Saturday, July 10, 2010

Garden Blaaaaahhh... Heat Wave + Neglect = Ugly

I would love to tell you that this is what my garden looks like today:

...But no, I took that picture at The Sanctuary resort on Kiawah Island two weeks ago.  Okay, now in the spirit of honesty and humility, I'm going to post some ugly recent pictures of my real garden.

Isn't it sad?  Look at my Stella d'Ora day lilies that were blazing with yellow blooms just a month ago!  In my defense, it's been roasting hot for weeks and I've been hiding out in the air conditioning for the most part.  After taking this picture, I spent several hours over the past few days hunched/crouched over, pulling out dead foliage and yanking out the dried up stalks and seed pods.  By the way, the green succulent groundcover at the front of the bed is purslane that we planted to replace the daisies and blue flowers that didn't like growing there, but we'll talk more about that later.  First I want to show you a close-up of all the crud I pulled out of the day lilies -- I don't dig my own holes, but I prune crape myrtles, pull weeds, and tidy up the flower beds myself. 

See?  At first I was thinking the reduced blooming might indicate that these lilies need to be dug up and divided in the fall, but once I pulled out all the dead and dying foliage the plants didn't look nearly as crowded anymore.  I'm guessing my error was leaving the seed pods on the plants, those bulbous green things that seem at first glance to be flower buds, but they are more rounded and when they eventually open they have black seeds in them.  I've read that removing spent blooms on daffodils and other bulbs encourages better blooming, that the plant diverts energy away from flowers when they are doing the seed pod thing, and a quick google search on the Stella d'Ora variety indicated that their seed pods should be removed, too.  Hopefully my backbreaking labor in hundred degree heat will turn out to have been time well spent.  Already the bed looks healthier and greener, but of course I want my masses of yellow flowers to come back!

So, back to the purslane, which we've really been enjoying.  I took the picture of the day lilies in the late afternoon, when all the purslane flowers go into hiding like little red turtles tucked away inside their shells.  Here's what they look like every morning:

Isn't that pretty?  It would be even better with a mass of yellow lilies behind it...  But we're loving the purslane because it's drought-tolerant, so it's thriving and spreading out even in this horrible heat spell, despite neglect and indifference, and it's cute how the flowers all disappear in the afternoon and then pop out like Jack-in-the-boxes first thing in the morning. 

We have some yellow ones in planters by the front steps, too, with canna bulbs planted beneath them. I wish we had planted the cannas sooner because if we had, they could be blooming their big, tropical, orange flowers right now, but the yellow purslane and purplish red canna foliage is pretty together in the meantime.  Those are purple pansies in the other planter, by the way.  I think they should have been yanked and replaced with something summery a long time ago, but Bernie says "they're doing great."  I can't get my way all the time, or so he keeps telling me...

Now, back to some wretched plant misery!  Look at this dogwood tree that we transplanted early in the Spring.  It's tucked way in the back behind the kids' fort, in a woodsy area where I rarely venture because of the swarms of vicious mosquitos.  It didn't even occur to me to check on the dogwood back there in the shade, but apparently we don't have any irrigation back there yet and the poor baby is hurting pretty badly.  It's a really pretty pink dogwood, too, that we had originally planted in the front yard but had to move it because it couldn't take so much sun.  I don't want to lose it!

THAT, my friends, is what happens when you forget to water your beautiful African impatiens.  First I took the picture, then I ran for the watering can, and by the next day the plant was miraculously recovered, but I don't know whether I'll be able to get it to bloom again. 
My new azaleas have been suffering away in the back yard, too.  Man, we just planted these!  They are supposed to be growing and spreading, not shriveling up and turning brown!  Oh, the AGONY!
Well, we definitely need to add a sprinkler zone back in that area.  I want to plant more azaleas, rhododendrons, hostas, and ferns along the edge of the whole woodsy area that divides our back yard from the sidewalk, but I can't have everything curling up and dying on me. 
I can't end on such a dreary note, either, so here's a picture I took of my mom's red crape myrtle trees when we were at her house for Independence Day:
Keep cool this summer, and don't forget to water your plants!  I'm headed up to my sewing studio to try to make friends with my ruffler foot again.  Wish me luck!

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