Coping With the Weather

Once again, a weather report: Today's temperature was into the mid 90's, as it has been almost every day for months, and once again there was no rain. A week ago there were some showers, the first in nearly a month, but not a drop since. The ground is dust. This Red-shouldered hawk is as large as a chicken and is heavy for this birdbath. But I can't blame him for trying to cool off his tootsies!

We see the hawk often. He is welcome, as he helps to control our vole population.There is some chance of showers tomorrow, then no rain predicted for another week. The good news is that long term cooler weather is arriving this week, with temps only into the 80s, and I think steaming, mid-summer type weather will be gone until next year. Fall has arrived, although most leaves are simply shriveling to brown and falling off the trees.

It is so dry that even the weeds are suffering. (Of course, they have innumerable offspring sleeping in the earth, waiting for rain to awaken them!) We have allowed the lawn to turn brown, but we try to keep valuable shrubs alive with hoses and sprinklers. Despite our efforts, a half-dozen young gumpo azaleas have died. I will not replant them. Other azaleas survive, including long-established ones with good root systems and more recently planted deciduous native azaleas, which we have diligently watered. The native azaleas will eventually be more drought tolerant, but they need extra care in their early years.

I confess the droughty, hot weather has taken the joy out of gardening. My plans for transplanting a number of shrubs are on hold. I also have a row of young plants, purchased a month ago at a plant sale, lined up against the house foundation out of direct sun, next to an easily accessible water faucet. They wait their places in the garden, I must be patient. Surely the rains will come in October. October and November, and even later, is not too late for gardening here in Alabama.

I laugh at the thought of good soaking rain at last, just as temperatures plummet to the 40's.


First Fall Images 2016

Autumn officially begins this week on September 22. The dog days of summer have lingered endlessly with day after day of temps in the mid 90's. Even worse, we had almost no rain for nearly a month. At last there is hope, for we had some rain this weekend, though barely enough to wet the soil. The days are shorter, and mornings and evenings are finally cooler, giving proof that the earth is still rotating around the sun on its proper axis and a new season is coming, no matter what. 

Under misty skies I went hunting for evidence of fall today. A few leaves are changing on the trees, and there are a number of crinkly piles on the earth. Some are the result of droughty conditions, rather than the arrival of autumn.

Here is a welcome raindrop on a Japanese maple:This photo makes me sad. It is taken of the doomed Japanese maple I wrote about last week. We cut out a large section of the tree, but today I found new ambrosia beetle damage on a couple of the trunks we did not remove. 

On a happier note, I am seeing lots of butterflies.Cloudless Sulfur butterfly

I recently planted Asclepias, AKA Butterfly Weed, hoping to attract some Monarch butterflies. I was thrilled to see that it worked! I was watering the garden last week when a Monarch flew past me, headed for my new stand of Asclepias. I saw another one today, though he did not stick around to let me take his photo. Here is the Asclepias:

I can't take credit for the beauty of my Butterfly Weed.  It was already fully grown and full of buds when I bought it. I am eager to see how it does next year. I have planted Asclepias several times, and it has never done well. However, this is a different location, and so far the new plants seem far happier than the previous ones. 

I kept our hydrangeas watered during the weeks of drought, and I was rewarded with continuing blooms on my Endless Summer hydrangeas:I might tell the plant that I appreciate the flowers, but I am ready for summer to end!

My Deodar cedars are putting out fresh blue-green growth, an indication that cooler weather is coming:

But Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' shows no signs of the brilliant colors it will soon display:

This Coleus, called Freckles, has been successful this year with little effort on my part. I will take some cuttings and try to keep it alive indoors through the winter, so I will be assured to have some next year:

Am I the only one who thinks dried up seed pods are lovely? Here are some I found today:Hardy begonia seed pods

Finally, the blooms of Hydrangea 'Lady in Red' are aging gently into fall:

Have a great week!   Deb