The Angry Red Orb


First thing every morning upon waking, we schlep into the kitchen to prepare coffee. Really, my eyes and brain cannot function until the caffeine hits the gullet. Standing over the sink, filling the one quart glass Pyrex container with water, looking through the window we see the beginning of daylight peeking up through the neighbor’s trees. It is red, hot and angry looking. Scary, actually.


Going outdoors to take a long, thirsty look at the garden after being away from it for several days, it is noted that the ambient temperature outside is already much warmer than inside the house. That is unusual for this time of year, and somewhat alarming. Scary, actually. Rather than a quick peruse, it seems best to go back and get the camera, now. Already our body must be used to provide enough shade to capture the pulsing buds of the Eryngium yuccifolium as it climbs skyward. The light is too bright, even at the crack of dawn.


Just to the right is the shed bed, situated in such a way as to not allow for body shadow photographic trickiness. The self sown mix of Eryngium alpinums are also budding up, being helped to stand upright by a group of small metal container trellises. In previous years, bamboo and metal stakes were used to help the floppy steel blue stars of the summer garden. These black metal bits are much more attractive and easier to use around the garden whenever someone needs a lift. They were more of an investment, but will last long and do look more elegant. More are needed, naturally, but more were spied at the big box store yesterday, a good supply. Actually.


As we begin to feel a little dewy, perspiration causing our eyeglasses to start slipping downward as knees and head are bent to inspect this and that flower and bud, it seems best to quicken the pace. Heading back towards the house from the top of the property where the knot garden and shed reside, we take the less steep path that goes by the Heather Bed. This garden used to be mostly filled with various heaths and heathers but was given a redo a couple of years ago. The name remains the same. Astilbe chinensis ‘Pink Visions’ has been spread thickly and is coming into frothy flower. This is an example of how a closely planted mass of a single cultivar can make an impact. No shock collar needed for this planting to remind us to plant in such a way. For a change.


Over on the Eastern edge of our property, marked by the arbor, it appears steam is rising as the sunlight is turning into an Easy-Bake Oven. We had better put it into high gear here. Across the path from the Heather Bed is the Yellow/White bed, home to a few other colors for good measure. The gigantic glaucous leaves of Rudbeckia maxima are like flags on the stems, reaching nearly to the top of the old metal clothesline post that was inherited with the house next door that was torn down to build the garage. There are buds, poorly circled for better viewing. I had gotten fairly adept at the pen feature in my photo program on my other laptop, before it croaked. This new one has a different touch and we are still on the learning curve with it. My new Mother’s Day sculpture in the right background never fails to bring a smile. It is entitled Let It Rain. Quite appropriate, wouldn’t you agree?


Have I mentioned the temperature that greeted us upon our return from an enjoyable trip to Canada, one where the wool felted coat bought in England last year was worn every day? Mid nineties to upper nineties, a new record high every day, to continue for the foreseeable future with a very small chance of pop up showers. The poor garden, and gardener. Planting new purchases, dividing existing plantings must be put on hold with water, water, water on the to do chores list instead. These Hydrangeas, H. quercifolia ‘Alison’, H. macrophylla ‘Dooley’ and H. ‘Lady In Red’ look good in the early hours of the day, but are hanging their heads come afternoon. A consolation is that they bloom early in the season, before the brutal heat of a Southern summer hits us full on, usually.


Enough with the whining already. All is not doom and gloom here, not by a long shot. Following the path downward from the hydrangea area of rarified soil that was enriched by the fallen leaves and then rotting carcass of the large maple tree Ferngully, RIP, past the Black Garden on the left, finds the special spot delegated to grow on the daylily seedlings from crosses made two years ago. To read that story, click here. Some of the babies are budded nicely on stout stems, and one is blooming, number fifteen. The name for now is Faire Magic. They will all be given names with Faire in the wording. This is not a commercial endeavor, but is a fun, learning experience. Daylilies love the heat, the hotter the better for them, so this angry red orb is not a worry in their cultivation at all.


One step down from the compost laden daylily nursery is the raised box planter. It might be said that it has gone to seed and then some. The Cilantro is a tumbled mass of flowers, stems and seeds, forgotten lettuce is soaring to new heights, Borage is flopping over the edge of the box, the Eremurus is spent and the Swiss Chard planted at the front of the box a year ago last spring has bolted. The color of the stem is incredible, if inedible. Young plants will feed us, while these over the hill folk will give pleasure to the eyes.


Along the wall behind the main house is a gravel path filled with various containers. Some of these are permanent plantings, designed to survive winter’s chill and summer’s heat with minimal upkeep from a traveling gardener. Some are planted seasonally, like this standing wire planter, now sporting Calibrachoa, Coleus, Alternathera and self sown grass from last year, annual Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’. Seeing the baby grass plants in the planter was cause for joy. Perhaps they will continue to seed about for years to come, making for a happy tightwad and lazy gardener.


Due to excessive dawdling, lollygagging and lip flapping, it is now hot as blazes as the heat heavy sun hangs languidly above. Kitty says it is time to go inside. I agree. Can I interest you in a cool beverage?

Frances

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15 Responses to The Angry Red Orb

  1. Gail says:

    Morning Frances, That was a lovely tour~I enjoyed it thoroughly. Your Big leaf rudbeckia makes my heart go pitty-pat, but, that last shot with Kitty and the hillside makes it smile! xxoogail The sculpture is wonderful.

    Good morning Gail, thank for coming along. You know how hot it can get quickly, sorry to rush you. The hillside is a joy with those lilies and now daylilies. Kitty likes going with us, especially if we stop and give him an ear scratch. I can’t wait for you to see the sculpture in person someday, you will love it.
    xxxooo
    Frances

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The red orb is geared up here too Frances. Your garden looks like it didn’t skip a beat while you were gone. Isn’t it fun coming home to your garden after being away for a little while. I imagine it was quite a shock temperature-wise. I always like to see your collection of pots. That tall rudbeckia is most interesting. I don’t think I have seen it around here. When the cat wants to come inside during summer you know it is too hot to be out. Keep cool.

    That red orb is shining on many of us, Lisa, I am sorry to say. I hope all our gardens can survive this too early heat. Years and years of work in the garden is finally paying off, it doesn’t need me much anymore, thank goodness! I had never seen the tall Rudbeckia either, until reading about it in a British gardening magazine, even though it is native here. I am loving it! You too, stay cool.
    Frances

  3. commonweeder says:

    At least you have some shade in your garden. I am preparing for very unseasonal 90 temperatures here on my hill. Lots of watering. Lots of cool drinks waiting.

    We have a little shade, Pat, but not much. I will be thinking of you trying to deal with those awful high temps, do drink lots of water yourself!
    Frances

  4. Valerie says:

    Hot or not your garden is looking really good. I would guess you are at least a month ahead of us. We do not see the Astilbe till some time in July. V

    Hi Valerie, thanks. I am glad the Astible are early bloomers, they would fry to a crisp in July. Since we are now having July temps, they may burn around the edges even earlier than usual.
    Frances

  5. Kathleen says:

    omg, you have me sweating Frances. Sorry to hear of your early heat wave. We’ve only just begun to warm up in Colorado. Two days of 90 degrees then it’s supposed to fall back down into the 70’s. Much better for working and photographing.
    Your garden overwhelms me with its lushness and variety.

    Sorry, Kathleen! HA 70 degrees sounds delightfully cool, enjoy it. Variety we have, after wanting one of everything for most of my gardening life. Now it is time to edit, spreading those that do well, getting rid of those that do not. Or at least sticking them somewhere out of the main design.
    Frances

  6. Nell Jean says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to come home and visit your garden? We saw triple digits last Friday. Summer is here, which means the heat lovers can take off.

    I smiled at your shading with your body for a better pic. Sometimes I just lean over and let my sun hat make shade over a blossom.

    Hi Nell Jean, thanks for visiting, I do appreciate it! Triple digits, yuck. That is too hot for my dainty self, hard to garden in that, too. The sun hat for photo shading is brilliant, I will have to give that a try.
    Frances

  7. Leslie says:

    I so enjoyed that wander though your garden! I didn’t know there were rudbeckias that grew that way! I hope we get a photo of the bloom 🙂

    Thanks Leslie, thanks for joining in the saunter. These tall Rudbeckias are amazing. I wasn’t sure they would like it on my dry slope, they are said to enjoy wetness, but they seem to be allright so far. I will post the flowers whenever they bloom, but am enjoying seeing the buds grow and develop while the stems are still growing taller!
    Frances

  8. It’s so frustrating when it gets so hot, so soon, and then the hydrangeas droop. Heck, the gardener droops too. We went from below average temperatures up to the 90s practically overnight. It’s hard to adjust.

    Well said, MMD. It is hard for humans and plants to adjust to such circumstances. I fear it won’t be getting any cooler here until about October. I hope better for you.
    Frances

  9. Cindy, MCOK says:

    It’s all so lovely … I’m sorry the untimely heat makes it less than pleasant to be out there enjoying it. I can certainly empathize!

    Thanks Cindy. Untimely heat…that about sums it up here. It is hard to know what is normal anymore, though. I know you suffer from irrational heat there in Katy, having lived near there. I feel for you!
    Frances

  10. A “cool” tour of your garden on a hot morning. Don’t you think that autumn is now about the only time to plant hardy perennials to get them established? The hot weather comes too soon, stays too long and stays too dry for my spring plantings.

    I’ll whine with you. Pam/Digging is coming Saturday, son’s fiance’s parents on Sunday and I’ll have to water, water, water to keep the garden alive for them!

    Hi Cameron, thanks for joining in the tour. I agree, waiting until fall makes the most sense, but it is hard to wait! How fun to have Pam come visit your lovely garden, say Hi for me!
    Frances

  11. Carol says:

    I’d love a cold beverage after a tour through your garden on a steamy summer morning!

    I know just what you would like, Carol, how about some iced green tea?
    Frances

  12. Lola says:

    Your garden looks great despite the heat. That was a wonderful tour.
    A cool drink would taste good. Thanks.

    Thanks for coming along, Lola. That cool drink is coming right up!
    Frances

  13. Looking good.

    I love the rudbeckia maxima. I like tall plants or those that are around the eyeline.

    May the sun shine every day and it only rains at night!

    Thanks Rob. The Rudbeckia is certainly growing on me, too! HA I would even take rain during the day right now…
    Frances

  14. Rose says:

    I enjoyed the tour of your garden, Frances; it seems like there is always something new to see here. But Kitty and I are ready for a cool drink now. It’s ridiculously hot here, too; even early morning or late evening is too uncomfortable for working in the garden. I can only hope the weeds won’t grow anymore until it cools down.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes–Ringo apparently forgot the date, though:)

    Thanks, Rose. I hear you about the ridiculousness of this weather. The grass has slowed down in this heat, but most of the weeds seem to be growing like, well, weeds. I saw Ringo was at Chelsea, guess he was too busy to wish you a happy birthday. Hope it was still a good day for you, my friend!
    Frances

  15. David says:

    You have a very cool garden! That first shot is magnificent. It’s so green unlike here in drought-ridden Texas.

    I had some wild Panicum grass last year and now realize that it died out. Is yours in all day shade?
    It’s beautiful and very wispy.

    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston 🙂

    Hi David, thanks. We also have wild Panicum that pops up in the gravel paths. It is an annual, but must self sow. Ours is growing in nearly full sun, with shade in the afternoon.
    Frances

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