

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