It hasn't even been very warm for these past couple of weeks, and still I find myself in a hot, cranky, August kind of mood. Much of my garden is showing the effects of this month's drought, and while I admit that I kind of like the way it looks in the front yard, which was planted to be drought-tolerant, the back gardens are not so inspiring.
In fact, whenever I go out into the backyard, I find myself wanting to turn right around and go back inside, preferably to lay down on the couch and snooze for a few hours. Even the areas that "don't look too bad" make me roll my eyes. Here, for example, everything looks fine... except that there is no pizazz at all to this plant composition:
This picture prompts me to ask: WHY did I not plant my canna tubers this spring?! I carefully dug them up and stored them over the winter, but never got around to taking them out of storage when they should have been planted... they would have added some nice, thick-leaf contrast to this bed, like they did last year.
I've already posted about how I dislike the flower color of 'Matrona' sedum in my garden, but this year it looks particularly pretty in an overly-sugary kind of way. And it makes it even tougher to deal with my dislike when I see how much the pollinators love it. There are dozens on each plant, and some of these bees are as big as the tip of my thumb:
I have lots of projects to finish in the garden, too. We did get the rest of the crosspieces up on this big grape arbor (here you see just the first few) but it still needs to be painted. And then the 8ft. of 'Concord' grapevine that is rambling across the plants beside the arbor can be carefully laid on top:
This smaller grape arbor, where my 'Himrod White' grape is planted, is completed. But I still need to stain it AND the fence behind it (only the posts are completed right now), finish up the frames and pebbles for the path beneath the blue shelves, and plant a cover crop and mulch where you see bare dirt right now:
(Did you notice the apple tree leaning onto the ground, heavy with apples? I need to go out and thin those a bit. I have a post there waiting to prop up the tree itself, and right now the terracotta pot is helping out with a little bit of support... but I'm a little bit scared to secure it to the post now. I'm pretty sure it will snap off some of the branches if I do that, no?)
I love my little bluestem grass, but it is no longer upright in the back garden. I don't know if it sprawled because of the rain, because of the amaranth next to it, or because the dog tends to charge through the bed whenever she's chasing the squirrel. But it did this last year, too, and so I'll have to plan some sort of support system for it next year. Even if it does look kind of cool all spiralling down like this:
I hate ending such a crabby post on anything but a positive note... so let's go around to the front yard. I'm working on a post about the front yard and why I'm really loving it right now, drought and all. So I'll save those pictures for the next and instead show you my tropical smokebush, euphorbia cotinifolia:
As I mentioned earlier this summer, I got this plant from my aunt and uncle when I went back home for a visit. Becky mentioned that they would whack theirs back every spring before they took it back outside. When it became obvious to me after a month or so that mine was so potbound that I couldn't keep it watered... well, I whacked it back hard, and divided the rootball into sections that I repotted into a larger post with compost and potting soil. And then crossed my fingers.
It seems to be happier--less bare twigs and many more leaves--and even just started showing some of the pretty tricolor variegation that Don told me about this past weekend when I went home for a day:
I think it must have known that I was a little dismayed to have to tell Don that I hadn't gotten to see any of the special coloring on the new leaves, and so it decided to step up its game a little bit. Plants do that, you know--as soon as you decide to remove an underperforming plant, it will start to look lush and bloom to high heaven!
Maybe this complaining, crabby post will do some good after all... maybe it will provide a kick in the butt to a few of my other underperforming plants. (You know who you are, Japanese hollies, toad lilies, and that one 'Hameln' pennisetum that is smaller than the other two!) If only it would cause the underperforming gardener to get off her computer chair and grab a paintbrush, too... *sigh*