A difficult late summer

September was difficult, not unusually so, but relatively hot and dry after a mild and wet earlier summer. Leaves of neighborhood sycamores are withered and brown, and though stress is less evident on other trees, continued dry weather could result in poor coloring of foliage in weeks to come.

While hostas and other perennials show stress from the late summer drought, Chocolate Joe Pye weed is at its peak.

Perhaps cooler temperatures will ease effects of the current dryness, and of course, there could be a turn back to regular rainfall. Dry or not, this should be of little concern for well established plants that will soon be headed into dormancy. There is some small concern, however premature, that some broadleaf evergreens must be hydrated going into winter to prevent injury if there should be prolonged periods of freezing temperatures. There will be greater concern if dry weather continues through October.

One of two new toad lilies (Tricyrtis flava) planted in this spell of dry weather.

I have planted several azaleas and mahonias, a few toad lilies (above), and a fragile looking pot of Paris polyphylla (below) in recent weeks, and it is only the new plantings that I will watch until our next soaking rain. My penchant for neglect of new plantings has lost too many treasures, and I am determined to do better this time with Paris and a yellow flowered toad lily that have been disappointing failures in prior years.

Unusual flowers make Paris polyphylla worth trying after repeated failures. I suspect previous locations were too dry and sunny.

A sip of water a few times a week until the next rain should keep everything growing, and I’ve left a five gallon bucket on the patio by the koi pond as a reminder. A half bucket twice a week will be enough for the toad lilies and Paris, and I don’t expect the few shrubs will need anything at all. A few potted Japanese maples on the patios are looking pretty dry, so a half bucket for each will also be necessary. I’m not good at remembering to do such things, so I hope for rain.

There will be no colorful autumn leaves on the Golden Full Moon Japanese maples. Few leaves remain on the tree in early October.

While not too unusual, serviceberry, river birches, and the purple leafed European beech have dropped most leaves already, and several Japanese maples are nearly bare. The Golden Full Moon maple often displays exceptional autumn foliage color, but this year there will be no leaves, so no color. In similar conditions, the fernleaf Japanese maple has hardly dropped a leaf. In several weeks, its foliage will be delightfully colored, despite the difficult late summer weather.

Autumn colors of the Fernleaf Japanese maple are the best in the garden. The tree shows little sign of the recent dry weather except a few scorched leaves, so this should not effect the splendid autumn colors.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Dan says:

    love the fernleaf Japanese maple you noted. How do you recommend someone buy one in Maryland? if nurseries do not have in stock, is there a website you prefer?

    1. Dave says:

      Meadows Farms garden centers typically stock small Fernleaf Japanese maples in the spring. For hard to find Japanese maples, I’ve purchased through Japanesemaplesandevergreens.com with good success. The trees are small, but typical for mail order at somewhat reasonable prices. Still, prices for a maple found in a garden center will be substantially less expensive than through mail order, and even small sizes will be much larger than what’s available by mail.

  2. The dry, hot Sept. has some things getting crispy here outside of Luray. We even dug up a couple young trees we planted in the Spring and put them back in pots in an effort to revive them.

  3. Donna says:

    I love the way Toad Lilies multiply after just a few years in the garden, and that they seem to do well with just morning or filtered sun. Is the yellow variety still available? Thank you!

    1. Dave says:

      Many of the less common toad lilies I’ve purchased have been through Far Reaches in Washington state. I see they are sold out of yellow flowered toad lilies.

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