July 15, 2012

Gratitude for precious blooms and foliage

This Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up post comes with a sense of thankfulness, trepidation, and cautious hope.


Thankfulness for the 0.02 inches (yes, that’s just 2/100s of an inch) of rain we’ve received in the past three days after four weeks without a trace, and before that merely 0.31 inches since May; and thankfulness for my shady garden, which has sheltered the plants and animals from the worst of the extreme heat and drought.

Trepidation that the rain could halt again for weeks on end; that we’re heading into another extreme heat wave; and that, in any case, it’s too little too late to save the local Corn crop.

And finally, hope—that most living things will be able to recover from the driest June (maybe the driest month?) ever recorded in Dane County. June is usually the wettest month here, and the drought has come at a critical time in our short growing season.


Looking back through my main perennial bed in the back garden, you’d think it was fall. The ferns are burned and curled and the leaves on the scrub trees in the woods are turning yellow.

The drought and heat have killed numerous plants, bushes, and trees around town. The full toll isn’t tallied yet, and there are still many weeks to go during this hot, dry summer. But I’ll save more drought documentation for a later post.

On Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up, we celebrate the plants that survive, thrive, and put on a great show in our gardens. Most of these plants have been watered and tended. Without that effort, many would have been long gone by now.

I’m especially thankful for these beautiful blooms:


The Dwarf Korean Lilac is blooming again! I don't remember that ever happening before. And I've barely watered it, which makes it even more surprising.


The Daylilies continue their loyal show in spite of the heat and drought. They never seem to fail in the summer—no matter what the weather.


The double Hollyhocks seemed especially pleased with moisture from the sprinkler the other day.


Zinnias continue to bloom right through the heat, and they don't have as many Japanese beetles to contend with because of the drought, I guess.


Liatris have been watered; otherwise, I fear they would have perished.


The dear Hydrangeas are severely stressed—even with frequent waterings they wilt in the heat, and they're beginning to turn their fall colors.


Who can resist the creamy consistency of the Cosmos? I could photograph these beauties all day long!


The Black-Eyed Susans are taking the stage. They appear to have a minor disease on their leaves, but the flowers are gorgeous as always.


Large-leaved Hostas seem to produce the prettiest flowers. This one looks like a little angel in Lilac robes.


Bugbane was a little stressed when we got home from our vacation. But it looks like it will survive to bloom another season.


Purple Coneflowers have particularly large cone tops this year—maybe a sign of something to come?


Rocket Ligularia is stressed and past prime, but still lovely in its own way.

I'm also thrilled about this fantastic foliage:


Fern-Leaf Bleeding Heart is still blooming! It must enjoy the heat, as long as it's kept hydrated.


As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've barely watered the Cotoneater and it looks great. It's starting to set fruit, which will turn red later in the season.


I don't know what's prettier on the Cosmos plants—the flowers or the wiry, delicate foliage.


These Mums looked horrible a few days ago, but with water they perked right up.


Lamiums are tough. They simply need a light watering from time to time.


Sedum, a succulent, can withstand a bit of drought. But it sure looks lovely with drops of moisture dotting its foliage.


The foliage of Solomon's Seal overlapping a stubbornly surviving Fern creates a pleasant contrast of textures.


And one of my favorite foliage examples—the Lupine. Its flowers are long-gone, but it still continues to please with water drops collecting strategically on its face.

I don't think I'll ever take water for granted again. I've never seen anything like this terrible drought, and I've realized what an easy gardening season we had last year...and for every other year of my gardening experience, for that matter.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up!

36 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos as always :-) I so wish I could send you some rain, I have much more than I need, we are drowning here in Britain! Loved your double Hollyhocks, wish I had room for some of them in my garden.

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    1. Thanks, Helene! One of these days, we'll level out a bit--I hope. The days are getting shorter so that's helping with our scorching. You'll probably have a beautiful autumn like we did last year. :)

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  2. Liatris are super tough. I have a variety I never water. Some of the cones on my coneflowers are really big, too. I wonder if it's from our mild winter. Who knows? Your garden looks great despite the weather. :o) I can't believe your lilac is blooming again! WOW! I would take that as a gift.

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    1. Yeah, the Coneflower thingy is weird--maybe that means we'll have a snowy winter. My garden looks OK because I've been watering. But I noticed on my way home from work that lots of big, huge trees are dying. They don't look good at all. That is really sad. :(

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  3. Sorry to hear about your drought. I like how you described your hosta flowers as angels in lilac robes. Cosmos are a favorite of mine, too. I planted some from seed this year and they seem to be doing well.

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    1. Thanks, we're doing the best we can with a sad situation. My garden is doing OK. But the whole area looks awful. It's not the beautiful city (Madison) and town (McFarland) that I know and love. :(

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  4. I feel for you but as you've recognized it's also an opportunity to see which are the real garden superstars. Cosmos and lupines always seem to thrive.

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    1. Yes, that's true Karen. I will be planting more drought-tolerant plants in the future. No more Hydrangeas for me, although I won't get rid of the three that I have. I can't stand to dig up plants or let them die.

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  5. I am sorry about your drought. It doesn't take even a month for things to brown...we have had a dry week and the flowers turn very quickly. Last night a bit of blessed rain. Persevere.

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    1. Thanks, Layanee. It's definitely a lesson in how much water plants, bushes, and trees need. I appreciate your encouragement. I was very depressed on my drive home from work--seeing so many plants and trees dying in the 100+ dry heat.

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  6. I find it is really important to me to try and find beauty in difficulty. You did a wonderful job in this post find that beauty.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. That means a lot to me since I'm struggling to document this challenging season without being too pessimistic. This is the most challenging gardening season I've ever experienced.

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  7. Your garden looks beautiful despite the dry conditions. I hope you get some rain soon!

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    1. Thank you, that is very kind. Usually it seems like a cool respite from the heat. But every plant, tree, and bush was heaving in the heat this afternoon. And the birds looked so lethargic. We all need moisture now.

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  8. Beth, I can relate to everything you've written here. Except that we did get 2 inches of rain on Saturday, instead of the 2/100's you received. Still, it's going to take a lot more to help the garden, let alone the crops in the fields.

    But it is a time when we can appreciate those tough survivors in our garden--so many lovelies here; I think I have almost the same plants except for the bugbane and the ligularia. My cosmos are almost ready to bloom--yes, I love their foliage, too!

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    1. You're right, Rose. Getting that first soaking rain is just the beginning. We need several days of rain to really turn the weather pattern around. Fortunately, the days are getting shorter--I've never looked forward to that phenomenon before. Weird.

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  9. The drought has affected my gardens and surrounding area similar to yours. I appreciate the native flowers and shrubs which seem to be tolerating the heat and lack of rain, but even they appear stressed...

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    1. Rebecca: I agree with your sentiments entirely. Generally, the natives are doing quite well. Although some of them are struggling (Mayapples, Ferns) while nonnatives are flourishing (Cotoneaster, Pachysandra, Zinnias, Queen Anne's Lace). But this is the extreme of what we get here in the north, so I guess that's not surprising.

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  10. I am so sorry to hear how bad the drought is there. We lived through it last year, but so many plants perished. I hope you get rain soon, and hopefully the farmers will be able to salvage some of their crops. You have a lot of beautiful blooms despite the drought.

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    1. I know you had the challenge last year. Now I realize how difficult it was--well, at least I realize how difficult an extremely severe short-term drought is. The farmers are starting to harvest their crops for what they can get for silage. Now I'm starting to really worry about the trees.

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  11. Beth I am amazed how lovely your garden still looks...my daylilies are just amazing too...but I am seeing signs of fall as well and our weather is like yours as are our trees, lawns and gardens...we had .25 inches that didn't even penetrate the first level of soil...the weather has no relief in sight...rain keeps missing us and heading N and S of us. Nothing we can do at this point...

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    1. Thanks, Donna. The garden looks OK close up, but not so much when you step back. I know the feeling about the storms raining all around you. I can't believe I was happy about 0.02 inches of rain, but it hadn't rained for so long it just felt good to realize someday it will rain again. I'm ready for fall, and that's not like me at all. I hope you and I both get rain in the next week. :)

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  12. Thanks for showing off your lovely foliage (and blooms) despite the drought. I feel for you -- Texas suffered terribly in a drought last year. As a gardener and someone who loves the natural beauty of our area, I fought despair during that drought. I am glad that you've had some rain and are looking on the bright side, and I wish you much more rain to come.

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    1. Yes, Pam, that pretty much sums it up for me, too. It's one of those clubs you don't want to join. But now that I've seen it firsthand, I can truly empathize with other drought sufferers. I'm not too hopeful for rain, but I will celebrate when it finally happens--if it doesn't come down too fast.

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  13. Drought is appalling to live with, especially if you see crops battling. I do hope you will get enough rain.

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    1. That is so true, Diana. I know you've had to deal with it, too. I can see that dry climates are tough for gardening. But then again, it's an entirely different garden to start with. Ours is supposed to be temperate (in the summer), with plenty of rain through most of the growing season. A little drought for a week or so is one thing, but two months long with crops involved is tragic.

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  14. I suppose we can mark it up to experience. A bad one. Yes we I burning up also with projected temps over 100 for the next two weeks. Yuk. It is amazing how resilient some plants are however, at the end of the day they seem to perk back up.

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    1. Yes, that is true and well-said. It's amazing what a little water will do--even with the heat. Temps above 100 for two weeks--that would be rough, especially without rain! Reminds me of Branson, where we vacationed in June.

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  15. in regards to the large cone on coneflowers. I believe it to be a defense mechanism by the plant to produce a more vigorous seed.

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    1. Good to know--I wondered if that was the case. More seeds for birds and animals, too, which would be helpful if we have a tough winter. Thanks for the info!

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  16. Hi Beth, I wonder if I will remember all I wanted to say as I was reading and looking at your photos. First, I love that swing! Also, I have never grown bugbane. I think that was my favorite of your blooms. I didn't get any cosmos planted this year. Your foliage sure looks good.

    I've been watering quite a bit, partly because I have new plants in. At some point, I'm hoping we won't have to as much. Well, actually, I hope we get cooler temps and some much needed rain.

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    1. Thanks! The swing was here when we moved in, but last summer my husband painted it burgundy to add a little snap of color. Thanks for your comments on the plants, too. The Bugbane (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a fascinating plant. It looked forlorn when I came home from work tonight, but we just got a nice little rain. I am praying for rain for you and for the rest of the heartland!

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  17. So glad you're able to keep things going in spite of the horrible weather...it's testament both to your dedication and the durability of some plants!

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    1. Thank you, Scott. Suddenly, the soil is drenched with 3-4 inches of rain in the past two days. Too late for the Corn crop, but most of the mature trees seem OK--I was really starting to worry about them.

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  18. Oh just love your array of blooms - so many and so varied. I love the Cone Flower pic - is that Echenaceia (?) And lupins - I am looking for seeds everywhere, but can't get hold of them. Will keep looking.

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    1. Thanks, Barbie. Yes, Purple Coneflower is the U.S. common name for Echinacea. I should have listed the Latin names, but I've been pushed for time lately. It always seems like I have to scrimp in some area to get everything done. Sorry. Hope all is well with you!

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