Saturday, September 4, 2010

From May to September

Remember the line from that old song . . . "it's a long long way, from May to September"? Well, now it's officially September, and despite blasting days of seemingly endless heat and humidity, we had to shut the windows tonight (and not because the air-conditioning is on). Yup, down to 45 F it is predicted. Of course, it will warm up again before the summer's totally over, but, hey, this is Labor Day weekend after all -- end of the park district pools, the summer camps, the festivals and outdoor activities for the most part.

So it's also a time when the garden is slowing down. Hopefully, the weeds are slowing down too. And the gardeners are starting to take stock. It's been a tough year for a lot of plants: heavy spring rains, amazing heat stress, continuing bouts of high humidity. Some plants like to be treated like that, but many do not.

So what do we still have in bloom? Well, some of the die-hard annuals in pots are going strong: red vinca, red salvia, petunias, blue salvia, lantanas, and impatiens in enough shade. The front row of pots looks a bit overgrown and exhausted, but there are these bright spots of continuing color!

Some of the petunias in the front containers in full sun have given up the ship by now, so to speak, but those planted later in a less sunny location seem to be coming into their own on both sides of the garden statue that I still have from my grandmother's garden long ago.

The barrels behind the glider with the double impatiens and dwarf hostas survived the heat too, thanks to my husband's faithful watering.

Although I would have thought that this would be a bad year for impatiens of any kind, it turned out not to be true. They can and do take the heat as long as they are in shade and kept watered. I had the doubles and singles in containers, a single in a basket, and a couple of new guineas in barrels, and they all look pretty good. I wasn't sure about putting bright red and yellow-orange ones together in the pots alongside the old metal glider sofa, but the brightness is certainly welcome now when everything else around it has turned to  green -- and the green is starting to have that exhausted yellow tinge :)

Back in the shady shady north yard, there isn't much color and the overgrown elderberries I didn't plant are busy fruiting while they smother the viburnum, hydrangea, and dwarf lilac. We've got to get them out of there! But the white impatiens in pots near the north seating area did very well and are so clear and cool looking.

The white picks up again behind them in the lacy panicles of the Hydrangea paniculata "Tardiva" (meaning late-blooming, like "tardy"), whose blooms have lasted a long time this year!

Not many perennials are in bloom right now, although the fall-blooming anemones are in bud I noticed. But a new planting of a dwarf buddleia is doing nicely.

Of course, there are always surprises in a garden, even late in the season. I had gotten a start of bright red annual begonia from supergardener Frank Cooper, who had kept it over the winter in his greenhouse. But it just didn't want to start growing ... all summer long it just sat there looking forlorn -- all stem and no leaves or blooms! But on my garden rounds this afternoon I re-discovered it. It's not huge and it won't withstand a frost (in October?), but it is blooming and it's a lovely color.

As for the project to "rehabilitate" the garden and make big changes for easier maintenance in the future, well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice, men, and gardeners . . . We did make some progress despite all the rain and all the heat advisory days, however. And three of the four raised beds on the east side were cleared of weeds (although some have already grown back!) and mulched and we got the paths cleared (a big step!) and mulched. That will make it easier to get around and see what else can and can't be accomplished before the season is completely over. More on that later ... Enjoy your late-summer/early-fall gardens while you can!

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