Saturday, July 28, 2012


The front porch is getting crowded. On Musical Daylilies I wrote about moving daylilies around, but I haven't put any into the ground since publishing that post on June 16th. I knew hot weather was coming and wanted to give them a week to settle in before the heat wave, and only divisions with big root systems went into the ground. Since the first day of summer our weather has been much too hot to transplant anything. Once our 100 plus degree streak broke the humidity went up and it's been like hot soup out there. I believe that adding the temp and humidity together is a much more accurate way of figuring heat indices than NOAA's method. 165 degrees sounds about right.

Some of the plants on the porch definitely won't go in until this fall, such as the 'Sunshine Blue' blueberries shown below. We got them for 20 bucks apiece at the Plant Delights open house in May. 'Sunshine Blue' is a Rabbiteye/Highbush Blueberry hybrid that's supposed to top out at 4', with a low chill requirement, high heat tolerance and excellent fall color. Although it's supposed to be self-pollinating I'm going to plant them side by side for the highest yield. The berries are great straight off the bush. I still haven't quite decided where I want them because I'm not really sure I believe they'll max out at 4'.

I also have a dozen rooted blueberry cuttings that will have been in pots for 18 months this fall. Slow turnover. Turns out we may have both Highbush Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) and Black Highbush Blueberries (Vaccinium fuscatum) here (Gene says ~ he's the main fruit picker) so I'm not sure which they are, but they are cuttings from bushes with fabulous crimson fall color. We didn't get ANY wild blueberry fruit this year so I'll have to check next year to see what is what.

We did finally get some apples again from our trees, which is a good thing because the new trees I ordered last year are now toast. Gene found this recipe from Ina Garten for a French apple tart that's both easy and imo better than apple pie. Sorry no pictures I was too busy eating it.

As I wrote in my previous post, Bidens make great fillers but there are always some difficult bare spots where something needs to go. So I often dig some Bidens and pot them up, let their roots grow for a week, and then plant them out where I need them. Even though it's hot I want them all out by August 1st. Otherwise they won't get established enough to both bloom and set seed. I put 20 in the bed next to the paddock this morning. Something has reduced the baptisias to skeletons this year and the bed next to the paddock in particular looks awful. And anything susceptible to wilt immediately dies in there, so I needed something quick, tough and easy.

Something died near the old house site last week. Probably a deer judging from the smell and the number of vultures that showed up. There must have been at least 20. They roosted in the pine trees and then when they saw me bungled around in the tree branches, flapped heavily and all but fell out of the trees. As hideous and clumsy as they are on the ground and during take-off they are majestic on the wing. Once in the air they formed a vortex that looked like a tornado made of living birds. Too bad I can't take video with my phone. That vortex was an amazing sight.

A trio of deer were visiting us nightly: one doe and two bucks. We wondered if one or all had perished. Then the doe and one buck reappeared a couple of nights ago, lying at the wood's edge above the paddock:

They look rather sweet don't they?

I wish they didn't eat my daylilies.

Baby rabbits put the ridiculous in ridiculously cute. Usually Prissy "takes care" of many of them but she hasn't been this year. Probably it's too hot. This winter I may be channeling Elmer Fudd but even the most trenchant of rabbit disapprovers has to admit that this baby rabbit is cute.

Just stick to eating grass and clover and we'll get along fine. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012


As much as I grouse as I pull up the hundreds of spent stalks in March (and meanwhile the spring weeds are growing unchecked), I don't know what I'd do without Bidens in the garden. They are very handy fillers. They pop up everywhere.

In September they will burst into glorious golden-yellow bloom.

And what is this, that bloomed in early July?

To my surprise these white baptisias held up very well to searing 100+ degree heat. Six baptisias waited until summer to emerge. Tony Avent wrote that (depending on the species) white baptisias bloom much later than the other baptisias. Perhaps my spring-blooming white baptisias are Baptisia alba var. alba (formerly B. pendula) and these later ones are Baptisia alba var. macrophylla (formerly B. leucantha). Does anyone know? The early ones have a shorter stature and smaller daintier cut leaves than these later baptisias, whose flower spikes stand over 5' tall.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Riding the Heat Wave

The heat wave hasn't been quite as miserable as I feared it would be. We've had our power the whole time for one thing, and even an inch of rain over Wednesday and Thursday. Last Sunday was the worst day for heat so far due to the accompanying humidity.

Sunday morning I took my camera out to take a picture of this Black Swallowtail and what happened? Instant camera fog. I've never been to the tropics but it had to be what the tropics feels like.

Early Sunday I went down to the pasture to dump and refill the water trough and both horses were soaked with sweat and blowing. The sweat wasn't evaporating and as a result they were overheating. So they got a good hose down and luckily the sky clouded up later and temps cooled down, eventually way down, the result of nearby rain that didn't quite reach us. In the fact the change was so remarkable it seemed strange -- from unbearably hot and sticky to quite cool and ocean breezy. Anyone who thinks that the discussion of weather is boring is crazy imho.

I am so grateful for the rain we got the last two days. It's impossible to keep everything watered in this heat.

I took this picture before the heat wave. The geraniums are sere brown now ~ but they will bounce back.

The biggest hits with the insects now are the Monarda, Mountain Mint, Vitex, and Buddleia. There is a constant buzzing and fluttering around these flowers. The mint looks so cool and silvery that it seems to shimmer.

I really like the combination of Monarda 'Raspberry Wine' with Vitex.

Earlier this summer I added more Monarda and Brazilian Blue Sage around the Vitex (to have it somewhere I could water it easily). It'll take a year for this new bed to fill in so in the meantime I added some fillers.

Such as Kiss-me-by-the-garden-gate (type that 5 times fast)

Did I mention I was grateful for the rain? Me and the seashore mallows. If I hadn't watered them before the rains they'd be shriveled brown husks of themselves now.

Finally, I have Culver's Root thriving in my garden, on the east side of the house. I don't know if it'll ever be as showy as it is up north, but I like it: modest and graceful at the same time.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the daylilies but I won't miss
spraying them with peppermint every. single. evening.


Commuter daylily (H. citrina)

Still haven't found a tag for this tall beauty.
I must have had the brilliant idea to just tag one of them.

Hudson Valley is another gorgeous yellow; about halfway
as high as the above, with enormous fragrant flowers.

One more day of intense heat and then we are due for a break. What I hate about these heat waves is that in my memory they swell and grow until they fill the entire summer. They sap one's strength. Even with the refuge of air conditioning after a morning spilling into early afternoon of slogging in the sun. I'll be glad when it's over, as I'm sure everyone will be!

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