Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Color Brown

We've been getting brief thunderstorms that drop a quarter inch of rain now and again, but it's too little too late after a completely rainless summer. And now August temperatures are scorching.

We've spent a fortune watering all summer, and that extravagance combined with the brief storms has left some tufts of lurid green holding on around the dry spots, but it mostly looks ratty.

In addition to losing all six of the transplanted blueberries, and the young blue beeches in the meadow, which are dead leafless sticks now, I have lost the pretty hemlock I planted in 2008.

The birds nest spruces that had been transplanted on the berm last year are now gone. Both have to be taken out.

A rabbit cut the stems of the sweet autumn clematis by the new deck. The vines were not eaten or stripped, just cut at ground level and left there dangling. I removed the severed parts, leaving the two skimpy remaining vine stems. Last night the second stem was cut and now only one remains.

That's a loss. The roots are probably okay, but after nurturing this vine through the deck construction damage this spring and watering it faithfully all summer, it's discouraging to lose its sweetly scented flowers this fall.

Things that are supposed to handle dry conditions well, like epimediums and comptonia, now look brown and crispy. I'll cut off the dried foliage of these Epimedium rubrum plants, and they'll probably come back next spring.

Along with all the astilbes, the dwarf goatsbeard has dried up and left some brown debris in its place. Are the roots of this pretty foliage plant still alive? Will they resprout next spring?

The local garden club is supposed to come after Labor Day to tour my garden, but I have nothing to show. What isn't dead is scorched  -- ravaged bottlebrush buckeye foliage, curled brown leaves on the yellowroot, shriveled viburnums, droopy dogwood leaves, a dead hemlock and other expired things. I have little blooming besides black eyed susans.

I did start some dahlias in pots on the potting bench -- I'll plant those and they might bloom in time for Labor Day. And I'll buy colorful mums and put them about, but I don't think the garden club is coming to see potted mums really.

Out west the treeless brown landscape is spacious and wide and expansive. The dry air and dry land and dry brown colors look natural and right. Refreshing, actually.

Here in my eastern woodland garden the tufty hay colored patches of lawn and dead sticks of plants look so sick. What hasn't up and died looks diminished, even the things I water faithfully. Branches of 'Gro Low' fragrant sumac, which loves dry conditions, are browning one at a time as the plants slowly commit suicide.

I thought I'd come back from Wyoming feeling revitalized, but I'm down. I'm looking at real estate ads for western communities and Jim is researching auction sites to sell his power tools and John Deere lawnmower.

One bad season is only one bad season -- much will recover next year I hope. But there it is.


  1. I have so much sympathy for your discouragement. Cutting things back seems like an excellent strategy! No one will know the difference, and the club will still see the beautiful structure you've worked so diligently to build. Hang in there.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement!! It helps. I started cutting back the fried foliage on some things, and it does look better now. (Except for the dead hemlock, yuk).