Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – August 2016

Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and clematis arbor in the side garden at Hayefield [Nancy J. Ondra]

Despite chirpy assurances from area weather reporters that “everyone” in our region has repeatedly gotten soaking rains over the past month, a few of us, at least, have not shared in the bounty. Barely 1 inch of rain over the last 4 weeks, combined with an unusually dry June and July and long stretches of brutally hot weather, does not make for joyous gardening. To be honest, I was [this] close to simply skipping Bloom Day this month. Then this little guy changed my mind.

Lathyrus odoratus in August [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

I sowed the sweet pea seeds back in April and the seedlings looked good in May; then the rain disappeared and so did the plants, I thought. Somehow, one survived on less than 4 inches of rain in the last 10 weeks and even produced a bloom, and I figured that it–as well as all of the other plants who have managed to survive this brutal summer–deserved to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Careful photography of the star plants and combinations is the order of the day when the garden as a whole is sad and crispy.

A bit more time spent on maintenance wouldn't go amiss, but there's not much incentive to putter around in the garden, other than to collect seeds. The grass paths are looking particularly dismal. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

A bit more time spent on maintenance wouldn’t go amiss, but there’s not much incentive to putter around in the garden, other than to collect seeds. The grass paths are looking particularly dismal.

Getting a bit closer and taking two steps to the left makes it possible to hide most of the browned bits, and suddenly the border looks lush and flower-filled. Lesson: Never assume that you know a garden if you've only ever seen it in pictures. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Getting a bit closer and taking two steps to the left makes it possible to hide most of the browned bits, and suddenly the border looks lush and flower-filled. Lesson: Never assume that you know a garden if you’ve only ever seen it in pictures.

It’s common for yellows and golds to be abundant here this time of year. Yes, orange coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) are common, but they can be dramatically wilted for days and still manage to put on a respectable show–particularly those that have planted themselves in shadier sites, or where they get shade from taller companions.

Orange cornflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with 'Anabelle' smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Orange cornflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with ‘Anabelle’ smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

Orange cornflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with ghost bramble (Rubus thibetanus) and Dakota Goldcharm spirea (Spiraea japonica 'Mertyann') [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Orange cornflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with ghost bramble (Rubus thibetanus) and Dakota Goldcharm spirea (Spiraea japonica ‘Mertyann’)

Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with the seedheads of 'Dark Towers' beardtongue (Penstemon) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with the seedheads of ‘Dark Towers’ beardtongue (Penstemon)

Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with 'Isla Gold' tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) with ‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

The bright yellow umbels of golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) are eye-catching from early August well into fall. The basal foliage is wilted and discolored this year, but somehow the plants have managed to keep blooming. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

The bright yellow umbels of golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) are eye-catching from early August well into fall. The basal foliage is wilted and discolored this year, but somehow the plants have managed to keep blooming.

Golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) is happy in The Shrubbery, too: here it's with Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota var. carota) and 'Karl Foerster' feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora). I normally don't allow Queen Anne's lace to flower in the borders--it has plenty of room to do its thing in the meadow--but I let it go this year to have something (anything!) for summer color. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) is happy in The Shrubbery, too: here it’s with Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota var. carota) and ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora). I normally don’t allow Queen Anne’s lace to flower in the borders–it has plenty of room to do its thing in the meadow–but I let it go this year to have something (anything!) for summer color.

The daylily (Hemerocallis) season was short and unspectacular this summer, but here's good old 'Autumn Minaret' doing its best to beautify the side garden even under tough conditions. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

The daylily (Hemerocallis) season was short and unspectacular this summer, but here’s good old ‘Autumn Minaret’ doing its best to beautify the side garden even under tough conditions.

I’m very glad that I’d decided back in the spring to keep most of my experiments in the vegetable garden, so I can give them a bit of supplemental water when I’m trying to keep the edibles going. Some are meant for cutting; others I hope to collect seed from.

'ProCut Orange' annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘ProCut Orange’ annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

Pot marigolds (<em>Calendula officinalis</em>) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis)

Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)

'Kiwi Blue' honeywort (Cerinthe major var. purpurascens) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Kiwi Blue’ honeywort (Cerinthe major var. purpurascens)

'Old Gold' field corn (Zea mays) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Old Gold’ field corn (Zea mays)

Pretzel bean (Vigna unguiculata) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Pretzel bean (Vigna unguiculata)

Variegated cinnamon vine (Dioscorea batatas 'Variegata') [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Variegated cinnamon vine (Dioscorea batatas ‘Variegata’)

 

Large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora)

I did leave some room for vegetables in the vegetable garden. Unfortunately, the low fence, which does a reasonable job keeping the rabbits out, is no help with the voles and deer. Between them, those pests have pretty much destroyed the half-dozen bean varieties I was growing out, and they get a lot of the tomatoes before I can pick them. They haven’t (yet) touched the ‘Livingston’s Honor Bright’ (‘Lutescent’) tomatoes yet, though, or the hot peppers.

The foliage of 'Livingston's Honor Bright' ('Lutescent') tomato looks chlorotic, but the yellowish appearance is part of its normal state of being. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

The foliage of ‘Livingston’s Honor Bright’ (‘Lutescent’) tomato looks chlorotic, but the yellowish appearance is part of its normal state of being.

The flowers of 'Livingston's Honor Bright' ('Lutescent') tomato are more on the whitish side. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

The flowers of ‘Livingston’s Honor Bright’ (‘Lutescent’) tomato are more on the whitish side.

The fruits of 'Livingston's Honor Bright' ('Lutescent') tomato its the most striking feature: They start creamy white, then turn yellow before maturing to orangey red. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

The fruits of ‘Livingston’s Honor Bright’ (‘Lutescent’) tomato are its most striking feature: They start creamy white, then turn yellow before maturing to orangey red.

I'm not surprised that no critters have nibbled on these 'Mustard Habanero' peppers (Capsicum chinense) plants. The fruits of this Pennsylvania heirloom are reportedly very hot. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

I’m not surprised that no critters have nibbled on these ‘Mustard Habanero’ peppers (Capsicum chinense) plants. The fruits of this Pennsylvania heirloom are reportedly very hot.

Fabulously variegated 'Fish' pepper (Capsicum annuum) with MiniFamous Vampire calibrachoa (Calibrachoa 'Kleca09172') [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Fabulously variegated ‘Fish’ pepper (Capsicum annuum) with MiniFamous Vampire calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ‘Kleca09172’)

A few other beauties that are thriving with some supplemental water include…

Petunia exserta [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Petunia exserta

Red mallow (Pavonia missionum) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Red mallow (Pavonia missionum)

White-flowered hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

White-flowered hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab)

Not surprisingly, the black-leaved cotton (Gossypium herbaceum 'Nigrum') is thriving in the heat. It demands loads of water, though. If I didn't want the seeds so badly, I'd have given up on it a month ago. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Not surprisingly, the black-leaved cotton (Gossypium herbaceum ‘Nigrum’) is thriving in the heat. It demands loads of water, though. If I didn’t want the seeds so badly, I’d have given up on it a month ago.

Black-leaved cotton (Gossypium herbaceum 'Nigrum') bloom [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Aren’t the flowers exquisite?

Black-leaved cotton (Gossypium herbaceum 'Nigrum') finished bloom [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

…even when they’re on the way out?

Black-leaved cotton (Gossypium herbaceum 'Nigrum') seedpods [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

The plump, healthy seedpods make me even happier than the beautiful blooms.

Well, those are all lovely, but I’ve gotten distracted from my original point of celebrating the plants that are performing well without any help from me, despite the ridiculously inadequate amount of rainfall.

In bloom since June, 'Governor George Aiken' mullein (Verbascum) is just about finished, but it's still producing a few blossoms on its sideshoots. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

In bloom since June, ‘Governor George Aiken’ mullein (Verbascum) is just about finished, but it’s still producing a few blossoms on its sideshoots.

Red clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Red clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra)

'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth (Amaranthus) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranth (Amaranthus)

'Elephant Head' amaranth (Amaranthus) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Elephant Head’ amaranth (Amaranthus)

Self-sown seedlings of blue pimpernel (Anagallis monellii) with golden hops (Humulus lupulus 'Aureus') [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Self-sown seedlings of blue pimpernel (Anagallis monellii) with golden hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’)

Flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata)

'Leia' pineapple lily (Eucomis) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Leia’ pineapple lily (Eucomis)

'Dragon's Breath' celosia (Celosia) with Euphorbia palustris 'Zauberflote' [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Dragon’s Breath’ celosia (Celosia) with Euphorbia palustris ‘Zauberflote’

Cut-leaved chastetree (Vitex negundo 'Heterophylla') [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Cut-leaved chastetree (Vitex negundo ‘Heterophylla’)

Most of my hardy hibiscus plants are wilted and dying, but this 'Fireball' is still looking good--maybe because its deeply cut leaves don't lose as much water as the broad-leaved ones. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Most of my hardy hibiscus plants are wilted and dying, but this ‘Fireball’ is still looking good–maybe because its deeply cut leaves don’t lose as much water as the broad-leaved ones.

Blackberry lily (Iris domestica [Belamcanda chinensis]) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Blackberry lily (Iris domestica [Belamcanda chinensis])

Graybeard grass or frost grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Graybeard grass or frost grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus)

Bunny tail grass (Lagurus ovatus) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Bunny tail grass (Lagurus ovatus)

Naked lady (Lycoris squamigera) with Canna indica 'Purpurea' [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Naked lady (Lycoris squamigera) with Canna indica ‘Purpurea’

'Black Beauty' Orienpet lily (Lilium) with giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha) and 'Color Guard' Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Black Beauty’ Orienpet lily (Lilium) with giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha) and ‘Color Guard’ Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa)

A pink-flowered Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia) seedling [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

A pink-flowered Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia) seedling

Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) with summer phlox (Phlox paniculata) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) with summer phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Many of the meadow perennials--like these New York ironweed (<em>Vernonia noveboracensis</em>) and Joe-Pye weed (<em>Eutrochium maculatum</em>)--are a good 2 feet shorter than usual, but they're still looking good. In fact, the ironweed is even more handsome than usual, since its leaves are not disfigured by the orange rust that usually infects them this time of year. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Many of the meadow perennials–like these New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) and Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum)–are a good 2 feet shorter than normal, but they’re still looking good. In fact, the ironweed is even more handsome than usual, since its leaves are not disfigured by the orange rust that usually infects them this time of year.

The wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) is equally happy in the garden and out here in the meadow. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

The wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) is equally happy in the garden and out here in the meadow.

It took a while, but the shining sumac (<em>Rhus copallinum</em>) is creating a broad, beautiful patch in the lower meadow. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

It took a while, but the shining sumac (Rhus copallinum) is creating a broad, beautiful patch in the lower meadow.

Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) fighting it out with clustered or short-toothed mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) in the meadow. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) fighting it out with clustered or short-toothed mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) in the meadow.

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) in the meadow: one of the few plants that has not noticed the drought at all! [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) in the meadow: one of the few plants that has not noticed the drought at all!

Variegated pokeweed (Phytolacca americana 'Variegata' ['Silberstein']), looking particularly grand this year [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Variegated pokeweed (Phytolacca americana ‘Variegata’ [‘Silberstein’]) is looking particularly grand this year.

Golden wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana 'Aureum') [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Golden wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana ‘Aureum’)

Asian Pears [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Asian pears

Well, that’s quite enough of traipsing around the garden in this heat. They boys are much smarter and spend most of these hot days under their favorite patch of cedars.

Alpacas Daniel and Duncan under the cedars at Hayefield [Nancy J. Ondra]

We love our cedar trees!

When I’m not obliged to be outdoors, I mostly retreat to my basement. While not as cool as it usually is this time of year, it’s more tolerable than the upper floors. I’ve been busy down there finishing a bunch of the botanical castings I made earlier in the season and making new ones this summer.

Daffodil (Narcissus), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), and reticulated iris (Iris reticulata) botanical casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Daffodil (Narcissus), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), and reticulated iris (Iris reticulata)

Solomon's seal (Polygonatum commutatum) and forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) botanical casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum commutatum) and forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)

Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and lavender (Lavandula) botanical casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and lavender (Lavandula)

Summer herbs and edibles botanical casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Summer herbs and edibles

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), poppy (Papaver somniferum), and 'Tanna' burnet (Sanguisorba) botanical casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), poppy (Papaver somniferum), and ‘Tanna’ burnet (Sanguisorba)

White lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

White lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora)

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) botanical casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)

Poppy (Papaver somniferum) Botanical Casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Poppy (Papaver somniferum) pods

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) botanical casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

Common nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) Botanical Casting [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Common nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

While I prefer the simplicity of the uncolored castings, I've been trying out some handpainted "tiny tiles" and ornaments, just for something different. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

While I prefer the simplicity of the uncolored castings, I’ve been trying out some handpainted “tiny tiles” and ornaments, just for something different.

Another series of "tiny tiles." Three are natural-colored Hydrostone with an antiqued wax finish; the rest are Hydrostone cast onto impressions in terracotta clay, which leaves a patina on the finished tile. [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

Another series of “tiny tiles.” Three are natural-colored Hydrostone with an antiqued wax finish; the rest are Hydrostone cast onto impressions in terracotta clay, which leaves a patina on the finished tile.

I’m working on getting some of these (and other) castings in my Etsy shop and preparing for upcoming on-site shows. First up is the Fall Festival at Linden Hill Gardens in Ottsville, PA on October 22 (details on the event are available here).

For now, I’ll wish all of you a good rest-of-the-summer, with rain if you need it, dry days if you don’t, and tolerable temperatures for us all. For more late-summer gardens, check out the list of other participants in this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens.

Alpaca Daniel in the sprinkler [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

One of summer’s delights: drinking straight from the sprinkler!

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Robbin on August 15, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Such an inspiration, even during the “Dog Days” of August. Thanks to you and your select plants for the reminder to never give up!

    So much for the oft-quoted advice that perennials need an inch of water a week, hmmm? Many may appreciate that, but a surprising number manage to keep going on far less. That will to live is one of the things that makes gardening so interesting. Happy Bloom Day to you, Robbin!
    -Nan

  2. A beautiful series of photos!
    The one thing that really caught my attention – The Marigold – so lovely!
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

    I agree, Lea: the pot marigolds are particularly beautiful. Most of the packet of ‘Neon’ produced the expected bright orange, but some had this more golden color with reddish shading under each petal. I’m definitely going to save seed from these. Thanks for visiting today!
    -Nan

  3. Posted by Susan A Roman on August 15, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Your botanical castings are just BEAUTIFUL! And I’m glad that you provided the link to your Etsy shop because one of these lovely tiles would make a spectacular gift for someone special. Here in Toronto, Canada the drought lingers on, so I know how sad it is to watch everything struggle. But, as usual, you’ve posted some wonderful photos with great info about plants and grasses that can tough it out, despite the lack of rain. Yours is absolutely my favorite gardening blog on the Internet…!

    Thanks ever so much, Susan. You are very kind. When I make the castings, I sometimes have to let the plant pieces wilt a bit first, so they will cooperate with being pressed into the clay. Under these conditions, though, they’re practically floppy as soon as I cut them. Fortunately for the garden, we’ve gotten a few very brief but very heavy showers in the last few days. It’s still totally inadequate in light of the prolonged dry spell, but it does give one hope for things to perk up again. I wish some rain for you too!
    -Nan

  4. Posted by Verna Colliver on August 15, 2016 at 8:57 am

    There may be a dearth of water for your garden but certainly no dearth of beauty!! I’ll shop your etsy site for those lovely little tiles. Christmas is coming–and cooler weather too! A few of my green beans look somewhat like your “pretzel bean” but they’re ordinary bush beans.

    Cooler weather sounds just lovely, doesn’t it? It’s nice to be thinking of fall and holiday events right now. I wonder if the distortion on your beans may have to do with incomplete pollination, because of the excessive heat. Later pods may be straighter, as the seeds develop more evenly.
    -Nan

  5. Your first image is just breathtaking! Isn’t it amazing how rain can be all around and yet miss the place where you are? We are having enough rain this summer but I clearly recall big storms happening just a couple of miles away that never reached our garden. I love visiting your blog because I always see so many plants that are new to me. And your castings are beautiful. I really love the first images that are larger, square and uncolored. Just lovely.

    “Moderation in all things” rarely applies to gardening, it seems: there’s too much rain, or not enough; it’s too cold or too hot; plants are not as vigorous as we’d like, or they’re enthusiastic to the point of being aggressive. No chance of becoming bored with the many and varied challenges involved! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed seeing the castings; thanks for saying that. The premise is simple but the process has required much practice and experimentation.
    -Nan

  6. Posted by Jean on August 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

    It has been a trying summer here in western Maryland. Two heat waves and lack of good rain. I can’t remember a summer when I was not able to work in the garden just about every day. Makes for a cranky me.
    Thank you for your post, your garden looks lovely.

    Ugh, I’m so sorry to hear that you too are having a rough summer, Jean. “Cranky” is a very appropriate description of both people and animals right now. But this too shall pass, sooner or later…sooner, we can hope.
    -Nan

  7. Posted by Mel on August 15, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I’ve had the same kind of weather here in N.E. Ohio. I am so ready to throw in the towel. Heat, no rain and the deer eating my daylily buds, pole beans and amaranth. Now it won’t stop raining….which is causing the ripening tomatoes to split.
    I love your botanical castings!

    Poor Mel! I completely understand your frustration, particularly since the beginning of this growing season seemed so promising. Who knows what will happen between now and September’s Bloom Day? I too may be complaining about too much rain by then.
    -Nan

  8. Posted by Barbara Dashwood on August 15, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I concur; it’s interesting to see what does survive. We are also experiencing our typical summer drought. And, like many others, if rain does arrive in the region it invariably misses us! I think a new book is in order, Nan, detailing your experiences of gardening in a drought. ;>) Glad to hear you got some rain relief. Barbara, Victoria, BC.

    I appreciate the vote of confidence, Barbara, but others have already done a great job on that subject. I doubt I’d have much street cred, seeing as how I come from an area that usually gets about 40″ of rain a year–which would be more than adequate if it would just come at the right time. At this point, if we can’t get a few days of soaking rain, just some cooler, drier air would be welcome. I didn’t know that our dew point could be as high as 80F! May you too get some relief soon.
    -Nan

  9. Oh, I wish you rain! Here, too, it is the driest I have ever experienced. Unlike you, I cannot find the inspiration to join in bloggers’ bloom day – I applaud you and that sweetest little pea. I am very enamored by your Etsy shop!

    Thanks, Kathy! I was just watching news reports about the poor folks in Louisiana: It looks like they got all of the rain that the rest of us are lacking. In light of that devastation, drought maybe isn’t so bad.
    -Nan

  10. I share your frustration with the lack of rain, not that we ever expect any of that during the summer months here. I finally broke down and stepped up my irrigation (after accumulating a healthy credit with my water district after a year of miserly watering) but, as big as your property appears to be, I don’t suppose it’s easy for you to irrigate extensively. The added water has given my garden an unexpected boost this August but most of my own photos are close-ups as the broader views don’t warrant attention. Despite your rain deficit, you still have a glorious mix of plants, Nan, and as always I enjoy seeing them – and the boys, of course. I hope a good healthy dose of gentle rain is soon delivered your way!

    Hey there, Kris. I knew you would relate easily to our dry conditions this summer. As I rely on a well for water, I stick to hand-watering, and only the edibles and containers. Well, the boys do have a sprinkler, but that’s a necessity, not a luxury. I collect the sprinkler water they don’t use, and their leftover drinking water too, and that goes into the garden, so little is wasted. Thanks for the good wishes!
    -Nan

  11. Posted by Bernadette on August 15, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I’m in Chester County, not too far from you and experiencing the same lack of water along with deer and rabbit damage. Add to that the lack of hydrangea blooms because of a late spring cold snap and my borders are looking pretty sad. The one shining star that has thrived despite it all is rudbeckia fulgida. I’ve really come to appreciate this workhorse. Blooms a long time, in sun and shade, spreads around nicely and isn’t bothered by deer or rabbits. It’s providing some much needed color while I neglect the garden until the weather cooperates.

    Hi Bernadette! I’m sorry to hear that you too have been deprived of the rain that’s been so plentiful for many of our neighbors. And oh my yes…the deer and rabbits are everywhere here too this year. Daniel and Duncan and I went for a short ramble this evening and saw three does: two with twins and one with triplets. It’s a daunting prospect for this winter. I have to admit that I used to find Rudbeckia fulgida boring, but you are absolutely right that it deserves to be appreciated.
    -Nan

  12. I am so glad you followed through with a post in spite of the lack of rain in your garden. I will be reviewing your photos for plants that have endured. I need to focus on drought tolerant plants as I expand my garden further away from the water spigot.
    We have been blessed with much rain and my garden is lush and colorful. Unfortunately, the slime mold in the mulch is thriving as well. It’s even traveling up some of the plant stems.
    I noticed your amaranth is plagued with little holes in the leaves like mine is this year. I think the little beetles chewing on mine are striped cucumber beetles. Any suggestions on how to lesson their damage?

    Eew…you’re making me think that drought perhaps isn’t so bad, Debbie. Yes, the holes in my amaranth are from cucumber beetles. I don’t like to spray anything, so I just live with them. Most of the plants can flower and set seed all right even with a lot of damage.
    -Nan

  13. Lucky us that you didn’t give up on the blog for this month! And there is a lesson here for all. If the overall picture is gloomy, there will be beauty in the details. You’ve got so many interesting plants and flowers… and any loss in the garden this year seems to be made up for by your work in the basement. Look what you’ve done down there, Nan! Your casts are amazing. Just a thought about dry, patchy grass: It is perfectly normal here in northern Italy (OK, nearly all over Italy) so we have two options – water like crazy and aim for golfcourse green, or accept what we get, knowing that every September that dead looking grass will turn bright green again and look amazing in contrast to the xeriscape we had for July and August… I’m getting used to the cycle, and actually find bright emerald summer lawns a bit offputting. We’re NOT in Ireland! I wonder if your torrid summer is yet another sign of gloabl warming for you in Pennsylvania. If so, we’re all going to have to start seeing the crispy dead look as “normal” soon.

    Thanks, Clark. I think the tiles have come a long way since you saw my very first attempts last fall. And yeah, the grass paths look very sad right now, but if I had left them in bark mulch, they’d still be a mix of brown (mulch) and green (weeds). I’m trying to just not look at them. When I see lush green grass elsewhere, all I can think of is how much water was wasted to make it look that way. Not to discount climate change and all, but I’m sure you remember that summers here in PA can have both dry and hot spells–though admittedly, I can’t remember it being so hot for so long. It is definitely not good weather for the fuzzy animals!
    -Nan

  14. “Never assume that you know a garden if you’ve only ever seen it in pictures.” Truer words were rarely spoken. I do think you managed to give us quite the lovely selection, despite the rotten summer. I absolutely love the black cotton. Anyway, I feel your pain. Our last summer here in the Pacific NW was hideously hot and dry. All I wanted to do was hide under a rock. This year, we have been lucky, even though the meteorologists are telling us we are headed for heat this week. Sigh – I’m bracing myself… oh, and your plant castings are beautiful!

    Hiding under a rock sounds really good right now, Anna: certainly more tempting than working out in the garden. At this point, even my normally cool basement isn’t quite the haven it normally is. Thanks for letting me know that you liked the castings. May your hot spell be limited in intensity and duration!
    -Nan

  15. Posted by Eric S on August 16, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks for finding and recording juicy bursts of beauty this dry August. The backlit bud of black-leaved cotton is exquisite and something I don’t know that I’d ever see without you to show us.
    I have found myself scanning radar instead of the garden for scattered red and yellow blooms which sadly de-materialize as they approach.
    In my dry shade, fragrant white flowers of Hosta plantaginea and promising pink buds of Begonia grandis are the smile makers as my eyes avoid my “sad and crispy” Galium and Astilbe.

    You as well, Eric? I’m sorry to hear that. I too have been obsessed with watching the radar maps. And gosh, when you see the scientific forecaster discussion includes the word “Yikes!!!”–just like that, with multiple exclamation points–you know we’re in trouble. Maybe we’ll get a little relief tonight or tomorrow. At least you have a few fresh blooms to get you through!
    -Nan

  16. Posted by margaret on August 16, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Would you collect seeds from Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ for sale please?

    Hi Margaret. I just sent you an email about the seeds.
    -Nan

  17. I didn’t know your gardens didn’t get supplemental irrigation. Maybe that means I can grow the variegated pokeweed too! Here’s to cooler, wetter days for you and the boys. And I prefer the unpainted castings too. That orlaya, wow! And the poppies and burnet…all of them wonderful.

    Isn’t that pokeweed amazing? That’s the biggest clump of the variegated one I’ve ever had. In the garden, I’m lucky to get it half that size, but the one that seeded into the sun-baked gravel by the barn is thriving. I’d say that it’s worth a try for you. You’d probably need to water it the first few years, but if you’ve ever tried to dig out an established pokeweed, you know that the arm-thick roots can go very deep to get their own water. I appreciate your input about the unpainted tiles. The more colorful ones sell well, but I think the simple beauty of the plants shows off better on the unpainted ones.
    -Nan

  18. Posted by Sandy Bigatel on August 17, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Even with the drought and wilting, your garden is beautiful, Nan. Your keen photographer’s eye catches things beautifully. Love the tiles and had good luck w/the Hungarian rice beans you sent. They are very tasty. Thank you. Hope to see you at Linden Hill. Sandy

    I think you’ve been getting a lot of rain up your way, Sandy; I hope that’s true and that your garden is thriving. So glad to hear that you enjoyed the beans. I look forward to seeing you at the show. It’s neat to meet readers in person!
    -Nan

  19. Posted by tim on August 17, 2016 at 8:06 am

    so many nice plant combos, i love the silver bramble with the cone flower.

    Thanks, Tim. It was very clever of the rudbeckias to put themselves there. I’m certainly not going to bother them while they’re surrounded by the prickly bramble canes.
    -Nan

  20. Posted by Allan Robinson on August 20, 2016 at 7:38 am

    As always Nan a pleasure and delight to visit your garden, I hope that you soon get the rain which you say is needed, quite ironic because as I write this the rain is falling heavily on my garden, torrential rain yesterday, in fact through the whole of this Summer we have only had to water the garden twice. We had a few weeks of hot sunny weather in June, apart from a few dry days that has been Summer, in NW England. We gardeners are never satisfied are we lol

    Good to hear from you, Allan! Well, you’ve had your share of dry summers too, so a rainy one makes for a change. Maybe it will be our turn next year. One way or the other, we always have a good excuse for our garden not looking perfect!
    -Nan

  21. I hope you have finally had a little rain, although by the looks of it you need a few days of steady soaking rain in order to bring things back before autumn. Still even with all the dry your garden still has quite a few bright spots to it and I’m sure the others will bounce back quickly!
    For the first time ever we are actually enjoying a summer of regular rains. There was the June-July drought which did in quite a few things but ever since getting into August it’s been ok. I was actually able to mow the lawn again last week which I don’t think has happened in any of the three past Augusts. Too bad the summer vegetables were nearly a complete loss… only the tomatoes and eggplants were salvageable.
    I love how well you’ve done with the cotton this year. The time in the greenhouse really paid off. Also has ‘Leia’ been hardy for you?

    Hi Frank! Yes, we’ve gotten a few small rains since the 15th, and a half-inch this evening. It all helps, but you’re right–a thorough soaking is much needed. There do seem to be some signs that some plants will come back for fall. I haven’t yet left ‘Leia’ outside for the winter. Good thing, as I lost most of the others that I left outside this past winter, even though they’d survived outside in other years.
    -Nan

  22. Posted by katherine patrick on August 22, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Nan, I feel your pain about the lack of rain. We have been in a similar pattern this summer. We finally got 1.5 inches this week and it is amazing how things have rebounded. I irrigate all my beds, alternately hand watering or setting up the oscillating sprinkler. City water is not the same as rain though and only server to keep things ticking over.
    One thing about gardening is that there is always next year to hope and plan for. That keeps me going through the disappointments.
    Hope you get more rain now!
    Love the tiles… very delicate and interesting. You are so creative with your projects!
    Cheers,
    Kate Patrick

    Thanks, Kate! We had a bit of rain but now no more for at least a week. I think it’s time to start planning for next year.
    -Nan

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