This has not been an easy year. In fact, it’s the worst I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve gardened heavily since I was twenty or so. I’m not going to say how long that’s been, but believe me, a long time.
I’ve seen summers of drought and those with too much water.
Plants which didn’t want to live here, and, pursuant to their wishes, I released them to the great garden in the sky. However, this summer I’ve lost plants I never thought I’d lose.
I’m saddest about the Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’ (vertical plum yew) I planted last fall. Until July, it was thriving, but even though this cultivar is considered appropriate for southern gardens, my yew will be dug before fall. Another sad plant in my garden is Sambucus nigra Black Lace™ elderberry. It isn’t dead, but it’s ugly.
We’ve had a wonderful week of cooler temperatures, but I find it hard to go out there and assess the damage. There are lemonade plants–those which survived in spite of everything, and I’ll post about them this week. However, today is to honor those which have perished in our summer of hell.
If you think I’m being particularly morose, head over to my friend, Linda Vater’s blog, Potager, where she profiles the winners and losers of 2011. She’s lost a lot too.
Some things just can’t survive over 100F heat for sixty-one days. I barely could, and I had air conditioning.
As I reassess the garden, I need to fall in love with it again, and I will in time. I just need a moment to mourn.
My advice is get out there and tackle the weeds one bed at a time. Pet your dog or cat and listen to the birds sing. Try not to do the garden chores all at once. Just take your time. Be good to yourself. Take breaks. Drink a lot of water and iced tea. Think about what you’d like to change and put those plants which died on the compost pile–unless they are diseased.
It’s time to reconnect with that deepest part of ourselves, the part which longs to nurture. It’s time to garden again.
My condolences to you in your time of loss. This was the summer I resolved not to complain about my weather due to what happened in places like Oklahoma.
I winched everytime I saw the weatherman give the bad news for Texas, Oklahoma and other Southern States. Now that I’ve relocated to North Carolina I am sure that we will see some very harsh droughts as occurred a few years ago here.
What can be more devastating than to see a lovely garden decline ? It’s like a tornado that takes down a home and you question whether you should rebuild or move on.
Just remember the motto of the Chicago Cubs ( bless their heart 🙂 : ” Wait until next year. “
No weeds to pull here – one benefit of our drought. Today we are supposed to hit 83 days of 100 or better for this year (102 yesterday). And according to the weathermen, no need to plant replacements as the drought will continue into next year. So, so discouraging.
Gosh, what can I say? Poor Cynthia, that’s just awful. I thought 62 days straight was bad.
Mr. McGregor's Daughter
It’s enough to make anyone want to toss in trowel, but gardeners are an optimistic lot, and I’m sure you’ll find your gardening mojo again. I just hope next summer is kinder to you & your garden.
I came across a quote tonight that might help you and those who battled the 100 degrees for weeks on end:
“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.”
Hang in there, my friend.
My Sambucus looks the same. Wierd. Kind of dead in spots, with new growth coming out. I’m concerned about that as the plant may not harden off well this fall. I need to transplant it as it’s in the front garden near my entrance and it’s getting large. But I want it to survive this winter also. Probably not worth the risk. Glad your hanging in. Greg.
Thankfully, we have reached the end. .at least for the heat (after today). Hopefully next summer won’t be more of the same. .but at least we have some cooler weather in which to think about all the changes in our designs for next year! Can’t wait to see the survivors!! Garden on!!
For UK standards we have had a bad summer here but nothing like yours. I havent lost too much but have been fustrated at not being able to garden for most of the spring and summer as the ground has been so hard and dry. Like you I am trying to re-engage with my garden, one bit at a time
So sorry to read this, Dee. You put so much into your garden, it is so much part of your life, so much part of ‘you’, it hurts to read it. I hope the autumn brings cool pleasures and that next year is much, much better.
I pretty much lost everything new thatI planted, including my pear tree. So far, I haven’t lost many of the established plants, but nothing looks good. I can’t bring myself to go out there. I’ve given up. I am re-thinking how I want to do things next year, though, since I think it will be just as bad.
Dear Dee, It’s just been heartbreaking to watch this drought. Our own shorter one has taken its toll, but, nothing like yours. I wish it weren’t so….xoxogail
Much of the country has experienced a challenging gardening season. I can’t imagine surviving in that heat let alone gardening. I know you will be out there tending the beds soon. The roses need you and, you are right, the garden looks quite happy in that first photo. I sometimes say that the garden looks ‘best from far away’ just like an aging beauty queen. ‘One bed at a time’ is a good mantra…in gardening.
I feel your pain here in Indiana, too. Though it has not be as hot here as in Oklahoma, it has been hot and dry and I’m seeing plants that just didn’t make it. I’m hopeful for a change in the weather pattern this fall — we’ll see. In the meantime, I’m working on setting expectations for next season.
Lisa at Greenbow
I realize that we didn’t have quite the heat that you did but we did have enough heat and drought that it has been difficult. A third dogwood is about dead. I just can’t hardly believe it. Of course I have lost other things but I hate to lose trees. Especially trees that have been around so long. I do feel your pain. I also feel that odd feeling of not quite knowing what to do next in the garden.
You know I feel your pain down here on my corner of Katy. Even if I put in a drip irrigation system as you and others have urged me to do, I’m not sure it will be enough to keep the gardens alive through another summer like this.
Dee, Here in Fort Worth I’m doing the same things you are — taking some time to assess and just think things over. Thank heavens for this last week and the relief from the heat.
My biggest concern is my Japanese Maples. The only ones that still look good didn’t get any direct sun at all,even filtered. The others have had a lot of damage. I guess it will take a year to see if they’re basically okay or not.
The second concern: The variegated boxwood in my knot garden looks truly horrible. Scorched crisp. I know most of these will not come back. I’m dreading the expense of trying again, and wondering if the edging needs to change.
And the good news! My champion perennial, which looks fully as good this year as any other year: John Fannick Phlox. It’s the most amazing, free-flowering, beautiful, tough, pest-free plant. Looking at it, blooming so beautifully, did my heart good today. Thanks for your blog. I appreciate it so much. You express what we are going through, honestly.
I feel for you Dee, and everyone who suffered, and whose gardens suffered through such intense heat and drought, as well as other extreme weather events around the country this year. We got a taste, an inkling of the heat, humidity, and drought in July, but nothing like you all southwest of us experienced. My heart goes out to you. May fall’s weather bring refreshment to your spirit and to your garden.
I hear you, Dee. In fact, I’m posting about the summer from hell tomorrow myself. My xeric garden looks OK, but I see the losses, even if no one else does. But what I’m really mourning is the garden’s future. I fear that if the drought continues (and it’s expected to through 2012), we won’t be able to water at all, and then everything will die. I am anxious to take out more lawn and replace it with water-thrifty gardens, but even those need water to get established, especially the first year, and how am I going to accomplish that in a drought? Do I continue to garden…or wait to see what another year brings? These are the questions that keep me up at night.