Saturday, July 30, 2016

Time to Give In

Jim did a great job keeping the pots on the patio watered while I was in California. We had a lot of heat and dry wind and no rain while I was gone, and the fact that he kept the containers looking good is impressive.

I came home to a flowering plumbago. It loved all the heat, and Jim's twice-daily watering. Apparently butterflies adore plumbago, because the plant vibrates with them.

But the rest of the garden has now succumbed to a rainless summer, and it is finally time to give in. I can no longer keep some things alive, much less looking good. I am gone again for a week, and Jim is coming, and I don't want to continue to squander expensive water on a hopeless cause.

I'll toss all the containers and start over again at Labor Day when I'll go shopping for mums for a few containers. That will have to do for patio decor this season.

Our absence in August won't affect what is gone already. The six blueberries I laboriously transplanted are gone, and I have now lost the second 'Mt. Airy' fothergilla, the oakleaf hydrangea, and even a 'Gro-Low' fragrant sumac, which is supposed to tolerate dry conditions.

The six transplanted blueberry bushes all look like this now

Astilbes by the patio wall disappeared in brown dust, although I hope the roots survive for next year. An entire flat of alyssum plugs never took at all, despite constant watering. They all have to come out.

The perennials I planted new this year -- purple coneflowers, some cute 'Biokovo' geraniums, alchemillas, and blackeyed susans, which were already curled and crisp even with all my watering, will all have to be sacrificed along with the container plants. I'm hoping they at least got enough roots going so that they will live to come back another season.

The established stands of pink turtlehead and frilly white obedient plant just shriveled and show no signs of flowering.

I don't want to lose an expensive new stewartia, but despite hand watering, it has brown, curled leaves. The dwarf winterhazel I moved struggled after transplant and now has almost no leaves at all. The new little blue beeches in the meadow and the parrotia by the driveway are young prized trees I will have trouble replacing.

A young blue beech (Carpinus caroliniana) has burnt up

And there are others . . . .

Older, mature favorites, like the katsura tree and bottlebrush buckeyes, look terrible. They have established root systems, and should be okay, but will simply look awful as they scorch, wilt or withhold flowering.
Bottlebrush buckeyes should have flowered in July. Leaves are wilted and scorched, and flower spikes won't open his year.

Spider mites have attacked a big 'Twilite Prairieblues' baptisia. Baptisias tolerate dry conditions and have lovely, trouble-free clean foliage, but this one is a mass of diseased gray leaves and bare stems. I'll have to completely cut it down and clean up the infected litter. That will leave a big empty spot and a crown of ugly cut stems but it's better than seeing the diseased foliage.

Some rain is falling as I pack for our trip tomorrow, but it's been mostly effective at wetting the chair cushions and not much else.

Given the effort of watering, and the expense, and the fact that most plants are now not responding to supplemental water anyway, I think my best option when I get back from our trip in mid August is to toss all the containers, pull the dead blueberries and oakleaf hydrangea and fothergilla out, chop down the diseased baptisia, cut back the shriveled perennials, close my eyes to the defoliating trees and shrubs, and give in. I can't save this season.


  1. Your situation is pretty much what happened to us last year. Fingers crossed that there are good root systems out there in the garden.

    1. Sallysmom, Next year will be better -- we'll see what survives next season!

  2. Laurrie, I am a new reader to your journal and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute. There aren't many free minutes, since I recently scored 20+ yards of hardwood mulch...for free. I get up before dawn, walk the dog, and then spend several hours hauling chips before it gets too hot (scorched here in the midwest, too). I sent a picture of our driveway to a friend, and the drive was completely covered by woodchips up to a height taller than I am But the subject line was, "gardeners are optimists."

    Hoping and hoping that your lovely work and beautiful yard are just waiting it out. Will send good thoughts for rain.

    1. Christen, welcome to my journal! I'm glad you are enjoying my ramblings and sending good thoughts to my garden : )