Seasonal Gardening Chores For Mid-Summer

The list of to do chores here at the Fairegarden for the second half of July is very short.

Weed and water.

No new plants should be purchased now. No moving or dividing of existing plantings should be attempted, for it is not possible to keep them properly hydrated. Rain, if there is any, consists of brief pop up showers that run off of the bone dry soil rather than soak in.

Yet, there is this blank space in the Gravel Garden where something has died. Thinking about what could go there, in the rare empty spot, the existing plants are perused for a likely candidate. Something that has seeded in the gravel and is blocking passage would be perfect.

The Aha Moment occurs whilst looking at the morning sun illuminating the reds of the Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’. Behind the stone from Christopher’s mountain is a grouping of native Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ that spreads by runners. Babies have already been moved to other locations from this planting. More babies have surfaced and are creeping into the walkway.

This late fall bloomer meets all the criteria for the vacant lot left where a Verbascum thapsus that was dug from the railroad right of way gave up the ghost and died outright before flowering. What is needed is something of medium height, with larger leaves and that can take the droughty, sunny, poor compacted clay soil of this bed. Jindai, at your service.

Because the babies are so small, and because they are free, and because they need to be moved, and because there are plenty more of them if these die, the move is made. While digging, some extra Vernonia seedlings are noticed and added to the spot.

Why not? Besides, there are better ways to spend our time than weeding and watering.

The photos: Drying on the plant flower head of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Dooley’, Daylily Hill at dawn, Tanacetum vulgare, Sambucus canadensis ‘Aurea’ berries, Jindai foliage with Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’, Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ from 2010, the Gravel Garden, Black Swallowtail butterfly sunning on seedling oak leaf.


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14 Responses to Seasonal Gardening Chores For Mid-Summer

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Excellent advice Frances. Besides it is so hot out right now all I want to do is water and pull a few weeds. Must wait for those pop up showers even to weed when it is this hot. I have tried to get those verbascums with those big soft leaves going in my garden too but they refuse. Probably just as well.

    Thanks Lisa. You are probably right about the Verbascum not growing here, even though I see it on steep gravel covered banks, so similar to our growing conditions. I have had better luck with purchased V. chiaxii ‘Album’, though no seeding about by it so far. Stay cool and hydrated during this hot spell, my friend.

  2. Gail says:

    My dear, It’s just unpleasant out there~NOAA says we are way above average temps and have been for weeks. The ground is very like concrete right now. Summer in TN! V thapsis is gorgeous and thuggish; you probably are better off that it didn’t survive. They are biennials and second year taprooted plants don’t survive transplanting. It’s been reported to produce 100,000 seeds per plant that live for decades in the soil. That all makes me sad~because, they really are fantastic looking. The backlit JBG looks wonderful as do those berries! xxoogail

    Hi Gail, thanks for that. It is the new normal, I am afraid. We must adjust our ways and thinking. The railroad Verbascum was planted as a baby last winter. It did well, looked great until just a couple of weeks ago. It had sent up a bud stalk, then died outright. Oh well, I’ll stick with V. chiaxii ‘Album’, it is doing fine.

  3. Frances, I agree. I pulled up another smooth aster yesterday to place where something had died. I’ve also planted a bit of seed here and there for zinnias and such. I may even do a glad bulb or two, but I won’t go out and plant anything purchased no matter how tempting. It’s just too hot to bother. This year especially.~~Dee

    Thanks Dee. It is hard not to fill a blank space, and I am not very patient. Seeds for cosmos were scattered recently and some have germinated! That is a happy surprise.

  4. Paul Daniels says:

    I don’t know what I enjoy more, the pictures of your garden and the plants in them or the way you describe everything……but I’m always glad I stopped here to see what’s going on.

    Wow Paul, I certainly enjoy your comments, thanks! Saying nice things really makes life happier, I do appreciate you!

  5. sequoiagardens says:

    Aah – to hell with doing. I’ll just look. 😉

    Hi Jack, looking is good, too.

  6. Leslie says:

    When it is too hot to do much it seems the pace slows and we can notice more little things. Like that lovely butterfly! Puttering, as opposed to hard work, is good fun too.

    Hi Leslie, you are very wise! This is when we really slow down, and notice those little things. Hummingbirds hang in the air, just inches from my face. No camera, of course, but it really makes the hard work of gardening seem worthwhile.

  7. All the pretty flowers – then I’m zapped by the beauty of the butterfly.


    Thanks so much Esther, so nice to see you here. Hope you are having a good summer!

  8. Kathleen says:

    These are the days I’m glad to live near a lake Frances. When the mercury hovers near 100, we just jump in! Stay cool. If anyone can figure the right plant for the open spot, it’s you!

    That sounds perfect, Kathleen! And thanks so much for those kind words. We have so many different plants growing here, there is someting for every situation.

  9. Lola says:

    Beautiful as always Frances. Love that stone location. Sure wish you had some of this rain for your beauties. Mine is about too wet.

    Thanks Lola. I am sorry you are too wet, please send any extra rain up here!

  10. I’m with you on the “free” plants. I don’t feel like I’m risking much with that kind of gamble. When I hand water now, I try to drill holes in the soil — just outside the plant’s drip line — with the force of water to try to get something under the soil to the roots. Desperate measures for desperate drought. Any meek and mild trickle (like a drip hose) just evaporates off the dry ground and steams the leaves and flowers into oblivion.

    Hi Freda, thanks. I am a tightwad, and don’t want to intentionally kill a fine purchase by planting now. I find that a large bucket of water poured slowly is a good method for watering prized things, like the new deciduous Azalea I got for Mother’s Day. The rest of the stuff has to fend for itself.

  11. Lisa says:

    What a beautiful garden. I like the most the Black Swallowtail butterfly on top of a green leaf.

    Thanks Lisa. That was the *money shot*!

  12. Rose says:

    I should have read this before I bought a few new plants last week:) But it was hard to pass up such a deal–a ‘Little Lamb’ hydrangea for only a penny if I bought $30 worth of other plants/supplies. Glad to see, though, that the recommended to-do list is short right now. I confess to being a lazy gardener this time of year–other than watering not much is getting done in this heat.

    Forgot to add–enjoy Seattle! I had planned to go, but it just didn’t work out. I’m sure you’ll enjoy those cool Pacific breezes.

    Hi Rose, who could pass up a bargain like that? I cannot seem to follow my own rule, either. Doing anything but water, and even that, is difficult in extreme heat. Take care and keep cool, my friend. Wish you were going to Seattle!

  13. Hot here, too. And dry. Weeding and Watering and Waiting. 🙂

    Hi Shady, I hope you don’t have to wait too long!

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