Still Going…

That last rain really tricked me.  It tricked the lawn as well, a green shimmer appeared and of course I thought it would be extremely generous to run the mower over to pick up some of the dead leaves and trash and then spray some liquid feed.  Silly me.  The rains stopped and things are back to wilting, and I’m back to watering, but at least it’s been cool the last few days as a respite to our usual baking.

ipomoea nils fuji no murasaki

Slowly the Japanese morning glories are coming into bloom.  Ipomoea nils ‘Fuji no Murasaki’ is amazing and hasn’t been as invasive a seeder as other morning glories tend to be… unless you’re someone I gave seeds to and recently cursed me for giving you such a weed… so your results may vary.

Despite the return to dry, it’s still not as bad as it was, and still not as brutal as it could be.  I think I just like complaining, plus on top of that it’s just boring.  Super boring since just about everything is just sitting there waiting for water.  There are three things though, which could count as somewhat interesting.  First are the container plantings, which thanks to the drip irrigation are doing fairly well… in spite of a haphazard fertilization schedule, and the second is the patch of cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) which looks great, but causes nonstop hummingbird conflict as one sneaks in for a sip just as another one or two come down in a screeching dive bomb to fight them off.  People love hummingbirds but all I see are little featherpuffs of rage, and when one comes up and gives me the hovering stare-down of death for sitting too close to their lunch, I stare right back… but don’t dare say a word lest it triggers a torrent of anger from the little monster.

lobelia cardinalis flower

The Lobelia cardinalis does really well here in the shade of the house, far enough away from the life-sucking red maple roots.  I did water a bit but not as much as you’d think.  

So that’s two things, and for the third I’ll nominate the paniculata hydrangeas.  They get a drink of water once things get bad enough to wilt, but other than that they just look awesome and make me seem like a gardening genius.  Never mind the zinnias which are struggling and the surprise lilies which only surprise me by not dying, these hydrangeas are full of fat, fresh, flower-packed trusses of bloom.

hydrangea paniculata seedling

The worst of the dried up rudbeckia triloba has been cropped out, leaving only the joy of budding hydrangea blooms.  ‘Limelight’ is in the background, this is just a seedling which somehow managed to evade my super vigilant weeding long enough to look like something.

I’m considering adding a variety which fades to pink.  ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ was in here but had to be moved for the construction, and for some reason I didn’t like the way it looked around ‘Limelight’ anyway.  The pure white of V. Strawberry seemed just too white for all the yellows and chartreuse and then it was in a bad spot anyway, where the heat and dry would brown the blooms, rather than let them go pink.  It’s been replanted next door and to be honest I want it back even if it doesn’t fit in.  Maybe I’ll take some cuttings today, my mother in law loves it so there’s no way I’m getting the original plant back.

hydrangea limelight

Limelight in the back yard around the potager.  Obviously the phlox which was supposed to be moved years ago is still there and still doesn’t look nice alongside the hydrangea, but at least the boxwood is on its way to recovery after last winter’s run in with the bulldozer.

So three things are ignoring the dry and marching right through August in beautiful shape.  There are more bits and pieces looking good but as I said they’re mostly waiting for rain and I also just like to complain.  Now for example I shall complain that the dentist’s office still hasn’t called back to schedule my root canal and the gray skies have not produced anything more than a sneeze of useless mist.  Oh well.

Have a great week regardless.  These will be the sweet memories that come up in February when the only thing growing are the icicles off the gutter.

Annabelle

It was a dry spring, but based on the weather pattern we’re in now it won’t be a dry summer.  That’s fine with me since I hate watering, but others with different summer plans will disagree.  I took advantage of a break in the rain today and finally cut the grass.  Pretty much everything is lush and thick due to the extra water and the hydrangeas are no exception.

I grow “Annabelle” in a couple places around the yard but here at the edge of the orchard is the plant that seems happiest.hydragea annabelle

I think this plant came from a small shoot I felt bad for and stuck into the ground while planting daffodils.  It does well amongst the weeds and always puts on a great show with these volleyball sized bloom clusters.  “Annabelle” is one of the arborescens type hydrangeas.  Hydrangea arborescens is the species and it’s a different species than the less hardy florist hydrangeas (the blue/pink or purple ones), oakleaf hydrangeas, and the late summer h. paniculata (the big white or pinkish late summer bloomers).  They’re native around here and are commonly found along creeks and streams, just in a little more modest bloom form.  hydragea annabelle“Invincibelle spirit” (pink) and “incrediball” are also arborescens types that have recently come out, but the first has a pink color that I’m not crazy over and the second just hasn’t found its way into my garden yet (it’s supposed to be less floppy).  Arborescens hydrangeas are easy and reliable bloomers.  I cut mine back completely in the spring and that’s about all I do and still get a great show.  Water is about the only thing they might ask for.  Mine are in full sun and in years of less regular rain the plants wilt, die back, and the blooms get crispy edges due to my neglect.

“Annabelle” has been around for a while.  She was found back in 1910 in the wilds outside of Anna Illinois by Harriet Kirkpatrick, and it was her and her sister Amy that brought the original plant into their garden.  After decades of passing along from gardener to gardener “Annabelle” hit the big time in 1962 when she was introduced to the nursery trade.  She’s still a great garden plant.  This is a larger clump that slowly spreads a bit each year via short runners.  If I had a big yard with a little shade I think I’d have to spread these out to fill in a huge swath of white.hydragea annabelle