Begging for it

Yes, I’ve begged for an end to our fourteen month spell of incessant rainfall, and here it is. Predictably, I’m not so happy now that the ground is parched, but showers are in the forecast, so perhaps this dryness will not persist long enough to cry “drought”.

The first flowers of toad lily (Tricyrtis) in late July.

Parts of the garden are dragging in this two week period of heat and barely a drop of rain, and I think plants that are plump from a damp spring must suffer more while being weaned from constant moisture. Despite the gardener’s griping, there are periods when rainfall is just right, though few in the past year when much of the garden remained saturated.

Gordlinia and Little Lime hydrangea flower, with a variety of budded toad lilies in the foreground.

I am pained by the loss of a Japanese Umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) planted earlier in the spring. The roots of the evergreen were bare of soil and exposed to multiple freezes prior to planting, so its death in the summer heat is not a tremendous surprise. Could I have nursed it through with careful watering? I don’t believe so, but that was not a part of the equation from the start, and I didn’t pay a cent for this tree that seemed certain to perish. So, the only thing lost was the effort. My wife reminds that the Umbrella pine was planted in an inappropriate spot (she is probably correct), so she is happy with the loss.

Deer nipped the tips of this Indian pink (Spiegelia marilandica), so it is flowering a month late.

I continue an internal debate to choose which of the potted trees sitting on patios will go into the ground to replace the Umbrella pine. Korean Sweetheart, Dove tree, or one of several Japanese maples? All are a bit smaller than I’d prefer, but I potted them to hold for an opening, and here it is.

Flowers of Tardiva hydrangea are not as showy as newer paniculata varieties.

Also, a variegated leaf ‘Celestial Shadow’ dogwood has only a few live leaves remaining, probably soon to be another (and hopefully the last) victim of the constant swampiness of the lower third of the rear garden. The dogwood is hardly seen, with a gold tipped cryptomeria (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan-sugi’) growing closer every year, so I will leave it, possibly until spring to confirm it’s death.

A variety of Pineapple lilies are in various stages of bloom.

Still, I’m not discouraged. Despite typical summer temperatures, several transplants have been moved to fill the spot vacated by the Vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) that was chopped to the ground. I expect suckers to sprout from the witch hazel’s roots in spring, and now I am undecided if these will be encouraged or pruned away. More plantings will be done once temperatures cool a bit, and of course when there are better prospects for rain.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Don Peters says:

    Speaking of trees, do you have a mimosa tree in your yard? I love the look of its flowers, although I’ve heard they can be “messy” trees. To my great surprise, I just saw one here in the Nashua, NH area, which is in a zone that is supposed to be far too cold for them.

    1. Dave says:

      Years ago I planted a small mimosa. Two days later deer ripped a lower branch, then another the next night until only the mutilated trunk was left. I decided this was probably not a good tree for this garden.

  2. Linus says:

    Which dove tree were you going to plant? My Lady Sunshine lost its leaves early (may need to replace it; Susanna Tree Farm had a beautiful specimen), but Sonoma seems fine.

    1. Dave says:

      At the time, Lady Dahlia was the only variegated Dove tree available for a reasonable price. Its variegation is not very distinct, but I’m happy to have it.

  3. The English Gardener says:

    In looking at evidence based data from around the world we can expect an increase in the temperature and possible reduction in moisture? The UK has had record breaking high temperatures.
    I’m afraid I have lost my Daphne Odora that I had grown in a pot for two years and decided to transplant outside in early spring.
    That loss pains me as I agonized over it for the two years that it was in the pot.
    Went on holiday last weekend, the hottest days here in central Virginia near you, and when I came back every leaf was brown.
    I have watered it and will watch it carefully with the hope that the roots are still alive.
    I feel your pain, however, I paid quite a bit for my Daphne.
    The English Gardener

    1. Dave says:

      I hesitate to blame every weather event on climate change, but there’s no doubt it’s happening.

      1. The English Gardener says:

        Lesson to me, to not leave my garden during the hottest days of the year without making arrangements for back up watering.
        I have not trimmed off the brown leaves from my Daphne. What would you as the expert do?
        Thank you Dave.

      2. Dave says:

        My experience with daphnes is that once they appear dead, they’re gone. I’ve seen that daphnes are very site specific. They thrive in a narrow range of sun/shade, but struggle in other spots. Struggle often means little growth and their eventual demise.

      3. The English Gardener says:

        Thanks for your advice. My “new” garden has benefited from the guidance in your blogs.
        That little Daphne was doing so well in its new location that I will have to take responsibility for it’s demise. But I will miss the sweet fragrance from the flowers as I walk up my pathway.
        I will put a full size Limelight hydrangea paniculata that has outgrown it’s pot in the Daphne’s place. They are tough as nails!
        By the way, I am very fond of the Tardiva hydrangea and had one in my N C garden but have not been able to find one here in Virginia. And rarely the lace caps that I love. As I’ve said before, mop head hydrangeas are not my favorite but I still have many in my garden. I just love to grow stuff!

      4. Dave says:

        I’ve recently ordered Brigg’s Moonlight daphne, with reverse variegation of Carol Mackie, that I’d grown for years until it was finally overwhelmed by a wide spreading sweetbox. Since the daphne will start out small it will need careful placement, but it and another Carol Mackie will ne planted close by the area where other daphnes are thriving.

  4. tonytomeo says:

    Goodness! Two week drought!? We got lots or late rain this year but sometimes get nothing between April and October. Trona gets about four inches of rain annually. Roofs are more important for shelter from the hot sunshine than from the rain.

    1. Dave says:

      Regular rainfall is the reason we have foliage that persists through the summer without irrigation, though irrigation systems are much more common than twenty years ago.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Here where we should be landscaping less area, we are constantly expanding landscapes into forested areas that would be fine with nothing more than what is natural. Irrigation systems make it possible to waste more water than we are already wasting.

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