Friday, August 27, 2010

End of August

Beautiful day, cool, sunny, in the 70s.

With the inch and a half of rain last Sunday (5 days ago) and the cloudy weather since, everything looks good.  The lawn got fertilized last week, so suddenly it's green and lush.

Bartlett came today for their last visit of the season, and although there are mites on the crocosmia and some of the shrubs, all else looked fine.  Chris showed me how to prune the spruce tree next to the front door.  It is getting barrel shaped, it has multiple leaders after this summer's pine weevil (we cut the top off), and it is simply going to get so huge it will cover the entire walkway and then some.  Next week: prune the whole thing pretty severely!

The clematis by the patio came out today.  Although it is reblooming and the flowers looked nice in the dew, I don't like this one (Bee's Jubilee).  The flowers are an indeterminate pink, sometimes purple, that gets really washed out. An aggressive weed of some kind was wrapped up in it, and when I tried to pull the weed, most of the sparse clematis vine came out with it, so I pulled the whole thing.
I want to try Gravetye Beauty there, or another texensis.

I made cuttings today of some favorite perennials.

Lobelia (the red one.  some earlier cuttings that I stuck when I had moved the plant are already taking).  Add more to the back garden
Physostegia Miss Manners.  Add more to the back garden
Bergenia Rosi Klose.  We'll see if they take.
Asclepias.  The orange butterfly weed.  Add more to the drier parts of the back garden.

Tender Perennials
Coleus Chocolate Drop.  Made 12 to winter over inside and then plant as edgers in Spring.
Salvia, both Lady in Red and Black & Blue.  I'll try wintering them inside, and the parent plants I'll put in the unheated garage in their pots.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sassafras Reconsidered

Cloudy, breezy, damp, in the 60s.  After all this hot dry summer weather, it was too cool and wet last night to sit on the deck when Phil arrived!  He's here for a few days.  Very atypical conditions!

I put a plastic mesh tube around the linden in the circle today to protect it from antler rub.

I reconsidered where to put the little sassafras.  It really should not have been moved so  close to the house.  When Jim and I were up at the Arnold Arboretum for my birthday Saturday, I saw aged mature sassafras trees and they are beautiful but very big, very rangy and not appropriate so close to the house.

Big old sassafras at Arnold Arboretum
So I moved it (again) to the back of the berm where the blackhaw viburnum had been.

I hope it can survive multiple moves.

Monday, August 23, 2010


1.59 inches of gentle, soaking rain, lasting all day yesterday.  Finally.  After an entire summer (June 14 to August 22) of virtually no rain at all.

More expected today.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dew drops

Low 80s, sunny, breezy.  A little too humid to do much in the garden, although I did deadhead and weed.

Just over two tenths of an inch of rain on August 5, and now, August 20, we got less than a tenth of an inch.  But the automatic sprinklers were on last night in addition to our little sprinkle, and this is what it looked like this morning:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I can't keep up

Low 80s today, very overcast and gloomy.  Kind of cool feeling.

I watered today, everything I could reach on the back hill.  40+ trees, shrubs, volunteers, new plants.  I used three 150 foot hoses linked together and tried to get everything.  Not just the small saplings and newly planted things, but even the bigger trees planted 4 years ago.

The good news: the multiflora rose and bittersweet are looking pretty crispy and wilted, really limp (it will all come back next year without missing a beat).  Some of the mature silver maples at the top of the hill have dropping wilted leaves.  They'll survive too, but they do look defoliated and sad now.

 I can't believe it's been an entire summer without rain.  A dry April, but then lots of rain up until June 14.  Then it stopped.  Since June 14 we went for days without rain, then got just 4 tenths, and 2 tenths as the month closed.  Then nothing in July till an inch fell in mid July.

Since then a half inch July 23, and now for the last 26 days we have had 2 tenths of an inch.  That's it, in almost a full month: 2 tenths.

I water, and water, and I can't keep up.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Doppler Disappointments

Windy, 80 degrees, very overcast and cloudy.

This is what I've been tracking all summer.  Not just for a month or a few weeks, but since mid June.  The last 60 days have shown clouds and precipitation hovering near us, but it never arrives.  It's always light precipitation (green color on doppler) and when it gets to the Litchfield hills, it breaks apart, sometimes delivering remnants of rain to the north of us and sometimes regrouping to the south.

This doppler shows what's happening today, August 15.  All day it's been cloudy and windy, with this system to the west of us.  It hasn't really moved much by late afternoon, but is breaking apart.  No rain from this one.  Again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Have I Done??

80 today, but very overcast with a coolish breeze.

On the spur of the moment I decided to move the little sassafras that had been doing so well at the end of the line of buckeyes.  It had been savaged by a rabbit early in spring, but leafed back out and was growing like crazy.  Lots of tiny new leaves, looking good.

I dug it up and moved it to the new garden along the west walk, as the final framing tree at the curve.  I moved the Tradiva hydrangea, previously put there to frame that view, a little forward.  I moved the Russian sage to Meadow's Edge.

All this in mid summer.  The sassafras immediately went into shock and wilted.  What have I done?
Will it recover?  I know I've set it back, but have I killed it??

I did the same thing to the big viburnum prunifolium when I moved it from the spruce berm a couple weeks ago, only worse, I really ripped it out with very few roots, on a hot hot sunny day.  It's been sulking, at least the top leaves have, ever since transplant.  But it might actually settle in...... at times the top leaves look not so limp.

Lots of water for both the sassafras and the blackhaw.  We'll see.

Another sad looking plant is the variegated redbud.  It's a delicate plant, and it went in during the hottest spring and driest hottest summer.  It looks really really bad, you can't even see it against the trees in the background, since its own leaves are so sparse, and brown spotted.

But wait.  What's this?  A new crisp, clean looking pair of leaves has emerged!

Today I also took out a big clump of shasta daisies and a smaller clump of rudbeckia at the patio wall corner, and put in the grape leaf anemone.  Looks very nice there. 

None of this transplanting should be done in mid summer.  This is the time to draw back from the garden and enjoy it, but not mess around moving and planting.  It's bad for the plants, and it's too hot for me.

But I still have so many unfinished plans, with designs still emerging.  We'll be gone for two weeks in September, so I don't want to move things just before we go, and it may be too late in October when we get back.  So I do it now.

By the way, the Birch garden looks good now.  The wild bright yellow coreopsis is reblooming nicely after I sheared it back.  The May Night salvia has decided to rebloom, quite fully.  The small veronicas at the front left edge are blooming well (Bartlett actually sprayed for some kind of fungus).

Different Angles

Still hot and dry.  80s.

I took some shots last night from different angles, looking at the back of the berm or shooting from behind the Meadow's Edge garden

 A whole different look than the one I always see, looking straight out at the yard.

I tried to get a good picture of the really great looking Persicaria affinis 'Dimity', but it's hard.  The interest is an overall one, not an individual bloom or leaf.

Some nice surprises in mid August:  the butterfly weed suddenly rebloomed and looks good, and the Lady in Red salvia in pots is looking good for the first time all summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


90s again, and hot and sticky. No rain. No rain.

I can't take much more of this summer, and every tree and plant looks so awful.  Only 2 tenths of an inch fell in the last 18 days, and before that we were woefully dry with just half an inch since late June.

The landscape trees around the Common are drooping and parched.  A white pine is brown and dead.  I have watered some of the newer trees and shrubs on our back hill, but can't keep up, and I can't get water to the older trees.  In our yard all the new transplants look horrid, and the birch trees have yellowed and dropped half their leaves.

I think everything in the yard will survive --- I've at least watered on occasion, and the sprinklers are wetting most things.  But the back hill I just can't manage.  Every time I try to do anything in the yard I am miserable in the 90 degree heat and humidity ... even early a.m.

We've had a few rare cooler days that were sparkling and lovely, but then immediately the misery comes back.  And every thunderstorm this season has come in a V shape, with rains to the north in Enfield, and rains to the south along the shore, but an open V of absolutely NO rain over Bloomfield and Hartford.  Every storm has had that open area as the clouds formed and rained all around us but stayed clear above us... it's been so weird as I have tracked each event on radar.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Find

Another hot and humid day in the 90s.  I'm losing interest in the garden as I hunker down inside in the a/c.  Still dry, dry, dry.  No rain and hot winds.

However, I was at Home Depot for an errand and came across a find.  I have wanted an Anemone robustissima since I saw this one at Elizabeth Park, just in bloom in early August.

Gwen has one in her garden and it's pretty, not too big, about 3 feet high, although online research says this gets really really big, to 6 feet high and wide.  Hers is quite a bit smaller, in mostly sun.  The Elizabeth Park one is also small, about 4 feet, in shade.  The grape leaf foliage is nice, especially since this doesn't even start flowering until August, so the foliage has to be of interest!

Home Depot had very nice containers, and I picked one up for $10.99.  I really want to put it at the right corner of the patio wall, peeking out around the edge of the wall and coming up over it.  A big Shasta daisy Becky and some rudbeckia have to come out.  It's a sunny spot, and anemones want shade and moisture, although that may make them bigger and more aggressive.

This one, robustissima, is the most adaptable of the Japanese Anemones. The hardiest and the most tolerant of sun and drier conditions.  Cut it back in fall, as the stems blacken in winter.

I also picked up 3 burgundy colored fiberglass containers that were inexpensive.  I'll put the 3 Beni Kaze grasses in them, lined up along the walk where they were planted.  I'll see if keeping them up out of the garden in containers does anything to deter the damn rabbits.  Look what they've done to the grasses... they have looked like this all season:

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Little Rain

Yesterday was high 80s and humid, and finally storms rolled through to break the humidity.  It rained steady and hard for about 5 minutes, but all it amounted to was 2 tenths of an inch.  Nowhere near enough, but at least it softened the hard pack surface earth.

Today: windy, sunny, dry, in the 80s.  I watered what I could reach on the back hill, but the larger trees (big tuliptree, sweetgum, a pin oak) are dropping leaves.

I planted 15 Persicaria affinis Dimity under the Blackhaw viburnum and Lespedeza in the new "near" garden.  They should spread form the same clean green mat groundcover as in Meadow's Edge for repetition and continuity.  15 little plants seemed like a lot but they aren't!

I planted the Tardiva hydrangea in the new garden flanking the west walk.  As it grows to about 12 feet high, it will serve to be the frame at the end of the walk to highlight the maple tree in Meadow's Edge in the distance.
** Still need to extend the end of this new garden to catch the arc of the garden next to it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tom was here

Hot and humid.  Twenty two days over 90 degrees this summer.  Only two were over 90 in 2009, and both of those hot days were in April.  What a contrast this year.

Tom was here from Sunday to Tuesday (he had a wedding in R.I. and then came here).  He was impressed with how much more landscaping there is now --- last time he saw the yard in summer was 2007, even before Meadow's Edge or the Birch Garden were installed.

But everything looked so tired and dry and poopy.  It's been such a tough summer, and it isn't even the dog days of August yet.

Lobelias are blooming, both Ruby Slippers at the patio wall and the red cardinal flower in the far Meadow's Edge.

The dwarf butterfly bush that I thought would not bloom is now in its full flush, and the buddleia Honeycomb out in the Birch Garden is tall and willowy, a nice anchor at the back of that garden even if the flowers are a little too pale to stand out.