Friday, August 1, 2014

And It's August

It's dry. Ten days with no rain. Strong showers passed through the state today, but we got nothing, not a drop, despite black clouds threatening all around us.

As August comes in it is amazing how many cold nights we've had. The temperature is consistently in the 50s at night. When I get up to make the morning coffee it's chilly.

The nicotianas don't release their nighttime fragrance at all in this cool weather. They're pretty enough, though. I have three kinds.

Delayed by all the cool air, the bottlebrush buckeyes are late to bloom, but have finally -- finally -- opened their rocket shaped flower spikes.

All except that tardy one second from the left. It's a different cultivar, it flowers two weeks later, and I complain about the lack of blooming symmetry every year. Drives me crazy. Jim says the hedge has "character" and "individuality", but those are just euphemisms for a labeling mistake by the nursery.

Black eyed Susans, daylilies, cardinal red lobelias, deep purple phlox are all adding color now. A few of the frilly white 'Miss Manners' obedient plants showed up and I added more this summer, but the big stand I had in previous years is just a little patch. I've been watering and fertilizing it more this year, to see if it does better with more attention.

The deep wine colored velvety 'Ruby Slippers' cardinal flowers keep diminishing every year, but I see some small ones near the patio wall, waiting to open. I'm fertilizing and watering them more this season too, to see if I can revive what had previously been a big stand of them.

The grape leaved anemone 'Robustissima' has silvery buds held aloft, and one pink blossom has opened. This is a plant that does fine with little care. I did stake it earlier in the summer to keep it from flopping over. By the time I got to it last year, the plant was too big to get any supports under it.

Russian sages are blooming now but they are sparse. They seem to be taking several years to bulk up.

Should I cut down the 'Alba Luxurians' clematis by the patio wall? It finished blooming a while ago, and in past years the foliage got tired looking and I cut it to the ground in late July. By September I would always get another full plant, with glorious white blooms all over it.

This is what it looked like in the middle of last October, after hacking it to the ground in mid summer.

This year the foliage looks fine and I am reluctant to chop it down. Will it rebloom on its own if I leave it standing? I guess I'll try leaving the vine as is and see what develops this season, even though right now it's just a tower of uninteresting green. It sure isn't much to look at now.

Each year is so different. Some plants behave differently, just when I had their needs figured out from prior years.  Or some don't show up, after I had created a nice design with them the year before. Some were big and robust one year, wimpy and small the next, leaving gaps.

Sometimes I try new plants and they aren't as rewarding.

This year I planted smaller zinnias, rather than the big Cut & Come Again series which get so unruly -- and what I have now are button sized zinnias that are too tidy and don't provide any summer oomph. They are all pink, not mixed colors this time, and I miss the variety.

Nasturtiums are piddly this year. Mostly I planted Yellow Gleam, and it's too pale and underwhelming, and not very flowery. Give me a big orange or red one.

Every year I end up with empty spots, ratty looking areas, and places that just look weedy despite my careful tending. The containers on the deck need some refreshing too.

My solution is always to run out in August and buy things that are too leggy in their nursery pots by mid summer, then scrabble around in the cement that is the dirt in my dry summer garden, and try to stuff some color into areas that are bare.

That's what I did again this week. My summer ritual -- buy a bunch of pot bound plants in full bloom, scrape out hard dry dirt to put them in, and get frustrated with trying to fix things on the fly. I got gaura Whirling Butterflies, some pink coneflowers, some mixed low mounding zinnias, petunias.

There's not much left in the garden centers as August arrives.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you on the changing of plants per season. I am very frustrated this summer with some of my more dependable plants such as autumn clematis. Either it has a virus or could not take the and a lot of rain for most of the summer up until now. And my russian sage is taking a bit to bulk up as well. Loved seeing your nicotianas....they are gorgeous and this post has inspired me to add them to the list for next year! Isn't it crazy how the season is almost done already...kinda hard to wrap my head around! Your beds and your garden are always such a treat to see! I am wishing you all rain in the near future! Happy gardening you! Nicole xo