This year, I am reminded that gardening is so much easier when the sun doesn’t overwhelm plants suffering from drought. With a little rain, the garden grows in beauty and grace. The last three years Oklahoma suffered with high temperatures and terrible drought, not as terrible as California, but bad enough. Even though we fought the good fight with soaker hoses and drip irrigation on timers, plants remained smaller with some even drying up and going underground at the height of summer–baptisia, anyone?. Even with a lot of extra plants, the garden look less like a jungle and much more like a desert oasis.
I’ll take a jungle any day. This year, the garden is full to bursting. There’s really no more room for any new plants.
Garden visitors came last week and one asked why my plants were so stuffed together. I appreciate growing plants as “green mulch.” Daylilies and other tough plants, especially ornamental grasses and prairie natives, or selections from them, squeeze out many weeds. Once the plants are larger, they also shade out their competition. I did find room for a small Echinacea ‘Piccolino’ at the front of the meadow border. We’ll see if it will last more than a couple of years. I was burned on some of the newer echinaceas in the past, especially those yellow ones.
In the vegetable garden, I wish I’d planted my zinnias in a spot where they could really shine. I don’t know what I was thinking when I planned the vegetable garden because obviously, the zinnias should be planted in front of the sunflowers and corn. They aren’t tall enough to compete. Still, when I’m back there weeding and picking pole beans, I see the zinnias even if my neighbors don’t. Pollinators also don’t seem to care.
The front bed facing the street is my experimental one. In it, I place all the seeds and seedlings I’ve started–many I’ve never grown before. It’s all a happy jumble of plants with no rhyme or reason. This year, ‘Jigsaw’ and ‘Purple Majesty’ millet are really showing off. I put out Nolo bait early to keep the grasshoppers at bay. I noticed lots of young grasshoppers again two days ago. I’ll put out more Nolo bait today on those plants the grasshoppers especially want to eat like millet, perennial hibiscus and cannas, for example.
More rain is forecast for Tuesday or Thursday. My garden will be bursting at its seams, but I don’t care. I’m grateful to have happy plants this year.