Bears and hydrangeas


Weeds seem more robust at the start of this summer than I can recall in some time. I’ve been know to ignore weeds a bit too long so that they’re allowed to go to seed (to multiply one into hundreds), and I suspect this is catching up to me. Now, the incessant weed pulling is infringing on my traditional early summer lazy period, and the time I spend browsing about the garden enjoying blooms of hydrangeas, stewartia, and whatever.

Of perhaps more interest, I spotted a black bear in the garden in early morning a few days ago, though I’m quite certain he has nothing to do with the proliferation of weeds. I’ve reported this to neighbors, and it seems that no trash cans were tipped over or jars of honey stolen, so there is no evidence that this large fellow was doing anything more than passing through. I checked the blueberries just in case, and they’re not quite ripe, so they weren’t disturbed. Besides this, there is nothing happening of great consequence.

A black bear photographed in a nearby neighborhood. He looks familiar.
A black bear photographed in a nearby neighborhood. He looks familiar.

I was out of town for a week, and suddenly weeds are popping up into any open space. And, with abundant rain the bamboo that was cut to the ground a few years ago is sprouting more vigorously than ever. This is more what I expected when the bamboo was first chopped down, and while it is still manageable, it is a chore that I would rather be over and done with. The weeds are a constant in this garden, but they are pulled a few at a time, and rarely do they get too far ahead of me. But, now they seem overwhelming. Anyway, once the heat gets up and the ground dries out a bit they will not be so bad. I hope.

Still, I have not cut down the dead magnolias and witch hazel. Through May I delayed the task, hoping against hope that they would miraculously recover, but of course I knew better. The ground remains too damp to work in the areas of the dead trees, and certainly it will dry out in July. There are no plans for immediate replacements, and the carcasses can barely be seen by neighbors, so there’s no hurry.Stewartia in mid June

With several days of hot temperatures the Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, above) passed beyond peak bloom quickly, and now the path beneath the tree is littered with browning white flowers. To be able to walk under the tree seems a miracle since it hardly grew at all for several years. But, as you would guess, as soon as I publicly complained it began to grow like a weed. Stewartia is a wonderful tree for patient gardeners, which I am not, and fortunately there were many other marvels to capture my attention while it was creeping along. I didn’t complain too loudly, I hope.

Healthy mophead hydrangea but no flower buds in June
Healthy mophead hydrangea but no flower buds in June

The mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla, above) were severely damaged by winter’s cold, and most were cut back as close to the roots as possible. Now, growth from the roots has covered dead stems, and a few long established shrubs have rebounded to nearly their full size. But, there are no flower buds, and I suspect it will be several weeks longer before any develop. Older mophead varieties such as ‘Nikko Blue’ flower only on last year’s wood, so these will not bloom until next spring, but reblooming varieties such as ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Penny Mac’ will flower this summer, sooner or later.

Twist n Shout lacecap hydrangea flowering in June
Twist n Shout lacecap hydrangea flowering in June

Lacecap hydrangea cultivars (above)  were not damaged, and they are flowering a little late, but as fully as ever. I’ve heard reports that some Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) suffered some injury, but mostly these escaped any serious damage and several are now flowering heavily in the garden. One was crushed and another damaged by an ice covered tree that fell in December, but even these have recovered to flower nicely. Who could blame a bear for wanting to stop by for a peek?

Abundant blooms on oakleaf hydrangea in late June
Abundant blooms on oakleaf hydrangea in late June


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Kathleen Webber says:

    Lovely bear photo. I’ve twice had the a bluebird house knocked over (with piles of blue feathers on ground). Between the sparrows, black snakes and now bears I don’t see how they the bluebirds survive. Noticed the lack of mop head buds also. Weeds, especially the dreaded nut sedge are luxuriant.

    1. Dave says:

      I do not include nutgrass when I complain about weeds. With the back section of lawn perpetually damp, nutsedge has become a part of the lawn.

  2. Sean says:

    As I consider moving from Brooklyn to upstate NY ( primarily to have more room to garden) I realize that the annoyance of feral cats and squirrels will be replaced by deer and (gulp) bear. I guess one learns to keep calm and carry on when encountering those unexpected visitors.

    1. Dave says:

      Deer are an every day consideration in the garden, but I’m guessing that I won’t have to regularly worry about bears. I hope not. I’m a large, slow moving target if they’re hungry.

  3. Love hydrangeas…luckily I don’t have bears.

    1. Dave says:

      Love hydrangeas too, and I didn’t have bears either, but now I do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s