Remember all that hurrying and scurrying we did from late February to June? Well, the dog days of August are here, and because I don’t have to work so hard, I’ve had time to make a few August garden observations.
1. Weeds never leave. Sure, once things heat up, the spring weeds take a hike, but they are soon replaced by the summer weeds. Any spring weeds I missed set seed in the gravel paths to torment me later. If I didn’t know it before, I know this much now. Gravel is a great seed starting medium. I find stray plants in it everywhere especially that of Verbena bonariensis, zinnias, the various gomphrenas, anything that self seeds. So, use grit on top of your pots when you start seeds in spring and fall, and you’ll just be replicating what’s already going on in my pathways.
2. This summer has been the finest I’ve seen in ten years. We’ve had regular rain. The plants are responding beautifully to the moderated temperatures, and all is well. Still, with all this bounty, I’m thinking about my friends in California and Tennessee who aren’t getting any rain. This makes me sad. Oklahoma continues to have drought, but we seem to have lessened it somewhat this spring and summer Drought is always a few drops away in Oklahoma and Texas, but have you heard about Lake Mead? It’s drying up, and that’s where people in Los Angeles get their water. I don’t know what they will do. Pray for rain for them and the folks in Tennessee. Blogging connects you with people all over the world, and suddenly, you aren’t just hearing about stuff on the news, you know these people. They are your friends.
3. My garden is middle-aged, and has all the aches and pains associated with its twenty-five plus years. I started part of the garden when I was a young gardener, and I now see many things I would do differently. I should’ve planted more trees and shrubs at the beginning. I planted more later, but you can see where the fabric of the garden is frayed when an established rose dies of Rose Rosette Disease or other problems. I lost another rose last week. I plan to replace it with a Hydrangea paniculata, maybe ‘Limelight.’
4. The garden is too big. I started out small, got the gardening bug, and overdid it. I am always thinking of new things to plant, and honestly, if I could afford it, I would hire my friend, John Fluitt from Garden Design Associates to help me create a garden that is easier to care for and more cohesive. I would plant more evergreens for winter interest too. However, in Oklahoma, we have to be very choosy about the evergreens we grow. So many hate it here. Most years, with the summers we have, who could blame them?
5. If I made changes to the garden, I would add even more pollinator plants. I find that I’m more interested in pollinators than ever. I’ve built up my soil for years, and it’s no longer a challenge to get coleus, grasses and flowers to grow. I’m still working on the soil in the newer vegetable patch. Rotation and good soil are the two watchwords there. Ah, but the small bees and butterflies, I love them best. I really do. They’re so busy all day, and in the early morning, so sleepy. I feel like a tender mother to them which makes me laugh because they don’t know I plant all of this for them.
This year, some days are full of sunshine while others are shrouded in cloudy goodness. Nights with sensible low temperatures let plants recover even if we do have a hot day the next. The vegetable garden with its too many tomatoes, peppers and eggplant is overflowing and full of grassy weeds. I just can’t keep up although I mulched and did everything I’m supposed to. The corn was delicious. The tomatoes abundant, and in spite of the potato beetles, even the eggplant has recovered and produced good fruit. I go out and fight the squash bugs twice a day, and I’m thinking about planting bush beans where the corn stalks stand empty. Maybe. Next week is the Garden Writers Association annual meeting in Pittsburgh, and I’m going so there may not be time. Two articles are due beforehand, and work comes first.
About the garden, I know what you’re thinking. You’ll tell me it’s beautiful, and it is, but I also see where things need to be removed for the betterment of other plants. Removing plants even when they are self-seeders is very hard. I just grit my teeth and do it for the garden’s sake. Too many plants are being overshadowed by their neighbors, and I plant in series of “ones” far too often. The garden could use more focal points. I know just enough about design to be dangerous these days.
When the children finally get out of college, I’ll hire someone I trust. I hope John is still designing then. The company will bring in backhoes and other equipment to help me get things set up for the years ahead. I hope Bill is ready for that expense. I’ll also get a small pool because it’s hot in Oklahoma in the summer, and I need somewhere to cool off. As long as I’m dreaming, I’ll also build an outdoor shower so I don’t drag garden debris into the pool. Either that, or I will just move to town and leave it all behind. I’ve been watching my friend as she moves from one garden to a clean slate, and I have a longing for a smaller house and a smaller garden so I can manage things better. We’ll see.
These are my August garden thoughts. What would you change about your garden if you could?
I posted this as part of the Tuesday Garden Party hosted by five different home and garden bloggers.