Saturday, August 25, 2007

My August Garden

As is my custom at this time of year, I've let the garden go a bit. It's a bit of a disaster really. Flowers haven't been deadheaded. Anything taller than two feet has flopped over onto its neighbours. And the weeds and a few surprise grasses have been given the leeway to thrive. I can't help it. The August heat slows me right down.

Thankfully, all is not lost. There are a few gems hidden in the mess that is my garden right now. I've been flip-flopping on whether or not I like the Helenium I planted this year. This morning's blooms did a lot to sway me to to say "Yes! I like the Helenium." Just as I was hoping, the blooms are appearing as everything else is fading. And the colour heralds the arrival of fall and cooler weather.

I rarely give enough attention to shrubs, trees and other plants with less than showy blooms. That changes here. My cotton lavender has been an absolute delight all summer. I especially like the silvery colour. It adds fragrance to the garden too (although some might argue it doesn't smell all that great.) The cotton lavender makes a feeble attempt at producing some tiny yellow button-like blossoms in mid to late summer. They're hardly showstoppers but cute nevertheless.

I've been out of the garden so long I was very surprised to see the first pink blossoms on the Autum Joy Sedum. Now that's a showstopper! This plant proves the old saying "Good things come to those who wait." The Autum Joy spends spring and summer going quietly about its business. Come fall, the sedum becomes the centre of attention. It's sort of like the Rockettes or a Vegas show: a spectacle so big that it's tough to look away.

While August has been a scorcher, the month has also produced some of the best (and only) rains of the summer. Here are some raindrops on the winged euonymous. What a relief. There was so little rain this year that I was very surprised the City didn't impose any water restrictions.

And I'm happy to report that diligent and regular watering in July and August have produced a Purple Beech tree growth spurt. It's bursting with new buds. It looks as though the tree has grown by at least a foot this summer. It's still very young and probably a few years away from producing the significant amount of shade I'm desperate for. But I think it's well on its way to becoming a grand and majestic tree. Any help from real rain is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Hate to Brag, But...

I am just thrilled about my bumper crop of cherry tomatoes. They look great and taste even better. Tonight I harvested 16 of them. 16! Okay, perhaps my gushing is a bit much. But tomatoes are the only edibles I'm growing this year. To see them perform so well is just awesome. Note to self: make room in next year's garden for vegetables.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sure Signs of Autumn's Approach

Nothing says fall to me more than the colour orange. So when I first see the orange Chinese Lanterns from the back door, I know that autumn is closing in. The official start of fall is still about six weeks away but I have to admit, I'm looking forward to it. The heat of July and August have worn me down a bit and the drought is a downer.

For all my whining and complaining about how invasive Chinese Lanterns are, I'm sad they didn't do better this year. For the most part, they all look a little grungy. But I have been unkind to them. I yanked most of them and neglected the rest. Now I feel bad.

The lanterns look great on the stem adding a splash of colour to the garden just as most of it is fading. But I like to pick them and open up the lantern to create "petals." A small bowl of these beauties makes a lovely centrepiece for the table and it keeps a long time.

My serviceberry is getting a jump start on fall. It's way to early for leaves to be changing colour, isn't it? But alas, I've got a few red ones on the go. The serviceberry has a bad case of powdery mildew so I suspect that might be part of the problem if not the problem. Putting aside concerns about how the tree is performing, I have to say I'm thrilled about the leaf colour. The more colour in fall the better. Bring it on.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

How Dry I Am

Around 6:30 tonight, I was sure it was going to rain. The sky was dark with clouds, the wind was picking up, and something in the air just made me feel that a storm was coming. Here it is four hours later and not a drop. That about sums up the summer. The rain has threatened to fall but has failed to follow through. The consequences for my garden have been relatively minimal. I've been doing my best to water deeply when I can. When I haven't been able to I've been taking comfort in the fact that my borders are fairly well established and can take a short dry period in stride. The drought has had a far more noticeable impact over at my in-laws. I snapped this photo over at their place yesterday. Looks like a dirt road, right? Wrong!

That is a dried up pond. So dry that the earth on the bottom is cracking. Even though some vegetation is managing to soldier on, all I can say is "Yikes!" Neighbours who've been in the area far longer than my in-laws say it's the first time they've ever seen the pond in such dire straits. Small fish that filled the pond were either plucked out of the shallow waters by birds or dried out on the pond floor only to become snacks for assorted wildlife. All of this strikes me as somewhat of a minor catastrophe in the grand scheme of things. Here's hoping for rain. And soon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Back in April when I began my adventures in blogging, my first entry revolved around a branch in a Christmas-themed urn that had taken root and was subsequently producing leaves. This is what it looked like way back on April 27th. I proclaimed that I was Crazy For Corkscrew and jumped to the conclusion that I had a corkscrew hazel on my hands.

Well it turns out I was wrong. At the risk of being wrong again, I'm now prepared to announce that I've got a corkscrew willow instead. I suspected I had misidentified the plant for some time now. The leaves on the sprouted tree were too long and narrow to be corkscrew hazel. I kept expecting them to get thicker and denser but that never materialized. Then the other day I saw a reference to corkscrew willow somewhere and had an epiphany. Just because my branch was twisted didn't make it a corkscrew hazel. A Google image search of "corkscrew willow" turned up dozens of pictures that looked just like my little tree.

Now I was happy to have a corkscrew hazel. But I think I'm even happier to have a corkscrew willow. The mature trees I saw on the internet were way more appealing to me than a mature corkscrew hazel. And judging by the growth spurt I've seen this summer, this little tree should be a big tree in no time.