For late August the weather has been cool. Sunny (another too-long stretch without any rain), and pleasant with very chilly nights.
It's weird, but the 'Ruby Spice' clethra never bloomed at all this summer. I kept thinking it comes out later than the smaller 'white 'Hummingbird' variety, but I don't think that's so. They bloom together starting in early August.
Here's 'Hummingbird', already gone by, with its white spikes turning tawny and its heavenly scent faded now. The larger, lighter colored shrub is the 'Ruby Spice' summersweet, and there is not a bloom in sight.
I have this combination of 'Hummingbird' and 'Ruby Spice' planted on both ends of the berm. In both sites the taller 'Ruby Spice' did not have a single bloom this year.
Clethra blooms on new wood, so it can't be left over winter damage. I wonder what caused this total lack of flowering on what looks otherwise like healthy shrubs? And only on the one variety, while the smaller white cultivar bloomed as robustly as ever. That's odd.
The gently spicy aroma of summersweet is gone by, and now sweet autumn clematis takes over. It's stronger, headier, very noticeable at all times, even scenting the air before its star flowers are fully open.
This sweet autumn clematis is climbing on the deck railing right outside the porch, and you can't miss its sharp smell when you walk out on the porch. Unlike clethra, which is a fragrance that you have to catch on the midsummer air as you walk nearby coming and going, sweet autumn clematis greets you head on and declares for a fact: summer is ending.