It appears a little catching up needs to be done. A gardener’s life is always hectic in the spring but for a while I was doing just fine keeping up. Not to brag but this spring was exceptionally well under-control, with weeding and seeding and cutting and moving all happening close to when they should… something that has never happened in years prior here at the sorta ‘burb. I was even halfway close to getting all the new purchases into the ground within days of buying them, rather than nearly killing them two or three times before planting. Let me tell you it’s amazing what a difference that makes! But then the blahs hit. Relentless mowing and trimming and spider mites and weeds and the whole ‘what’s the point’ thought process set in as June turned into July and the temperature and humidity tag teamed each other to new heights. When you reach the end of your ‘around the garden weeding tour’ only to find yourself at the start of the next ‘around the yard weeding tour’ it can get a little discouraging, and to be honest that’s where I left off. Most of the new plants and annuals were in the ground, the automatic drip lines to the container plantings were working, all the insects were well fed… so off to the pool, a weekend at Omi and Opa’s, some porch sitting, and then a week off to Disney to realize how good I had it all along. Miles of trudging through 100F+ heat indices and then waiting on lines for every foreseeable human need can change a person, and I have returned renewed. Here are a few late June/ early July highlights to begin my return to gardening. 😉
This post may seem entirely random because it is. I don’t bother taking pictures when I’m disgusted with the garden so all the last few weeks can offer are a few furtive scurries outside when I felt like I had to get a few pictures onto the camera even though I knew there wasn’t much worth documenting.
Speaking of documenting, I do have to tally up another $33 for two amazingly grown, full of buds, Japanese iris which I bought for myself as a Father’s Day gift. I know I shouldn’t count them since they were a gift, but being that I was surprised with an actual gift certificate the next day I guess I shouldn’t push my luck so onto the 2018 tally they go.
Add on a random tornado that touched down about seven miles down the interstate. That’s the second one in about two years, kind of bizarre considering no one remembers ever having tornados here before.
Then the heat and humidity descended. Heat for us means upper nineties so if the Southerners can excuse a little whining I just want to say it felt really hot. Not hot enough to scorch the lawn yet (and spare me from all the mind numbing mowing) but it was hot enough to wake up every bug and blight and get them energized and inspired enough to take on the plant world.
The big grasses are one of the plants which seem to thrive on heat and dry spells.
One plant which did not appreciate the humidity were the hollyhocks (Alcea rosea). As the flowers began to open up from the bottom of the seven foot stalks, the orange spots of rust followed behind, creeping from leaf to leaf. Just for the record I don’t remember rust on hollyhocks being such a plague years ago when my mother grew these. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that this is some new strain which came into the country somewhere along the line, and has ended any hopes of fungicide-free hollyhock growing on the East Coast.
A garden which actually enjoys some heat and humidity is the tropical bed. The cannas have yet to take off but given a little water and fertilizer I know they will (and I’m even more confident about that since this photo dates back to the end of June).
I would guess there are plenty of hot and dry spots in South Africa, so it doesn’t surprise me that the prickly daisy flowers of Berkheya purpurea look fresh and happy opening up in the heat. I haven’t quite figured out yet why I like thistly plants, but this prickly, perennial mess is one of my favorites!
Another mess which absolutely thrills me is the meadow garden. In early July the grass is just beginning to dry off, and the golden rudbeckia and orange butterfly weed fill it up with color -even if golden rudbeckia are one of my least favorite colors.
I leave you with one last bit of randomness. I’ve been nursing a ‘Chuck Hayes’ gardenia along since picking it up at the nursery late last summer. I tried the same thing the year before but of course killed it just as it was about to bloom, but second time must be the charm. With the new plant I carefully did nothing other than take it into the garage to escape the worst of the winter, and then water just enough to keep it alive. No silly fertilizing, or repotting, or anything else that would mess with the healthy plant that I had, all I did was wait patiently as it set buds and then finally decided to open up a few which had been forming all spring. On the first day of the most brutal, heavy, enveloping humidity ‘Chuck Hayes’ opened a bloom and filled the air with his Southern perfume, and it was just like I hoped it would be.
And then the blahs hit. It’s really not as bad as it sounds since I’ve already seen the other side, but to make a long story short, the garden survives.
$33 worth of gifts to myself
$738 total so far for the 2018 gardening year.