With one hundred degree temperatures and parched ground only a few weeks ago, I’ve no doubt that many area gardeners were praying for rain, and sho’ nuff, here it is. In my garden I’ve had nearly ten inches this week, on top of several inches from the hurricane and assorted storms a week earlier, and others in the area have gotten over twenty inches (and counting). If plants are in standing water that persists longer than a day that can be a problem since most will tolerate only short periods of flooded soils, but the soils in most gardens are only saturated, and I’ll bet the barn that sooner than later the rains will subside.
Maybe by tomorrow, and then the sun will pop out and plants will be happy, very happy! Before the recent deluge there had been sufficient rainfall to revive plants from their heat induced stupor, and now heavy rain over a period of days has percolated deeply into the soil. This dampness will persist for weeks with cooler September temperatures, so conditions will be ideal for growth and flowering.
I haven’t been around the garden much for a few days, but during a brief break in the monsoon I took a waterlogged stroll to see if there were any disasters to address. Fortunately, there were none. There’s a bit of standing water in the back garden, but not enough to worry about, and it will be gone with the first sunny day.
I believe that at this time a year ago I planned to do some serious chopping of the sweet autumn clematis (Clematis paniculata or C. terniflora, above) that is climbing through a tall threadbranch cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera aurea) after it finished blooming, and of course I didn’t, so it’s back and flowering again. Somehow, it doesn’t appear to have grown much this year, and perhaps it’s a bit smaller than a year ago (if that’s possible). So, the aggressive vine has done no further damage to the cypress, and I’m likely to let it go for another year.
(I’m a big believer in delaying projects, and often the need to do them goes away. Trees that fall are unsightly for only a year or two before they rot, and piles of leaves and debris decay even more quickly. My wife finds this attitude incredible, but if I ignore her reminders long enough she usually gives up. If not, she offers to take care of the task herself, and she knows that I’ll do just about anything to keep her from “helping” in the garden.)
The yellow leafed aralia (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, above) is blooming, and as expected the flowers are unremarkable when compared to the brilliantly colored foliage. Still, the small, globular white blooms are unusual, even if they aren’t very showy. The foliage is quite splendid for a shady spot, where the bright yellow shines, and the aralia will grow to three feet (or more) tall and wide, so it works well planted to the back of the shady border. I’m certain that there are all sorts of amazing color combinations that are possible with such a bright yellow, and I’ve planted the annual, metallic purple Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus, below) in front. As color blind as I am, this will wake you up on a rainy afternoon.
A year ago I planted a few of the wonderful salvia ‘Black and Blue’ (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’, below) which is variously described as cold hardy to zone 7 or zone 8, and unfortunately it did not survive the winter. Many Mediterranean-type plants that are plenty cold hardy do not survive wet winters, and perhaps this is the problem with the salvia, though I’ve not seen anyone mention this. Nevertheless, I’ve planted ‘Black and Blue’ again, with hopes that a second chance might bring success. They bloom off an on (mostly on) through the summer, and with cooler temperatures in early September they are particularly floriferous.
Also, with cooler temperatures the Encore azaleas have begun their late summer bloom, and on the heavily shaded south side of the garden there were a few scattered flowers on ‘Autumn Twist’ (below) early in August. On older plants ‘Twist’ has branches that are nearly all purple, while others are striped with varying amounts of white and purple. The solid purple flowers are probably a reversion to ‘Autumn Royalty’, but if that is the case the reversion doesn’t seem to be taking over the plant, only select branches, so I see no harm and don’t plan to prune this section out.
Other Encore azaleas are heavily budded, and I expect flowering from the middle of September until frost, or into late October, whichever might come first. With damp soil conditions I’m looking forward to an outstanding late summer and autumn in the garden, and now if it will dry out enough for me to get around I’ll be happy.