Tag Archive for garden critique

A Long Goodbye to Summer Heat

This pretty lemon/lime coleus has done well in the summer heat. Watering at least once a day has been a key!

This pretty lemon/lime coleus has done well in the summer heat — watering it at least once a day has been the key! It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, too!

Here in the mid-Atlantic, this has been a really rough summer, and the climate change has been very pronounced. Officially, it is the second hottest summer on record. With well over 50 days of temps in the mid-90’s and higher, the plants and trees are struggling — so much so that I am rethinking the location of many different plants in my garden. The micro-climate in my yard is hotter than the officially recorded temps by usually around five degrees. I think that is mostly due to the fact that we don’t have many shade trees on the property.

It’s a good time to take inventory of how the plants are faring. I think it’s interesting to compare how the same variety of plants do on various sides of the house, getting sun at different times of the day.

I am concerned about a row of euonymous that I planted along the front walk. Each spring, they start off looking amazing and full but lose their leaves by the end of summer, leaving them looking like bare stalks — not pretty. Those will be removed, and in their place I will add more liriope, and just fill the walkway garden with it, since it has done exceptionally well in that exposure.

The other hits in the front garden are the Hyacinth bean vine that I started from seed from last year’s winner, and also this gorgeous lemon/lime coleus with purple flower stalks. Both of these have been attracting butterflies and hummingbirds!

The purple flowering hyacinth vine has also come into it's prime in this heat.

The purple flowering hyacinth vine started from last year’s seeds has also come into its prime in this heat.

On the other side of the house in the east garden, I have a huge amount of beautiful white iris that are struggling in the intense amount of afternoon sun, as well as lamb’s ears that are always looking bedraggled. They will both be removed as well. The garden on that side is now getting established, and the crepe myrtle trees have grown to a point that they are blocking an unappealing view, so I couldn’t be happier about that! I might not even install anything else in that garden, and leave them some extra space. Deep watering has kept them in good health, so just adding some extra mulch is all that is needed.

The underplanted iris and lamb's ears will be removed, and give the crepe myrtles so more space. They have grown quite a lot this season.

The underplanted iris and lamb’s ears will be removed to give the crepe myrtles more space. They are exceptional trees for hot climate and have grown quite a lot this season.


In the back yard, I have some renovating to do. After 20 plus years, and even a move from our old house to this one, the planters we built from pressure treated wood are on borrowed time. I am rethinking how we might rework a privacy screen for under the deck, and then add to the flowering bounty underneath. The knockout roses and beautiful peonies that I currently have in pots, as well as some of the white iris I am removing from the east garden will be planted there. I’ll increase the garden’s size to accommodate them as needed. They’re my “green children” after all!

I have a couple of beautiful photos to share of the Labor Day weekend’s sunset here, and a last photo of this summer’s front door — next time you see it, it will be decked out for autumn, and hopefully a lot cooler! Until then — Happy gardening!

The setting sun on Labor Day weekend from ythe front garden.

The setting sun on Labor Day weekend from the front garden.

And a minute later-

And a minute later-

Pink glow on the front door from the setting sun- goodbye summer!

Pink glow on the front door from the setting sun — goodbye summer! Hello Fall!









Perfect Time for a Garden Critique

With the Fourth of July here, most plants in the garden have filled out to their maximum for the year. This makes it the perfect time to take a critical look at their placement.

Lillies under a peartree in my back garden. These require careful division each year because they are exceptionally fast growing.

You can easily see which plants will benefit from a move in the fall. Even though I try to respect the garden tags which show mature sizes of the plants when I buy them, they are not always accurate. It is also the perfect time to look closely at the perennials to see which ones are candidates for being split. Long ago I heard a phrase that is very accurate about perennials: The first year they sleep, the second they creep, and the third year they leap. If you follow that rule, every third year or so you would split or divide them. I find it helps to keep a notebook on this, because as your garden grows, there can be a lot to remember! In my garden I do the plant moving between mid-October and mid-November, but in your region, just pick a time after they are past their peak for the year, but still have time for the roots to establish before the full effects of winter are upon them.

That brings up another topic — the effects of winter. We had a couple of severe winters recently, and with them a lot of snow damage. I try to remove all the broken branches, but then leave them alone for a year to see if they will recover, before reshaping them back to a natural point. By doing this you can see where the plant can redirect its existing branches, and if it can fill in the holes left by the damage. If it isn’t going to be able to heal, by that point, I like to replace it with another.

In this garden I will be adding 3 Crepe Myrtle trees to help with the intense summer exposure.

I also like to evaluate how the plants are doing with regard to the sun exposure that they get.  Even if a plant is one that can tolerate full sun, it may need some respite from the intense afternoon sun, or moved to a location that gets a half-day worth of sun.

It is also a good time to trim up the lowest tree branches. If you keep them limbed up to six or seven feet it makes it much easier to mow and to stand under them.

Not that I need any more reasons to go out and enjoy my garden, but it is really gratifying to walk the entire yard and check out how things have grown. It is an important step to critique and edit, and I love planning towards the next year and beyond. Time to go enjoy the fruits of your labor, and don’t forget your notebook!

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