Heck, here it is late August and the grass is green. Not that I care much if the lawn turns brown for a month, but this never happens, or at least rarely, and there’s no secret why the lawn and garden are much greener than usual at this time. Rain, lots of it, and milder temperatures, with few days in the nineties and fewer days of more extreme heat.
While the garden is not irrigated, most plants are long established, and these suffer only a little even in the driest and hottest summers. Typically, there are more problems with summer maladies such as mildew and black spot than fading due to summer’s heat, and happily, this August there’s hardly a sign in the garden that we’re heading into the last few weeks of summer.
There’s always something flowering in the garden, and it should not be much of a challenge for the gardener to find sturdy shrubs and perennials that flower dependably in late summer.
At one time I nearly swore off azaleas. This is long ago enough that I don’t recall if there were a dozen, or two, but between insect and clay soil problems the number dwindled each year. Finally, only a group of three Delaware Valley Whites remained, with no plans to ever plant another. There are plenty of flowers in April without having to bother with azaleas, but then, I began testing repeat blooming Encore azaleas, and trying out a few became a dozen, then more.
Fortunately, something about Encores made them more resistant to lacebugs, which were my biggest problem, so now there are azaleas blooming in spring, but also late summer into early autumn. With plenty of moisture and mild temperatures more typical of September, several of the Encores are flowering weeks early.
Recently, I wrote about bluebeards (Caryopteris) that were once crowded, so stems have grown several feet into the driveway. Every afternoon my wife tells me that she’s headed out with her pruners, but so far I’ve been able to distract her, and possibly the chopping will wait until flowers begin to fade. I believe that with radical pruning in early autumn I’ll be able to encourage branching into open space, and away from the driveway, or at least that’s the story that’s saving the bluebeards for now.
Unrelated to the two bluebeards along the drive, the later flowering ‘Hint of Gold’ is approaching its peak bloom, though one of three is having a problem, possibly due to too much rain. I’ve seen this before, and usually the effected parts must be pruned out before the problem spreads. I’ve delayed too long on the one, so only a stem or two are left, and I’m hoping that it will be okay next year. In fact, the spot is so congested that I’ll probably not even remember it’s gone next spring, but I’d rather it stay.