After a cool and relatively rainy spring the garden is lush with growth, but after the first bout of intense heat this week more than few plants are drooping at midday. For most plants this isn’t a concern, and many bigleaf hydrangeas wilt in the afternoon sun almost every day from now until September. Still, parts of the garden don’t look as happy today as they did a week ago.
Plants that are adjacent to areas of stone (patios and walks, or the large boulders that surround the large swimming pond) dry out quickly in the reflected sunlight, so those must be selected with care. I’ve occasional problems with plants that would not tolerate the increased heat, but hens and chicks (Sempervivum, above) thrive planted in pockets of soil between the large granite stones. I’ve planted an assortment of four or five varieties, all of which are commonly available, and they have slowly spread to cover the soil in these areas. One hens and chick has even sprouted in the fissure of a boulder that holds only a few teaspoons of soil. In the heat of summer it barely hangs on, but in cooler months it seems quite content.
The blooms are an unexpected bonus, and are hardly noticeable unless you’re looking their way. I regularly jump between boulders at the pond’s edge like a kid, and so I couldn’t help but see the odd flowers a few days ago.
While these nooks between stones are perpetually dry, much of the lower garden remains saturated to the point that I’m surprised not to see some plants suffering. Evergreens are most worrisome in wet soils, but few plants of any sort will tolerate damp conditions for long periods. Chinese Indigo (Indigofera kirilowii, above) has proven to be nearly indestructible, except where evergreens have shaded them. In sun and part shade they grow and bloom vigorously, even in soil that is wet a bit longer than most plants would prefer.
Every year I marvel that a dainty looking clump of Spiderwort (Tradescantia, above) is able to push its way through dense shade from a large tree lilac and overhanging nandinas. But, there it is, a bit larger than it was a year ago, and with clusters of small blue blooms arching over a large flat slab of stone at the edge of one of the garden’s ponds. I wouldn’t say that this area is densely shaded, but it has only a small sliver of space and no direct sun, yet it returns annually to surprise me.
I have been delighted by a recent addition to the garden. The starry blooms of the native Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica, above) are short lived, but the few small clumps have teased me so that I’m anxious to see them next spring. For whatever reason, spigelia is not more common, and even in discussions of native plants it is rarely mentioned.
The white blooming, low growing deutzia ‘Nikko’ is nearly past bloom, but the pink flowered ‘Magician’ (Deutzia ‘Magician’, above) has just begun. It is much more upright than Nikko, and I would consider it to be a bit coarse if not for the pink buds that form in mid May, then open to white edged pink blooms late in the month.
And now I’m off to the garden. I’m preparing to leave next week for a visit to nurseries in Oregon, and it will be a pleasure to step off the plane into the coolness and low humidity of the northwest. Before I set off, the Japanese irises are just beginning to flower, and I think by the weekend most will be in full bloom. With a handful of cultivars their flowers will stretch for several weeks, but I think that some photos a few days from now will be marvelous.
Also, more geraniums are blooming, and daylilies, and too many others to list, so that I don’t know when it will be possible to catch up with the goings-on. Well, I’ll do what I can, and a few blooms might appear a few days late.