The dog days of July


The new hound in the neighborhood came to visit Sunday, foraging through the garage for tasty treasures, skittering away when I opened the door on my way to the garden. His small, fur ball companion lingered to yap a bit, then scurried back to the calls of the neighbor. Down the path to the rear garden I spied one of the local cats, no doubt considering himself a skilled bird hunter (though he always goes home empty handed).

DOG1Nowadays, my wife and I have only loaner dogs, a brief overnight or two stay with our son’s greyhound, who carefully steps his way over the rugged stone paths. Quite a contrast from the floppy eared sister hounds (Daisy and Minnie,at left) who grew old in this garden, who bounded and tumbled as pups, dug until the garden was rid of moles, and who rested their weary old bones in the shady stream. They collected gardening shoes, and oddities of every sort from the neighbors’ garages, and invited themselves to many a nearby cookout.

Gardening is easier without hounds, but not better.B 033

Most recent stray thunderstorms have managed to avoid the garden, or rained enough just to keep the dust down for a few hours, not nearly enough to replenish the abundant moisture from several weeks past. The hostas and many perennials have lost their early vigor, but others are remarkably fresh, at their peak during the dog days when heat and humidity stress the garden and gardener.B 005

The cool early Summer has delayed the blooming of crapemyrtles. Even the large growing white Natchez, which can flower in mid June, has just begun to show color in this northern Virginia garden. Sioux and Pink Velour have followed closely, but Arapaho and Centennial Spirit are budded and a week or two from bloom.

The dwarf Cherry Dazzle crapemyrtle suffered damage when my wife got a bit carried away burning sticks in the firepit, but the singed leaves were quickly pruned away. It is just beginning to bud, I’d guess that blooms will appear in two or three weeks, and stay in full color until the end of September.P1012058

P1011979The Pineapple lily (Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ – in bloom above, and looking very pineapple-like three weeks ago at left) next to Cherry Dazzle was also damaged, but the flower remains intact. As soon as the bloom fades I’ll allow the neighboring variegated caryopteris to cover it.P1012047

The variegated green and white leafed caryopteris has lagged behind all year. It came out of dormancy late, was slow enough to grow that I feared it wouldn’t, and now is well behind the yellow leafed varieties that are beginning to flower. The contrast of bright blue blossoms and foliage of the old Worcester Gold or improved Jason’s Sunshine is a delight. I seldom meet a soul who is not enchanted by caryopteris once they have seen its display.

Each stroll through the garden brings pleasant surprises, sometimes a forgotten daylily is found tucked beneath a holly grown unexpectedly large (not anticipated, but I should know these things if I gave it more than a second’s thought), or a magical color combination. P1011990

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is scattered through the garden, poking its sword-like leaves from under that and between this to find the sun. Near the driveway it flops over the dwarf blue Globosa spruce, though it was not so blue the past couple years after it was transplanted from some other location where it had probably gotten in the way. I have been known to “snatch” larger transplants, rather than taking the proper time to perform the task properly. The result is a sulking spruce, off color while deciding whether to succumb or not.

So, this combination did not exist prior to today. Perhaps it is hideous to others who see colors better than I, but I thought the combination was wonderful.

And now I’ve gone on far too long for one day, so I’ll close with the last of the Oriental lilies (or Asiatic, I don’t recall. Nor do I know the variety since I bought an inexpensive mix. I know, I can be of little help in recommending plants when I don’t know what I’ve planted.) P1012060

Nearby the giant white Calla lily is struggling since some manner of wildlife dug the largest part of two bulbs that had proven quite dependable through several Winters. It will not bloom this year, but I’ll make note to protect it this year, a reminder of times when the hounds would bury bones and sticks, and perhaps dig just for enjoyment. That, I will not remember fondly.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Beckey Lund says:

    I really enjoyed your blog this morning. Your photos WERE magazine quality for sure. I especially like the photo of the pup in your stream-pond. I only recently discovered your garden centers and like the way they’re set up – rambling farm like places, soothing and pretty.

    They remind me of my days growing up in Davidsonville (farm and horse fun) and Annapolis (dog and water fun). We just moved out of Annapolis to a new old house in Davidsonville where I have lots of shade to figure out. Having had only sunny yards in past years, I’ll need new skills to nuture this place. I’m getting to know the house and yard slowly, savoring every moment.

    I’ll continue to read your very cool blog.

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