A Good Soak

A strange thing happened about two weeks ago.  Without any warning or cause, the gardener here snapped out of his lazy spell.  I think it started out of necessity, with plants that were purchase for next door… and weren’t all that cheap and had to be planted before the heat and forgotten waterings took their toll… but then it took on a life of its own.  Weeds were pulled, lawns edged, trees pruned, plants planted.  You’re probably  thinking to yourself ‘well of course, I’ve been doing that since March’, but here that hasn’t been the case.  Here neglect was creeping in.  Here they’re hoping this new gardener stays on and the place is brought back to halfway decent shape.

potager beds

The potager doesn’t look too impressive with its beds of yellowing tulip foliage, but the most rank weeds have finally been pulled and a few legitimate plantings have taken place.  There’s even a nice supply of lettuce coming in as a first harvest.

I’ve noticed that the gardener’s ambition rises and falls with the weather.  Last weekend was cold, and for as much as everyone else was full of complaints and misery, the gardener here was reinvigorated.  “How long have you been out there?  Your cheeks are freezing”  was the question, and “all day” was the response.  Even when the rain was pouring down the gardener was dragging out (way too many) stored bulbs, potting up (way too many) purchased caladiums, and starting (way too many) unnecessary seeds.  I think the gardener knows that there are few if any empty spots to plant, but he doesn’t seem to care.

potager beds

The nicer end of the potager where the gardener would often sit rather than work.  ‘Purple Splash’ is finally settling in and will hopefully scale the arbor, but as of this week the gardener still doesn’t like it.  He claims it’s very nice, but it’s not “beautiful”, and all roses should be beautiful or at least movingly fragrant.

Even if the gardener is getting some work done, he’s still just as easily distracted as ever.

calycanthus aphrodite

Calycanthus x ‘Aphrodite’ is more beautiful in a sculptural way than many roses, but like ‘Purple Splash’ also lacks a decent scent.  It looks like it should be wafting a fragrant cloud across the pepper and tomato plantings, but sadly the gardener smells nothing.

Roses have been a distraction, and even the lazy version of our gardener was spending a good amount of time planting the new ones and fussing over the older bushes.  He misses the scents of iris season, but now when the fruity fragrance of rose drifts by it’s not as bad.

rose westerland

‘Westerland’ is beautiful.  I love the color and am thrilled it see it settling in.

The gardener is hoping that 2021 will be his first exciting rose year since the small cuttings and bareroot plantings of the past two years are finally beginning to amount to something.  I’ve told the gardener that some regular fertilizing and water would do the roses wonders and probably have them topping arbors within a year, but the gardener is stubborn on top of lazy, and the roses are raised “tough”… which you probably know isn’t a thing, it’s just an excuse for them not growing as well as they could.

digitalis mertonensis

The first strawberry foxglove (Digitalis mertonensis) is the one that planted itself right on top of a snowdrop clump.  Foxgloves were one of my first plant fascinations btw.

Not to get distracted yet again but the foxgloves are coming, and although they don’t do well for me, even a poorly grown plant looks exceptional.

digitalis purpurea

The first common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) to survive to blooming in years has me excited, so of course I was crushed to see the wall of foxgloves a friend was enjoying this year… but if seeing nicer gardens is really discouraging I would have quit this years ago!

Of course one lone foxglove in bloom had me imagining all the amazing things the gardener could do with foxgloves so that brings me to the reason I’m enjoying rain while the rest of the country bakes under a bubble of heat.  I was distracted.  I was fantasizing about the latest offerings from the little Rhode Island Nursery known as Issima.  They had a common D. purpurea but with cool grayish foliage and a light fuzz to it, and I hemmed and hawed over D. purpurea ssp. heywoodii long enough that it sold out (which happens rather quickly to this ’boutique’ nursery) so of course I bought other stuff instead.

So I blame indecision for the reason this post has been in progress for four days now.  That and a party at our house for a dozen teen and pre-teen girls and of course other stuff.  There’s always other stuff and it’s usually good, but not always.

Hope your other stuff is good this week 🙂

21 comments on “A Good Soak

  1. Thank you for catching us up. I get more done in the cool spells, too.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, the cool was nice and the heat was becoming tolerable, but now it’s dripping with humidity outside and I’m really not into that at all. Plus it crossed my mind that there were no gnats and now you know what’s sure to show up tomorrow…

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    The temps have been so crazy one weekend to the next… highs in the 40s and a week later 90s. The annuals were in shock, now hopefully, they are reveling in the heat. The gardener, not so much… heat/humidity knocks the stuffing outta me. At least it is light outside after supper, so I try to get a bit done then.
    Do you have the summer off?
    Careful in this heat – stay cool!

    • bittster says:

      I do love the long days, but I keep getting myself into trouble when I come in and it’s already past bedtime and I just told the kids I’ll go in the pool with them!
      Just a few more days and I’ll begin the summer break. It’s been a weird year for sure and I’m ready, even if the humidity just rolled in today and is also ready 😉
      Hope you’re feeling better!

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Loved this post. The chair in the potager looks like it is in a good hiding place. Doesn’t it feel good to get things accomplished in the garden even if you feel lazy and preoccupied by a gaggle of screaming girls.

    • bittster says:

      The chair is an excellent hiding spot, but people are starting to figure it out. I’m hoping the trees on the berm start filling in and in another year or two I can carve out a better hiding spot up there 😉

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Your garden always is full of beautiful plants. My plants all are raised with tough love.

  5. Deborah Banks says:

    I was at the Philadelphia Flower show on Sunday – temps in mid 90’s with high humidity. It was hard to get excited about any of the displays or vendors. I did take a bunch of pictures that came out ok despite the blazing sun, and I bought a ratcheting hand pruner that I’m hoping will be as great as the hype. I was happy to head home on Monday. It is hot an humid here, but not like in PA. It was 84 when I reached Oneonta, and then 79 up on our hill. Ahhh.

    • bittster says:

      … and now we are back to cooler temps. Still better than January though 😉
      79 on the hill, one more reason the primulas love you!
      Mid 90’s sounds terrible for being in the hot sun and trying to enjoy gardens. What bad luck, I guess it’s a good argument for the indoor version though. When I first heard they would do an outdoor show I thought it would be excellent with all the room, natural light and open air but apparently I forgot how up and down the weather here can be.
      Hope the pruners work for you!

  6. Lisa Rest says:

    I’m glad you’re getting rain. I don’t know what it will take to get the clouds to stop over us – apparently Lake Michigan isn’t enough of a draw this year. Cooler is better for this human. I put in some new plants weeks ago with cages around them – I had never done that before but I had to take a stand against the rats – and it does make them easier to find as all the tall plants start crowding everything. I guess the hardest part about gardening is deciding whether something stays or goes. I love your garden. Your work is paying off already.

    • bittster says:

      It just sank in recently how dry it is out there, I didn’t realize that all our rain has been skipping the midwest. I hope that changes before summer really kicks in, I always feel that drought is worse than just about any other weather (except hail and tornadoes of course). Good luck.
      You have rats and I suspect I’ll soon have woodchucks moving in as this year’s crop of young wanders out of the industrial park. There’s a lot to be said for having a big dog living outside and patrolling the yard… although that will never happen here since the yard isn’t nearly big enough, but it’s nice to consider!

      • Lisa Rest says:

        We had two pop-up rain events this past week. The first on Tuesday seemed like a miracle. There was nothing on the radar and then suddenly – a downpour. And then yesterday afternoon same thing, a pop-up thunderstorm delivering 2 inches in 1 hour. The ground was actually wet this morning. So I feel better for the moment! As for the rats, although I haven’t seen any live ones all week, my neighbor’s dog still barks as if she is sensing them so I think I’m not feeding birds for a while. It’s too bad – they seem to need more food during the summer when they’re feeding young. But then I guess I am putting my native plants to the test.

  7. ‘Westerland’ is a beauty! I tried growing it but it succumbed to rose rosette. My energy also varies with the weather. We are in need of a good soak – our official status is “severe drought”.

    • bittster says:

      Rose rosette is my big fear. I’ve seen it in the wild multifloras but so far it’s been quiet here in the garden. I hope some rain comes your way!

  8. Cathy says:

    Flurries of activity are usually linked to the weather in my garden. This gardener tried to get everything done before the heat this year, but it has been hot, thundery and humid for the last two weeks now! The plants are loving all the rain we’ve had. Love those foxgloves. 😃

    • bittster says:

      heh heh. It was beautiful weather here and guess who did nothing?
      We’ve also had more rain and the garden really does love it. New plants are settling in and some of the old ones are bigger than ever. Enjoy it while it lasts, right?

  9. Annette says:

    Your garden looks splendid as always and I don’t believe a word when you say you were lazy up to now 😁. I like that rose, she’s very pretty. Your potager is so neat. It’s the time of year when everything grows like mad and I fear I’ll never get on top of things. I’ve been scything the long grass in the ornamental orchard this morning and have gone into hiding now as it’s already getting very hot. Fingers crossed for rain on Thursday, we need it. Have a good week…and don’t forget to enjoy that bench!

    • bittster says:

      Hi Annette! I hope you’ve had some rain in the meantime. We had some more to soak a little deeper and suddenly today it’s become very cool. I just checked and it’s 14C (57F) with a good wind, and I wouldn’t mind a light jacket. So different from last week.
      I did manage to get some work done last week so I can’t even pretend laziness, but with just a few more areas to weed it’s already time to double back to where I started and do it all over again. Still it’s far better than February 😉

  10. hb says:

    My energy waxes and wanes with the weather also. Hotter = less activity. Hot = no activity. Cold brings a frenzy, but of course cold where I am is not really cold–its ideal for gardening.

    The layout of your potager is so elegant and formal, a bit of old tulip foliage doesn’t mar it at all.

    Yes, every rose should have fragrance, the more the better!

    • bittster says:

      Thank you, that’s nice to say. I can just imagine how “rustic” my potager would look next to your garden! -and the roses as well, your overflowing banks of color are my idea of perfection 🙂
      I’m still working on roses which can handle the higher humidity here and all the moldy, blackspotty, mildewy plagues which come along with that. It’s a fun job though.
      You would love how cold the weather turned in just one day. From a humid 90 to a breezy 57 I could use a sweatshirt out there.

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