Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer are here.

The steady rise and fall of cicada song greets me every morning when I step outside. It is the sound of an Alabama summer, deeply entrenched into memory from earliest childhood, but I am so accustomed to it that I hardly notice. But I cannot escape the heavy air, already sweltering so early in the morning; it feels exactly like the steamy remains after one shuts off a hot shower. The air smells ripe and moldy. I cannot stay out long, and I wonder how people managed before the days of air-conditioning. 

Watering is definitely the biggest chore in the garden now. With the high heat, many plants, especially those in pots, need a daily supply of water. Fortunately, we have not had a drought this year, and I look to the heavens in hope that watering duties may be suspended for the day.

It is amazing how one minute the sky may be bright blue, then moments later dark clouds are forming as hot, moist air rises rapidly into the atmosphere, fueling a thunderstorm.Torrid air collides with cooler air high above, and the unstable air tumbles violently. Above the freezing line, frozen raindrops crash into each other, creating electrical fields. Soon all this produces a boiling heap of black clouds, high winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightning and sometimes hail, on average releasing the energy equivalent of a 20 ton nuclear weapon: a typical summer thunderstorm, and I am relieved of watering chores for another day.

I took the following photos in my saturated garden after a recent thunderstorm: 


Close-up, Agapanthus

Anthony Waterer Spirea bloom

Unidentified mushroom

White Pine (Pinus strobus) needles

Southern Magnolia seed pod

Another storm is pounding away as I write this. Whatever the weather wherever you are, be cool!I took this photo a few years ago of Lucee, a friend's dog who definitely knows how to enjoy the dog days of summer!



Under the Dragon's Breath

July is here with the steamy breath of a dragon. To do any gardening I must wait for clouds to hide the white hot sun. Earlier this week we had a couple of days when I was able to begin a mid-summer spruce-up, pulling weeds and giving plants a dose of my summer tonic, consisting of 2 tbsp. of epsom salts and 2 tbsp. fish emulsion per gallon of water, applied to the soil around the plants. It takes a few days to get through the whole garden, and I did not make it. I wait for the next dip in temperatures. Anything below 90 degrees is close to refreshing.

Here is a tour of my garden that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. Though a virtual tour is very limited and lacks so much, at least you won't be sweating at the end of it.

I will begin with the front garden, which is very green. The pastel lavender blooms are crape myrtles:

The following image gives a good view of the front lawn and how the garden wraps around it. The woodland garden is located in the little valley on the other side of the driveway, seen in the distance. Lawns get a lot of negative press, but I love our zoysia lawn, which is maintained with organic fertilizers, applied twice a year. The birds love it, too. 

Touring the garden is not just about plants. I caught this Silver Spotted Skipper sipping nectar from our little Tutti-frutti Butterfly Bush, a small sterile shrub that blooms prolifically through the summer, as long as I keep it dead-headed:

These coneflowers are also a favorite of the pollinators, though I did not catch any butterflies or bees visiting them this time:

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' is an outstanding bloomer. I have never been disappointed in this shrub, which grows to about 8 feet. It likes more sun than other hydrangeas. I can see it from my kitchen window, and it gives me a lot of pleasure:

Here are assorted plants growing the large stone planter in front of the house:

More flowers in various places around the garden:Clockwise from top left: Eucomis; Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'; Campanula (Balloon Flower); Indigofera - this is a spring bloomer, but a few flowers persist; Agapanthus; Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan).

Once in a while I have to post a photo of Stump World, a twenty-five year old oak tree stump, which is a world unto itself, providing habitat and nourishment to untold numbers of little critters:

Here is an image from the edge of the woodland garden, looking out onto what I call the lower front lawn, limey green and full of interesting shadows:

And at last a look into the woodland garden, deep green and mysterious, a fascination of leaves of all descriptions:

Blessings to you all!    Deb