Finally, I’m able to walk into the back third of the garden without sinking to my ankles in mud. Forecasts predict that this short dry spell could end soon, but I’m thankful that I’ve been able to mow the small section of lawn without having to winch the tractor out (again). Besides the lawn, the wet early summer has not been much to complain about, though the gardener will always find something. Branch tips of ‘Skeeter’s Broom’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Skeeter’s Broom) have defoliated, I suspect due to the constant dampness, and though I don’t expect much in the way of growth this summer, I hope that there is no permanent damage to the roots.
This garden is not irrigated, so regular summer storms are greatly appreciated as long as winds are not severe (except in the small section that remains damp through the year). Many shrubs and perennials prefer damp to dry, so in late July there are few signs of the heat stress that is typical for mid summer. And, with plentiful blooms, there is a constant buzz from pollinators (above). Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is dangerously at peak bloom. The vigorously spreading native attracts numerous bees, hoverflies, and nasty looking wasps so that the gardener must take care not to venture too close.
Though it rarely persists through even our mildest northwestern Virginia winter, I cannot resist planting a few dozen bulbs of Abyssian gladiolus (Acidenthera murielae, above) every few years. I order these in mid winter, figuring that there must be too few blooms in August, though the number of flowers in the garden today surely dispels that thinking. In winter, it seems that there are always too few flowers, and there is certainly no harm in having a few more at any time.
In some gardens rose glorybower (Clerodendrum bungei. below) is an unwelcome and aggressive nuisance, but here it is too shaded to spread too far. Also, it’s planted beside mountain mint so the two have the opportunity to fight it out for dominance. So far, the mint has prevented glorybower from spreading, though the shade from a large katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is more likely to be the reason. While the flowers of the suckering shrub are lovely, I initially planted it when someone told me long ago that its foliage smelled like peanut butter. It does, somewhat, but unpleasantly, so I avoid touching the leaves as much as possible. It is quite convenient that the pleasantly scented mountain mint is only a few feet away.