Sunday, July 15, 2012

July sizzle

Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!  It's been hot and mostly dry in Maryland zone 7a (though we've had a little rain) and this is the time of year I think I have no flowers.  But some of them hang on, loving the heat or fighting through it.

Here's my most dramatic bloom, a hardy hibiscus (Disco Belle, I think) that I grew from seed ages ago.  Unfortunately it is being dramatic in the direction of the neighbors' yard, but at least they can enjoy it.  It really is huge (balloon flower for comparison).

Also a drama queen, this green gladiolus.

Purple coneflowers are reliable in the heat.  They do insist on seeding themselves in inconvenient places, but I don't mind, and I love watching the finches feeding on them in the fall.

Daylilies are still in bloom - here are the red ones I forgot to include last time.  They may be 'Black Knight' but I had several dark reds and they've been moved around, so I don't know.

Calendula, with bee.

This is in the MG demo garden, not my yard, but I'm including it anyway.  It's tithonia 'Aztec Sun.'  Mexican sunflowers are usually orange, but I like this milder yellow as an alternative.  Next year maybe I'll combine the two.

This is a flower cluster from Sophora japonica, Japanese padoga tree.  It's nice to have a tree that flowers this time of year, and it's a pretty tree, but I wouldn't recommend it, because it self-seeds with a vengeance.  We also made the error of planting it next to the driveway, with this result:

Constantly - it's like a snowstorm whenever I drive away.  And they leave a sticky residue.

Hope your gardens are flowering and flourishing!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Worms Survive Despite Unforgivable Neglect: News at 11

I finally got around to putting a new level on the worm bin today.  In recent weeks months all I've been doing is chucking an occasional food scrap in there (worms eat much less than one thinks in the beginning) and not even renewing the bedding.  But they are still alive, and in fact there are baby worms, so things must be going fine.  The Worm Rebel Alliance continues to operate at the top of the bin, but perhaps this impulse to climb will get them through the holes and into the new bin, which has been provided with lots of bedding and some pieces of cantaloupe rind.

Worms, I promise to gaze on you more often.  Now keep making compost.  And please don't climb up the sides between the two bins, or you will be squished.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I suppose I should write something about the horrible summer.  Every year I get rather depressed about gardening at this time, and this July is worse than usual.  I believe this is the 11th day in a row with temperatures at least in the 90s and mostly in the upper range of that (we are spared the city heat, but it hit 105 in DC yesterday), and nasty humidity until it gets really hot, and very little rain.  What rain we had came in the form of a derecho, which is a storm that comes straight at you (opposite of a tornado, you see), last Friday night: furious winds, intense lightning, like a thunderhurricane on speed and hair straighteners.  Trees were down all over, people died, the region declared a state of emergency.  We lost only branches and our power was only out for two days, which was lucky (some people are still without power 8 days later).  And my rain gauge recorded only 1/2 inch, although a lot of the rain came sideways, so who knows.  The whole thing lasted less than half an hour.  We've only had a gentle shower on 4th of July morning since then.  (It was the lowest-key 4th I've experienced in a while - most fireworks displays were canceled because of the heat and power loss and the need for emergency personnel to occupy themselves elsewhere - though there was a gorgeous moon.)

We have no water when the power goes out, but since Sunday I've been trying to keep things watered: the seedlings still on my deck, the pots, what little is in the vegetable garden, the young trees.  Luckily I forced myself out last Friday morning (before the storm) and rescued the trees from encroaching weeds, mulched, and placed unfortunately bright blue buckets (the new Lowe's color; I was counting on their old gray ones) with small holes in the bottom on the soil.  They can be filled to let the trees soak up water slowly.  (Though not slowly enough, since I put too many holes in.  I may transfer these to the tomato bed and get new ones for the trees, with just two tiny holes each.)

I waited too long to rescue the winterberries I planted last fall; their area had never been cleared out properly and is full of pokeweed and wild grape vines.  I think the two females may survive, but the male looks like he's had it, so I'll have to get another.  This is the problems with planting things in our Way Back; the weeds have a huge head start.  The whole back slope project I wrote about last fall is not looking good; pokeweed is winning there too, though a lot of the daylilies are up and blooming.  In other depressing news, the pomegranate may be alive but I can't see it producing anything this year or surviving another winter.  (The fig looks great, though.)  The viburnums are still in pots and will stay that way until fall.  I'm hoping to manage some weed control and some transplanting into larger pots when the weather clears, which should be tonight.  Temperatures in the 80s will feel positively chilly.

More soon, I hope - need to get back in the habit of posting frequently.