Friday, July 6, 2012

Surviving Sizzling Summer

A wall of heat slams into me as I open the door to let the dogs out.  They trot, rather than run, to do their business while I walk to the garden, the brown grass crunching under my feet. The air is so thick it's as if a blanket of steam has settled above me.  I move the sprinkler to another part of the garden and adjust the nozzle; as usual, I wind up soaking myself, but the cool spray is a welcome relief.  Satisfied that the hose is positioned to water the garden and not the grass, I look for the dogs who are already at the back door anxious to return to our air-conditioned cocoon.

Normally, I am not a glass-half-empty kind of  person, but I can be prone to pity parties, and I am a total wimp when it comes to heat.  Day after day of heat indexes over 100 degrees have turned me into a full-blown whiner.  Nagging aches and pains seem to be exacerbated by the heat.  Inertia has settled in, as I postpone projects and plans, all of which seem to require more energy than I can summon.

Early morning and late evening are the only times I venture outside, other than quick trips to move the water sprinklers.  Even then, it doesn't take long before rivulets of perspiration are running down my face.  The picture above of my roadside coneflowers shows that even at 8 PM, the sun's rays are still strong, and the haze of humidity has settled even closer to the ground.  When my daughter lived in Arizona, I used to feel so sorry for her during the summer when temperatures often reached 110.  But Arizona doesn't have humidity, so a heat index (temperature + humidity) is more accurate in comparing our weather--I think right now we're much hotter than Arizona!

But you didn't come here to hear me complain, and I realize even as I write, that it could be much worse.  While my garden is suffering from not only the heat, but  the prolonged drought as well, farmers have much more to be concerned about as they see their crops shriveling in the fields.  There are no wildfires threatening my home, thank God.  And, unlike some areas hit by recent storms, I have power--which means I can always retreat into the comfort of air-conditioning.

'Dragonfly Corner,' a passalong from friend Beckie, is thriving in spite of the heat.
Instead of complaining, it is a good time to look at the positives. It has taken me three weeks, but I finally have the load of mulch I ordered spread over all the flowerbeds, with some to spare.  Hopefully, this will keep down the weeds, and I can spend some time on some much-needed deadheading--when it cools down.  The daylilies are all in full bloom, providing the usual riot of color this time of year, even though some of their foliage is turning brown and the color of their blooms seems rather washed out by the sun.  I keep waiting for an overcast day to photograph them at their best.

On the Fourth of July I looked around the garden to see if I could find a patriotic tribute.  Finding something white wasn't difficult, which is a bit surprising, considering up until a year ago, there was hardly a white bloom in my garden.  Now there are all kinds of white blooms--phlox, 'White Swan' echinacea, nicotania, annual salvia. 

Probably the best-looking of the bunch, though, is the 'Becky' daisy.  The original plant pictured above in Roco's garden was divided last year, and an even larger plant now blooms in the Arbor Bed. More divisions were taken this spring and shared with best friend Beckie.  Such a great plant--it seems totally unfazed by the heat and the lack of rainfall.

Finding red was a little harder, especially a true red.  But the first zinnias are beginning to bloom, and a bright red one opened up just in time for the holiday.

A blue to complete the patriotic theme was even harder--the pot in the shade garden is a little too blue.

Searching a little harder, I found this bloom which may look purple here, but in the right light it is the perfect shade of flag blue.  What makes me excited about this bloom, though, is that it's my first ever larkspur!  I've tried for several years to plant larkspur from seed with no luck. 

This year I have several plants popping up here and there in various colors.  I finally realized that larkspur needs cold to germinate, and in the past I had planted it too late in the season.  These seeds were scattered in February, while the ground was still half-frozen.  

Another success story--one lavender plant started from indoor seed sowing a year ago survived the winter.  Perhaps there will be enough to make one lavender sachet??

While parts of the garden are showing the effects of a stressful summer, the liatris seem to be energized by the heat.  I'm not sure what's going on with these particular plants--they're 5-6 feet tall and still haven't bloomed!

The first 'Stargazer' bloom opened up yesterday, with buds promising more to come.  Yes, there is much to happy about in spite of this miserable heat, and there's nothing I can do about the weather anyway.  I'll just view the garden from the cool comfort of the family room and keep repeating my favorite mantra for all unpleasant times . . . "This, too, shall pass."

Stay cool, everyone!


  1. Dear Rose,
    I first have to go to the calculator because we have temperatures in Celsius. brrrrrr what a heat you have. Most of the time I am complaining about the temperatures and weather in Holland but I think I could not live in these temperatures at the moment we have 20 celcius. Not hot but nice evenough I think.
    It's amazing to see how your flowers can stand the heat it's incredible.
    Stay cool Rose and I wish you a great weekend.

  2. Well your garden is actually looking pretty good despite the drought. I totally know how you feel with the energy thing. The heat seems to sap it from me too. Soon we'll be past this though. It rain a sec today so I'm happy!

  3. I'll bet your yard looks much like mine --islands of flower beds with tiny rims of green grass where the watering has gone slightly farther than the bed.

    I really love that first day lily you posted --the pink one. Those liatris are funny!

    I am away for a week, so I can't water. I hope everything can make it one week!

  4. I hear ya. We are also suffering from drought and heat. My gardens all look terrible. I am also finding that many of my annuals, and some of the perennials are being eaten by some bug. All in all, it has not been the best year in the garden.

    Your flowers are all looking quite beautiful despite the conditions.

  5. Dear Rose,
    Yes, "This too shall pass," and I add "but hurry!"
    I cannot tolerate the heat so I am inside by 10am....Your daisies are lovely...
    you have lots in bloom! I am amazed.
    I am not deadheading until after we get some rain...too stressful on the plants I think
    The heat and the dryness has been too prolong....We need a break. Since everything has been 6 weeks early maybe Autumn will be early?
    I think your photograph of your purple coneflowers is lovely...very artistic.
    Stay cool. I have been making sorbet...
    perfect for 100 plus degrees.
    Limeades are tasty too...

  6. Rose, I'm with you... hot, dry, humid and Whew! It doesn't take long before I feel like a wet dishrag "out there," but it must be done. Stay hydrated, Rose!!

    I have to laugh. I ventured outdoors a bit ago with my camera and took some "romantically hazy" photos... such as a few of your first ones. My camera lens fogged up (and the air conditioning isn't set terribly low... about 80 degrees). ha!

  7. Yes, it's tough isn't it? I am so sad for the farmers. Your intro perfectly describes what I've been doing lately, too. Love the Stargazer Lily! And those Liatris would be great as cut stems in a bouquet. I agree: Our 100s + humidity are much hotter than the dry heat out west! Prayers for all of us suffering from extreme heat+drought, especially the farmers.

  8. Stay cool Rose !!! We are cool here, I have gardened in a long sleeve cotton top today, and yes it has rained.

    Nothern UK has been hit by floods.....there were 170 flood warnings across UK last night.

    Until the jet stream moves I think we are stuck with this wet weather.

    I am so sorry that you still have no rain......and the heat. I couldn't cope with the temperatures, I would wilt for sure.
    You blooms look lovely Rose, especially the Echinacea. It is amazing what stands up to extreme temperatures.

    I do so hope some rain kisses your garden soon.

  9. I just don't understand what's going on with the weather. This is the first year since we initially moved here in '03 that the summer rainy season has been somewhat normal, almost too normal. It's eerie. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Geez, I'm starting to sound like my mom.

    I love the cool whites, pinks, and blues in your garden. They make me feel cooler just looking at them.

  10. Thanks for the wish to stay cool. It is definitely a challenge. I, too, only venture out in the early morning and late evening. I am just not as good at handling the heat as I was when I was younger. Your daisies made me smile.

  11. That first shot of the pink coneflowers in the evening humid mist looks refreshing and serene, but I know it was hot and miserable. The picture makes it look just the opposite -- a beautiful shot.

    And the Becky daisies are crisp and cool looking even though they too were hot and dry. I have a stand of Becky, and have divided them for more too. They are so reliable, clear white, and such performers.

    You may be hot, but your garden plants are really cool!

  12. I am amazed by how beautiful your flowers look in that heat. the only way I can see the heat you are suffering is by the brown grass....
    It is pretty hot here too, and humid...
    Best to look at your flowers over a glass of iced tea, from inside the ACed house :-)

  13. Merci de partager ces magnifiques photos. le second delphiniums est splendide. bonne journée.

  14. Marijke, I should have converted the temperature to Celsius here; our temps would be about 37-39 C. Yours sounds so much better right now!

    Tina, There's a chance of rain today, but I'm not counting on it. Off to a garden walk today--if we get rained on, I won't worry one bit about an umbrella!

    Cassi, That's exactly what it looks like here--all the grass is brown except near the flowerbeds:) The first daylily is a passalong from my aunt and has such a beautiful coral color.

    Sally, It's definitely been a stressful summer for the garden; thank goodness we have well water or my water bill would be sky high.

    Sherry, I noticed on the weather map last night that's even hotter where you are. Staying inside is definitely the best option, although today the A/C is not working:( I hope the repairman can get here soon. If the summer continues like this, autumn will be a welcome relief!

    Shady, That "romantic haze" has me feeling like a wet dishrag, too:) Not much is getting accomplished in the garden these days other than constant watering.

    Beth, It's a little bit cooler today--only supposed to get to 90:) Amazing how much cooler that feels to me. I can't figure out what's going on with the liatris--have you ever seen them this tall??

  15. Cheryl, It seems we are both dealing with extreme conditions--too bad we couldn't share our weather for a much happier medium. This weather has taught me what is tough, though, which is why I have more and more natives in my garden.

    W2W, It's definitely been a strange year, weather-wise. My intention with the arbor bed was to have "cool" colors, and I'm glad I did. The lily bed is the "hot" bed right now.

    Sage, I've never enjoyed the heat, but I agree, I think the older I get the less I can stand it. Maybe I'm getting a little soft, too--our house wasn't air-conditioned when I was younger.

    Laurrie, I've learned through the summer of '10 and this year what can stand up to this awful heat and humidity. The 'Becky' daisies have been troopers through everything.

    Ruth, I'm glad so many flowers are still doing well here, but it has taken constant watering. Yes, I am viewing the garden from inside most of the time.

    Glycine, Thanks for visiting. I don't speak French, but I did understand your comment! The larkspur make me happy, too.

  16. Such a lovely, thoughtful, poignant post, Rose.

    Your photos are beautiful as always, and your garden looks fantastic in spite of the heat.

    I've been thinking a lot about our farmers and how difficult this season has been.

    As for me, this has been a record-breaking year in more ways than one as business has heated up along with the weather. It's a mixed blessing. Working in the heat is rough. I head out as early in the morning as possible, wear a bandana around my head to soak up the sweat before it drips in my eyes, a hat over that, a gel-filled band around my neck to cool the arteries, drink lots of ice water, and my favorite thing to do is water pots (in the shade.) My sandals are waterproof, and the plants and I cool off together. The best part of my day is coming home to a cool shower and air conditioning.

    Here's hoping July and August are better.

  17. Stay cool? I am sitting here in polo neck jumper PLUS cardigan! And it's July, our summer for goodness'sake!

    Anyway, I would be complaining even more in temperatures like yours. I do not envy you. But your garden still looks delicious. I am becoming addicted to white daisies I think!

  18. With that strong sun and heat you are having, you now know why I usually only take photos of the garden early in the morning! My daylilies seem to survive heat and drought fairly well. I've always had to remove brown leaves so I just assumed that was normal! Gosh, I would love to grow a Stargazer lily. Yours is gorgeous!

  19. It is shocking to me to hear about the temperatures this year. It seems like it's hotter than ever in places that normally wouldn't reach that high. We've barely cracked 25 degrees here but even that was too hot for me as the humidity makes it feel 10 degrees hotter.

  20. Oh, goodness! I know I couldn't cope with heat like that Rose, it sounds completely overpowering! I do wish we could have some warm, sunny days though, this interminable rain just goes on and on! I hear it may last until September :-(

    Your flowers all look lovely and do look like they are doing quite well in the heat. I love your red, white and blues :-) my favourites though are the white daisies, so pretty!

    Try to stay cool Rose, I hope you get some relief soon!

  21. Your wall of heat sounds so different from our cold, grey, damp summer.
    Must be difficult to keep everything watered.
    Its difficult here, to keep the slugs at bay because of the wet. We are so different at the moment.... your country & mine.
    Your photos are really lovely.
    Maggie X
    Nuts in May

  22. Your blooms look happy considering the heat and lack of rains this summer. It has been a hot hot hot one and for me, I dont like it one bit. I hate the steamy heat of the Southern Summers but would not trade it for long cold winters and snow. I must remind myself of that every time I go outside to water. Thank goodness we have had two nice rains in the past week. The gardens and I are ever so happy right now. Give me another week with no rains and I will no longer be happy though. Thank goodness for electricity and Air Conditioning…

  23. We had that kind of summer last year and it was beyond miserable. Summer is never pleasant here and I grow less tolerant of it each year. I'm beginning to think I'd do better in a cold climate!

  24. I hope you are enjoying cooler weather and are able to get out in the garden again by now. That was one miserable hot spell wasn't it? Despite the heat your roadside Echinacea look wonderful!

  25. I've been having some pity parties myself. I worked summer school, so only had a little time in the mornings to garden. I've been running out of energy, too. I've never sweat very much, but this summer, I am finding myself and clothes drenched.

    I have several kinds of liatris that took awhile for the purple to come out. One of them still hasn't. Have your blooms opened yet?

  26. I love the delphinium. I find a summer like this really makes you appreciate the natives and the daylilies. We also got some rain yesterday but then it was back to sun in the 90s today.

    By the way, I did a double take on your picture of the liatris because the hummingbird feeder at first looks like an alien space ship is landing.

    Wonderful post. Thanks!


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