Sunday, July 31, 2011


Another sunny, warm but beautiful day, in the low 90s.

Some random observations about the garden:
  • the hostas by the lightpost and under the dogwood are teeny this year.  They are about a third of the leafy size of prior years.  I think it was the drought last summer, as they really crisped and had to be cut back then.
  • the buckeyes are flowering wildly!  All but the second from the left.  It was always behind the others in growth, and seemed to take longer to establish.  It has immature spikes, but no bottlebrushes yet.  But the others, wow:
  • I lost a Montauk daisy at the back of Meadow's Edge.  It got eaten by rabbits, then had too much shade to grow back.
  • Voles everywhere!!!  They run around in broad daylight.  I put out traps and got two so far.
  • I love the way the plumbago teepees are flowering now.  This is the look I want when I put in the two large tutiers and some clematis at the "entrance" to the secret garden.

And some more random summer shots, including the first flower on the anemone, and the red salvias under the hummer feeder.  The annuals along the new strip border of the secret garden look nicer now.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

End of July

Clear blue sunny skies all day today and a warm breeze.  Comfortable, although a little too much sun and too hot to work in the garden.  But a great day for lounging!

Yesterday was spitting drizzle and gloomy, and very, very humid.  We moved Pam into her new condo in Glastonbury.  Forest Lane is no more.  She has a patio at the walkout basement level, partially covered by a deck overhead, and partially in the open.  She wants me to landscape it after she gets a new paver patio installed.

(Hmmm, shade plants.  It is shaded by the building itself, and by tall overhead pines, although it faces west.  I'll have to start thinking!  There is an old tall limbed up rhododenron already there and a few puny hostas.  It's a tiny space, but I'm thinking a small Japanese maple, climbing hydrangea to go up and over the deck, astilbe, hakonechloa, heuchera.... that should be enough to fill either side of the small patio!)

Peggy Stanwood came to visit my yard earlier in the week, and genuinely seemed to love everything I have done here!  She was impressed.

In all the terrible heat and dry stretch in mid July we lost patches of lawn.  There is a big brown patch smack in the middle of the front yard slope, and several around the gardens.  Nothing to worry about, with enough water and cooler temps it will recover, but it looks so awful that I don't even want to go out and fuss in the gardens.  It all just looks bad.

Jim got the sprinkler guy here and he fixed one broken and some misdirected heads.  It was a terrible time for water to be missing these lawn spots. . .  when the heat hit some areas weren't getting watered at all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Rain

Another half inch of rain today when a strong thunderstorm rolled through!  Temps behind the storm are in the 60s.

I finally ditched the black & blue sage (Salvia guaranitica) I had wintered over that refused to bloom. 

Then today I found two great looking, blooming, big black & blue sages at Lowe's.  They are a little bedraggled after the storm, but great, full plants with gorgeous blooms.  Yay.

I also got a Nandina domestica 'Firepower', a dwarf heavenly bamboo for a filler plant along the front walk.  It stays small (2 feet wide, perfect for that narrow space), and it gets great fall color.

But . . . .
 . . . .  it is hardy only to zone 6!  Will it be warm enough along the walk with the southern exposure, heat reflecting walk and heat absorbing brick wall?  Zone 6?  We'll see.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Did Not Water Today

We got four tenths of an inch of rain, the first of any precipitation in 16 days. Temperatures were in the low 70s.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another Scorcher

Another hot one, dry and sunny but humid air.  No records were set today, we only got to 98 degrees.

I watered and watered more today, but the high temps have burned some leaves.  The yellowroot, so full and lush, has curled brown leaves.

The birches look terrible, and are dropping leaves.

The new oak out in the meadow is really brown, but may survive. 

Everything looks awful. 

Of course on Thursday I had the garden bookgroup over and it was the first time they have seen my garden.  We took a tour around in the awful early evening heat, and they were complimentary and said nice things, but really, it all looked so awful.  But they of all people can sympathize!  Their gardens are wilted too, and they are struggling with watering like I am.

By the way, remind me not to plant white nicotiana next to a stand of white Shasta daisies.  Too much white, especially as the daisies brown and fade.  I like both, but they need to be separated.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Record Broken

The Hartford Courant

The temperature reached 103 degrees at Bradley International Airport on Friday, the highest temperature ever recorded there, as searing heat roasted the state for the second straight day.

The previous record at Bradley for July 22 was 101 degrees, most recently recorded in 1926.

The 102-degree mark was hit on a number of dates in the past, most recently on July 6 last year.

I watered.  And watered.  In 103 degree heat and sun.  It's been 14 days since we had less than half an inch of rain.

The plants in containers are pffft.  One of the new trees planted in the meadow this spring is now brown.   The annuals were dry and keeled over.  I got all of the back of Meadow's Edge well soaked, and the Birch Garden.

Still need to get the new trees in the meadow, and plants along the east side.

103 ---  yikes.

Jim and I tried to go to the Manchester band shell for an outdoor concert tonight (Little Big Band) but it was canceled due to heat.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

100 degrees

Hot and windy, no rain in sight.  Wilted plants, hard packed earth.  101 degrees on my thermometer in the sun today, but the official high at Bradley Field was in the high 90s.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nothing But Sun

Hot and humid today, sunny all day.

I watered and watered and watered.  Jim helped, which made it go so much faster but it still took all day and barely made a dent.  The birches are wilted and dropping yellow leaves.  One of the new trees I planted this spring in the meadow is brown and crispy and losing leaves.

No rain for 10 days now, and little before that.

Forecast for the next 5 days is sun, temps in the high 90s, no rain.

Same as Last Year

The same thing as last summer: radar shows a big line of wet stormy weather rolling directly toward Hartford on the map, with a 70% to 90% chance that it will rain heavily . . . and we a get just a few one hundredths of an inch of sprinkles out of it all.

The forecast as of noon on the 18th:

Hi: 90°
Widespread thunderstorms and numerous showers early...then scattered showers with a chance of thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms may produce gusty winds and heavy rainfall. Hot with highs in the lower 90s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90 percent.
Lo: 69°
Mostly cloudy. Showers and thunderstorms likely... Mainly in the evening. Some thunderstorms may produce gusty winds...small hail and heavy rainfall in the evening. Humid with lows in the upper 60s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph. Gusts up to 20 mph in the evening. Chance of rain 70 percent.

The reality at the end of the day on the 18th: 

Nothing.  No rain. A very brief burst of rain for about a minute, registering 4 one hundredths of an inch.

I will need to water the birches, the hydrangeas, the newest plants . . . everything.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

So Dry

No rain for over a week and high temperatures.  It's been 9 days since we got four tenths of an inch, and before that only traces.  The aquifers are full from all the rain in May and June, so we are not in any kind of drought.  But the lack of rain for so long now has made everything crispy in the garden.

The birch trees, as always, are the first trees to show the stress.  They are droopy and dropping yellow leaves.  The climbing hydrangea looked brown and wilted in the hot dry afternoon sun.  Bad location for it next to the driveway in afternoon sun.

Annuals and some newly planted perennials look awful.  I water as much as I can, but it's never enough.

This is getting to be just like last summer's horrid dry spell.  It's hard to enjoy the garden when it looks so bad, is stressed, and takes so much work.  And the trees on the back hill get nothing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Designs of Mann

Another beautiful day, sunny and dry.

Sharon and David Mann came today for a consult on all the projects I want to do:
  1. remove the sod in the Secret Garden and put down pea stone with random accent rocks.  Widen the borders and let plants spill into the gravel area.
  2. extend and expand several of the new gardens.  I have too many small skinny borders, unconnected
  3. add bluestone steps off the patio out into the yard.
  4. extend the little area off the steps at the east side of the deck. It needs to be much much larger.
At first they didn't get the idea of the Secret Garden and were talking about pavers, a circle, a formal structured patio area set inside the grass, but we eventually got to the idea I want, which is something like this but with fewer accent rocks:

Or like this using large irregular stones:

I think this is all going to be very expensive.  We'll see what they come up with.

It was enjoyable to walk around with them and talk plants.  They are very knowledgeable and they really admired what I've done here!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Less is More

A beautiful day yesterday.  Sunny, breezy, dry and cool.  Little humidity.

The sourwood is blooming and the bees love it.

I finally started to rework the edges of the dry creek bed to make it more naturalistic.  It turns out that less is more . . . I needed to remove rocks, not keep adding more.  I took out about a quarter of them, trying to create breaks in the edge that look more random.  I need some pea gravel to fill in the spaces.

I think I am getting there.  I like it better already.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Daylily Redemption

Hot and humid, in the high 80s. 

After all my complaining in late June about the beheaded daylilies never blooming and getting ravaged by the deer, I have been spraying much more, and now they have redeemed themselves.

Even in Meadow's Edge they are blooming, although the effect is still more messy foliage than color.

Redemption.  They can stay, although I do need to dig them up in the fall and divide all of them, and I can give Gail what I divide.

The flowering tobacco is in bloom, but I don't notice any fragrance even at night.

And the candy lilies, only the orange ever comes up, not the multi colors I had planted!

I staked the floppy gaura along the front walk, and I like it much better.  It's still too loose and unstructured, but sits up a little higher so you can see the wands of flowers.  Hard to tell in the photo.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What's Blooming in July

Half an inch of rain last night.  Sunny and breezy today.

The knockout roses that were so profuse in mid June have stopped blooming completely.  There will be a second flush, but I don't remember them taking several weeks off, with no roses at all.  The day lilies are coming in, and the spraying is working, so I am getting some blooms.

Flowering now - thimbleweed and geraniums and Shasta daisies and Petite Delight magenta bee balm and the cute drumstick alliums.

The tiarella is still blooming under the deep shade of the baptisia foliage and the astilbe is blooming behind it all.  Sedum and gaura complement each other in pink in front of the garage.

'Miss Manners' white obedient plant has created a very dense stand this year.  It looked so much better with the pink coneflowers mixed in last year.  This year there is no real conrast for the white flowers other than a lone peach colored daylily.

I love the way the bright orange butterfly weed looks with the deep puprle foliage of the 'Forest Pansy' redbud in the foregraound.  I can see the 'Karl Foerster' grass peeking through.

Potted nasturtiums in the strawberry jars add to the bright colors in Meadow's Edge.

Yarrow is blooming.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mid Summer

Hot and humid for several days now, in the high 80s.  Too hot to be out there. 

The rabbits and deer are all over the yard.  I'm spraying pretty aggressively to try to keep some of the daylily blossoms from being nipped before they bloom.  The rabbits are eating the marigold blooms right off.

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's July!

Cool and breezy today, some sun, some clouds.

I planted today.  I'm never so happy as when I am planting things.

I put the Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail' that Cyndy gave me from her garden in Meadow's Edge.  It will get big, and it had deep red spires for flowers that go all summer.  We'll see how it looks there.

I moved a little redbud from the berm in front of the buckeyes, and a little river birch from the berm out into the yard.

Not sure how they will look full grown, but I do want more shade, more definition in the open lawn in the back.

The tiny dwarf goatsbeard finally looks good!