The heat of summer is likely to bring out the worst in any garden, and certainly one without irrigation. After an unusually hot August with barely a trace of rain, the garden is a bit more haggard than most years, though I don’t believe any permanent harm will come of it.
Summer is rarely kind to the garden’s hostas, but after too many hot days, and too little rain, a few more than I’d like are shriveled and crispy along the edges (above). Hostas growing in the shaded areas with deeper soils have weathered the heat with fewer problems, but in any spot with a part day sun the hostas are a sad lot. I have no doubt that all will be fine come spring, but they’ll be pretty sad looking until the first freeze kills the top growth.
While the summer’s heat could not be avoided, hoses could have been dragged about the garden to remedy the lack of rainfall. But, that would be too much like work, and as long as plants are not dropping off I’m not looking to do anything more than is necessary.
While I try not to go too heavy into characterizing plants with human characteristics (yes, I know, anthropomorphism), it seems okay to describe plants as “happy” when they thrive, or “sad” when they look sad. Today, unquestionably, too many of the garden’s hostas are sad. Several toad lilies (Tricyrtis) planted in nearly full sun are also a bit toasty, but the heat and dryness have not effected flowering, which is just beginning on most. Otherwise, it’s clear to see that the garden has just come through the summer, but I don’t think it’s so easy to tell this dry summer from any other.
This has been an unusual year for mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla). First, foliage began to develop early due to the extremely warm March. Then, new leaves were damaged by two freezes the second week of April. This resulted in dead stems on many hydrangeas, with the best being that leaves and overwintered flower buds were damaged. Starting over with new foliage caused a delay in flowering, and many mopheads did not recover in time to set flower buds before summer heat slowed them down.
There are rarely flowers on reblooming mophead hydrangeas through the heat of summer, but as soon as temperatures begin to cool in late August (not this year) or September (we hope) flower buds begin to form. If frost and freezes hold off, there are flowers in late September and through October. If the current heat subsides, perhaps there will be flowers in early autumn and gardeners can stop worrying that their hydrangeas will never flower again.