Some Like it Hot

I have to confess, I find white to be a little boring.  Much of that has to do with all the white vinyl fences and railing and trim which abounds in my part of town, and the competition it provides to any white flower which tries to do its own thing in my yard, but it’s also probably too tasteful for me.  Anyway, my garden is also mostly full sun, and unless it’s the moon shining down, white can become a glare, and any other colors cooled by white into pastels are also lost to the sun.  Hot colors on the other hand, can put up a fight.  Bright reds and golds, yellows and hot pinks, intense purples… these are the colors I love to see when I look out upon a yard baking in the afternoon sun, preferably from the other side of a window… comfortably cooled by air conditioning.

lucifer crocosmia

‘Lucifer’ crocosmia is red.  Very red. A you-can’t-ignore red.  I think I need a few other crocosmias…  

Today it was mostly hot, but it was absolutely humid and sometimes that’s worse.  I cut the grass, was drenched in sweat, but not much else happened and I was fine with leaving it at that.

foundation perennial bed

I finally like the front foundation beds.  The ‘Tiger Eyes’ sumac is probably too chartreuse and too weedy for a respectable foundation planting but blue spruce and blue fescue are definitely suburbia approved.  

Even with the heat and humidity I did try and get the last of the weeding done.  That sounds good but of course I’ve already got to re-visit the weeds in the beds where I first started, and the rains aren’t slowing anything down other than the gardener.

yellow spider daylily

One of the few daylilies I have, a yellow spider daylily who’s name I can’t think of right now.  I think spiders and the more simple singles are my favorites, the ruffly explosions of color with ridges and teeth are more a curiosity to me than anything I need to grow. 

A slow gardener shouldn’t surprise anyone, and this one’s about ready to stop completely, call it a year and just sit back to watch things rather than try and exert any more control.  We’ll see.

rudbeckia verbena bonariensis

I’m always happy to see a few Gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia hirta) pop up.  The surprise ones always do much better than any I try to plant on purpose, and they always put themselves amongst good companions, Verbena bonariensis and Lychnis coronaria in this case.

Actually with vacation season approaching the sitting back part will be even easier, and that’s usually when all control is lost.

rudbeckia maxima

Pulled weeds on the lawn, not as effective as I’d like sheets on the blueberries, and Rudbeckia maxima three days away from flopping.  For all my talk about weeding and control, this is the reality.  

The local wildlife seems to enjoy the messiness and I’m happy to see that, even if it means more and more baby bunnies eating the coreopsis while I watch.  Actually I was also enjoying watching all the bird activity until I realized it was the blueberries and gooseberries which were entertaining them.  I guess my netting problems are still not even close to being foolproof but no matter, who wants to pick all those delicious berries anyway?

On the down side the birds seem to really enjoy retiring to the bath apres dinner, so the pond is always a mess of splashing and berry vomit and whatever else comes out the other end so it’s not nearly as nice as some of the other amazing garden ponds I’ve seen.  Maybe someday a (clean) mountain creek plus koi pond will grace this garden but right now I’m absolutely thrilled with the dirty little sump which I call the pond, because in spite of the duckweed and murk I have something far better than koi.  I have tadpoles.  Finally.  Since building it I’ve been hoping “The Pond” would bring in a couple frogs or toads and this year in spite of a healthy population of mosquito devouring aquatic water beetles, eggs have survived and now tadpoles are sprouting legs.  I love it and in moments like this I realize what a nerd I am.

garden pond

The pond.  Probably the first part of the garden I check each day.

So I’m way off the ‘hot’ theme but whatever.  Let’s just wander out front again to see some of the amazing cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) which are just days from flowering.  These are much cooler than they are hot and each day I have to touch them just to verify again how solid and spiny they are.  I like them and I bet when they go to seed the goldfinches will also like them… even if these artichoke relatives are a little bigger than their usual thistle meals.

cardoon flower

Cardoons just about to flower, with a conveniently placed ‘Royal Purple’ smokebush (Cotinus) backdrop. 

If the goldfinches like thistle seed then the cyclamen must be making the ants happy.  Cyclamen purpurascens are showing up all around the base of our ant-infested cherry tree and I suspect the ants take the seeds in, nibble off the sugary coating, and then discard the seeds down the sides of the tree.  Works for me, I would have never considered planting them in such a dark, rooty location.

cyclamen purpurascens

Cyclamen purpurascens ringing the base of the weeping cherry.  They’re just starting their summer bloom season and soon a few new leaves should be up as well.

Back to the hot theme.  I’m not sure if I mentioned, but 2021 is the year of the caladium, and a five pound box of tubers from Caladiumbulbs4less (quite the subtle company name) have been potted up and are just loving the semi-tropical weather.  I love them almost as much as the tadpoles, and when the tadpoles sprout their legs and hop off to new frontiers at least I’ll have my caladiums.

starting caladiums

The driveway nursery is full of excitement as the mixed bulbs come up and show their colors.  I spend way too much time examining every new leaf, but someone’s got to.  

In case you’re wondering, five pounds of mixed caladiums is much more than this garden needs, but just about right for what this garden wants.  87 corms would be a pretty good guess of how many caladiums were planted, but I’m sure to actually repeatedly count them would be a little obsessive.  Obsessive would also be ordering mixed bulbs but then potting them all up individually so that later on you can plant all the similar forms together… and then running individual drip lines to all of them.  Amazing how obsessive can easily co-exist with lazy as long as you buy enough drip emitters, but it has to be done since cool weather and drying-out are the biggest dangers to an excellent 2021 caladiumfest.

Alocasia Dark Star

Another heat and humidity lover, Alocasia ‘Dark Star’ is starting to put weight on again after a really lean winter. 

I’m sure you’ll hear way too much about the year of the caladium so I’ll end it here, but I do enjoy seeing them revel in the warmer weather and nearly daily thunderstorms so I could really go on and on if I had to.  In any case it sure beats a drought.

Have a great week, hot or not.

23 comments on “Some Like it Hot

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    It has been pretty hot and humid lately, that’s for sure. The daily rain is quite tropical as well. Perfect weather for your plants that love that. Sadly, the weeds love it, too, and I can barely keep up with them. I race to yank them before they set seed, multiplying the task for next year. Rabbits continue to plague us here, too. What a season this summer is turning out to be! Still, much better than January any day!

    • bittster says:

      Oh. Yeah, pulling weeds before they seed is very much a work in progress rather than a policy. Curly dock is one that I really try to get and remove the seed heads from the garden, but everything else is more of a hope for the best kind of thing. I don’t think I have any chance of ever reducing the seed bank so I try to mulch as much as possible and hope that cancels out all the things which manage to seed.
      If I knew we’d get so much rain I would have started more annuals and had a year of the zinnia 🙂 but to be honest the two kinda I planted don’t look like they will ever leave their seed bed so maybe I’m just kidding myself that I’d of done anything differently!

  2. We are in a nice little cool weather break which is good as I am in my midsummer digging and moving and replanting frenzy. Love the Crocosmia and the cardoons with those dark purplish brown colors behind. I am worried about my Cyclamen as it has been so hot and dry that I don’t know if they will show or if they are even alive. And I completely agree with you about the double and ruffled daylilies. Spiders are a lovely form. Looking forward to more Caladium craziness!

    • bittster says:

      We never got the cool break and things had to go in before vacation season starts so both I and the plants had to sweat it out. I don’t think anything has died yet but there’s still time 😉 I suspect I’m risking a much smaller investment with my careless planting, much of what went in were bits and pieces I started from seed or cuttings, or were gifts or impulse buys. Most of the fancier stuff went in a few weeks prior, when the weather was much more garden (and gardener) friendly. I sure wouldn’t turn down a cool break though, there’s always another thousand things to do… plus I still have a summer project in mind!

  3. jeanettemadden says:

    Thanks for sharing your photos today. I LOVE your foundation planting even if some people may think the sumac is too weedy. Any I’m in love with caladiums. I don’t have as many as you do, but I have a few on my front porch, and they are a joy.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks 🙂 Obviously it doesn’t matter how many caladiums you have, as long as they make you happy… and btw I was told today I had too many! -and you can probably guess where I filed that comment lol

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Fun to tour around your garden. You poke fun at yourself but really everything looks amazing. I actually am kind of done with the garden this year but hope I’ll find a moment of inspiration at some point. Love that last photo with Alocasia ‘Dark Star’–great garden view.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I don’t blame you for taking a break now that things have warmed up. I feel like you really did a lot this season and seem to be enjoying the garden again… and it looks great!
      Time to kick back a little and see how the butterflies and other visitors enjoy it as well.

  5. Lisa Rest says:

    Love the thought of tadpoles! We have had rain and cooling down and we are going back to hot and humid again…and I am amazed at how everything I trimmed back shows absolutely no respect for the order I tried to create four weeks ago before my yard was on a garden walk. I am not a fan of working out in the heat either but looking forward to shorter, cooler days already. There’s something almost oddly reassuring about knowing plants would take over if left to their own devices… gives me more respect for them. Back to the wild riot of color. Love it.

    • bittster says:

      I often wonder what kind of an explosion of growth would happen if this gardener left the scene. I think it would be unrecognizable after three or four years, but I’d hope a few troopers would settle in and still make it an interesting place.
      Of course if someone else took over, I’m sure it turn into boring turf again, but I’d prefer not to think of that.
      Either way it’s relentless the way the garden fights every trim and every open space!

  6. Some plants love the heat, humidity, and daily rain, others do not. For the first time in my life I have a hosta rotting on me. And my very first inflorescence of Arisaema candidissimum rotted a week after I took a picture of it. But, as you say, better than a drought.

    • bittster says:

      Tell me about it… I spent the first couple years here creating a garden that could handle searing drought and relentless sun, and then the patterns shifted and it’s like a monsoon each summer. The bearded iris are not at all pleased.
      My Arisaema candidissimum barely survives from year to year so even a rotted inflorescence makes me a little envious 🙂

  7. Cathy says:

    Sounds like our weather too – very humid with regular thunderstorms. Your obsession for Caladiums is understandable and if I ever see one here I will definitely give them a go. 😃 The Crocosmias are great, whether orange or red, and I like the yellow ones too but they are harder to find here. You must post some photos of when your tadpoles get to the stage where they hit land and run off. The foundation planting looks really good with the contrasting shades of dark silvery green and lime green. Hope you get to enjoy some of your berries! Stay cool!

    • bittster says:

      Can you believe that nearly all the tadpoles disappeared in the seven days we were gone? I didn’t think the legs would sprout that fast but only a few are left and I can’t imagine something gobbling the rest up that fast after they’ve been in there for the last month. Fortunately I did see a half dozen tiny tree frogs around the garden over the last few days so I think they’re out and about finding their way as frogs.
      Oh and yes, it seems they’re tree frogs, even though I did see a wood frog move into the pond a couple weeks ago and thought they might be a relative coming back to see the little ones.
      I might have to try a few more crocosmia. I found an online source and what could be the harm of adding a handful just to experiment 😉

  8. Paddy Tobin says:

    I’m sure you will snigger at my complaints of heat and humidity here in Ireland but I am feeling the strain. It has reached over 20C (68F) on several days recently and I am presently indoors avoiding the heavy work which is waiting me outside – to finish cutting back a hedge by about two feet. In hopes of eliciting sympathy and understanding I should explain that Irishmen melt at 21C – a known fact and can only be avoided by the taking of large/largish volumes of beer.

    • bittster says:

      I hope you had enough beer to stave off the suffering! I’ve only seen bits and pieces of your struggles with the heat, but it looks like you’ve been through the worst of it… until it gets worse again 😉
      I don’t think you would have liked our beach vacation. Searing sunshine and hot pavement and sand underfoot. They were even encouraging hard liquor and mixed drinks rather than the comfort of a beer, so it must be pretty bad. I went down pink and came back browned, kind of like a Christmas turkey out of the oven, but now it feels downright cold here after our tropical break.
      I also saw a lot more plants that might be fun to play around with during the heat of summer. The threat of all kinds of detectors and searches and plant-sniffing dogs kept me honest, but that doesn’t stop me now from searching online and wondering if the postage is worth it 🙂

  9. Your foundation planting and pond look good. Congats on the tadpoles, that’s very cool. Sadly many of my Caladiums never recovered from the cold snap we had at the end of May.

    • bittster says:

      Ahhhh! Your caladiums always look so good! I hope they still come back this year as the temperatures continue to sit in the hot end for a few more weeks. I feel like mine are only really getting started now.

  10. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I love those hot colors too. I do like a splash of white here and there. This time of year my garden leans toward green so that white does stand out here and there. I really prefer a pale pink to a white. It brings light into dark corners and yet a bit of color. I have also discovered that orange is great in shade or semi-shade. Your collection of caladium will be nice when they finally start bulking up. It appears that you have some interesting color combos. I have a couple of caladiums this year. One in a pot and one in the ground. They are doing quite well. I haven’t had luck with them in the past. These were already grown up in a pot before I bought them. They have continued to grow and bloom so I am pleased with their efforts and looks. I envy you your tadpoles. What fun to watch.
    I know what you mean about those white fences. UGH… I am sick of seeing them. I was so disappointed when my neighbor took down an old wooden, covered with moss, fence and put one of those white fences. It still seems so garish after being there quite a few years. I doubt I will ever get used to it.

    • bittster says:

      I think white really looks best with some shade, and I don’t always have much of that. But in the little shade that I do have, a clump of orange tiger lilies is doing really nicely, and now that you mention orange looks good in the shade I’m realizing that you’re on to something! I might have to put more orange around and see if I like it just as much.
      I think getting pre-started caladiums might be the way to go for us northerners 😉 Today is the first of August and I only just now finished potting up the ones I have, and it will still be another week or two before they really look good. Maybe I’ll have to get some kind of greenhouse for them. I don’t know if that’s a good enough reason (haha as if there’s any chance I could ever get a greenhouse!)
      Sorry about your fence. I also love the mossy, lichened look of an old fence, even if few others seem to. If you think of a way to hide the white vinyl ones let me know.

  11. There was an article in Newsday last weekend about the record-setting humidity levels this year, and it has been truly brutal. The other day I stood outside COMPLETELY IN THE SHADE for 20 minutes, doing nothing but talking on the phone, and by the time the call ended I had sweat dripping off the ends of my hair and soaking my shirt. I am envious of your Lucifer and if it wasn’t for how big he gets, I’d have one. Several years ago, Terra Nova had a dwarf supposedly-true-red crocosmia called Twilight Fairy Crimson that I’d LOVE to find but no one is selling them anymore (Terra Nova discontinues plants like Disney does for past movies.) There is also a dwarf red variety from Down Under called Zeal Tan but nobody in the USA is selling that either. Murphy’s Law!

    • bittster says:

      Ugh. The humidity. Yes it’s just brutally damp and “close”.
      Here in the “mountains” there’s often some damp cloud hugging a river valley or drifting along a creek bed. You can’t escape it this year!
      Funny you should mention a dwarf crocosmia. I also thought ‘Lucifer’ might be a little too much for where he’s at so I started looking and wondering if more crocosmias were something missing from my life. I never found a yes or no to that answer, but I did see quite a few cool ones at ‘The Lily Garden’. None quite as dwarf or uniquely colored as your targets, but at least these are much easier to source!

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