I’ve returned from two weeks on the road for business. The garden seems to have survived, though barely a drop of rain has fallen in the three weeks of July.
While other parts of the country swelter in extreme heat, thus far my northern Virginia garden has experienced moderate temperatures and low humidity (at least for this area). Following abundant rainfall in May and June, less than one-tenth of an inch in July threatens to dry this once lush oasis to a crisp. Good fortune might bring some storms at the start of the week.
Few plants seem bothered by the dry conditions. Hydrangeas in sun wilt a bit through the heat of the day, but revive by nightfall. The remontant types, Endless Summer, Blushing Bride, Penny Mac, and Mini Penny are nearly in full bloom, though my wife occasionally cuts flowers to bring indoors or to give to friends. The past Winter killed several to the ground, but they have grown to more than three feet height and width, and bloom on new wood.
Two varieties of variegated leaf hydrangea rarely bloom (flowering buds don’t survive the Winter), but the foliage adds color to the Summer garden. This differs from the remontant hydrangeas that will bloom on new growth, and wood from the prior year.
Oakleaf hydrangea is a dependable bloomer and delightful shrub for the forest edge, with large, long lasting panicles. Today, Oakleaf has been showing color for more than a month, and the flowers remain attractive long after they’ve dried, followed by crimson foliage in the Fall. A wonderful plant.
Nearly in bloom is Tardiva hydrangea, soon to be a ten foot tall mass of white pannicles. I prefer the upright blooms of Tardiva rather than the old favorite PeeGee which flops about, dragging blooms through the mud. Limelight and others are similarly delightful, with color for well over a month.
The colorful leaves of Silver Cloud redbud light up the mixed evergreen and tree border, appearing from a distance to be in flower throughout the Summer. The colors fade somewhat as the season progresses, but still a highlight of the garden today.
Spraying a repellent has kept deer away from the hostas, but hasn’t deterred slugs. Most hostas have holes in their leaves, but the old time Great Expectations has escaped damage, and looks fresher in July than the newcomers. It profits from a location with good light but never any direct sun. A large Koeheanna holly threatens to overtake it permanently, so I must make a note to move it in the Fall. As you can figure, we’ve probably seen the last of Great Expectations.
On my recent travels through the southeast I’m certain that I saw thousands of mimosas, which seeds itself about with abandon. Mine is a young tree, planted earlier this year, but the flower (seed, whatever), a delight to children as it floats by, is a gem for all to appreciate.
While traveling I was expecting fewer blooms to report on in today’s journal, so I was pleasantly surprised to find more than the time allotted for today will allow. Before we close I must show the otherworldly seed head of the white clematis Henryi (though it could be Jackmanni since both climb through the same nandina). A similar photo several weeks prior did not properly show the beauty of this strange but beautiful seed head.