In the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains hurricane Irene left barely a mark in the garden, with only a few inches of rain and a handful of fallen branches that were quickly cleared. Several lightly rooted plants were knocked askew, but I have straightened and tamped them or left them to work it out on their own, and expect that in a few days all will be forgotten.
The lights went out shortly before midnight, and over the next hours I heard the tall poplars and maples at the forest’s edge groaning as they swayed in the strong breeze. By good fortune, the winds were not severe enough to cause damage worth mentioning, but a bit further to the east others were not so lucky.
This day following the storm has been a pleasant sort, sunny and mild with a gentle breeze and lower humidity. A perfect day to stroll the garden to survey the slight damage, and then to double back to enjoy the day’s blooms. The lounge chair was set up again by the swimming pond, and the koi and I enjoyed the better part of the afternoon together.
The bees and butterflies have returned in the sunshine after staying sheltered through the stormy Saturday. The caryopteris (Caryopteris incana ‘Sunshine Blue’, above) and Seven Son Tree (Heptacodium miconioides) are buzzing, and I was surprised to find that after a month or longer the Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum, below) is still too dangerous to approach with many dozens of bees and hornets. No other flower in the garden comes close to attracting the quantity of buzzing creatures, and they seem in a foul mood when I come near (especially the hornets, which I don’t often see on other blooms).
While I was poking about I noticed that Ligularia dentata ‘Othello’ (below) was blooming under the weeping Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Pendula’) at the edge of the upper pond that borders our deck. I suppose I planted it when the cedar was considerably smaller, and now it can barely be seen, but it seems quite content. Ligularias prefer relatively damp soils (though not wet), and I have had poor experiences planting others at the edges of ponds where the soil stays a bit too dry, so I’m happy to leave this ‘Othello’ where it has thrived without any care on my part.
While fighting the lower branches of the Atlas cedar to get a better view of the ligularia’s daisy-like bloom there were a number of small dead twigs that dangled into the pond, and as I cleared out a handful or two there was a white waterlily (below) that could barely be seen from above. This portion of the pond is quite shady, and I cannot imagine how the flower got enough sunlight, but there it is, and I am not likely to crawl through the cedars branches to see it again.
For one reason or another (and I have given up hope of explaining these things) only a few of the variegated liriopes (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’, below) are blooming, though the spreading spicata types are all flowering (though they are not as showy). I expect that they will flower sooner than later, and if not, this will join a long list of garden mysteries that are probably easily explained by someone who keeps a watchful eye, which of course I don’t.
Between the garden shed and the swimming pond a dry stacked stone wall retains the pond, and there is a stone path beneath the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha) that allows the mower to pass to the lower lawn area. Along this wall the soil stays a bit damp, not wet, but too damp for Japanese windflowers (Anemone ‘September Charm’) to survive longer than a few years. I have fiddled with one plant and another in this spot, and usually moved them before they died, but now it appears that Blanket flower (Gaillardia ‘Goblin’, below) has settled in and will make a go of it.