Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hot Gardens

Thursday, May 27, 2010

56 degrees here on the mountain, 98 % humidity with a rising barometer. Gail and Karl the Wonder Dog have been out since 5:30, enjoying the bird songs of the morning and an occasional deer or moose visit. Gail has taken over some of the morning walk-the-dog duties so I can get to the nursery and start watering. Division of labor is an interesting affair.

A week ago this past Sunday I was standing at the nursery in a snowstorm. Since then the temperature has risen and not a drop of rain has fallen around here. The grass on city lawns is already yellowing and dust rises as lawn mowers or farm tractors navigate grass of any kind. It was so hot yesterday at the nursery that people came to look, only briefly, and couldn't make themselves buy a plant in 90 degree weather. Around 8 last night the large mass of humidity hit another hot front and in places there were big storms with lightning and high winds. Although the National Weather Broadcasts kept going off, nothing serious got to Marshfield--this time.

Despite today's repeat of hot weather, I will start planting a hot garden in hot weather. I have a garden planned mentally for along the Winooski River that when in bloom will be observable from US Route 2. The soil along the river is terrible as it's a mix of river gravel with many large stones and a thin covering of alluvial river soil from ancient high waters. I have amended a piece 10 feet by 75 feet and that's where the planting will commence today. All the plants will be heat lovers that do well in poor soil and with limited water. I will plant intensively so the large flowers will shade the roots of the smaller ones and I plan to over-mulch with shredded maple leaves when everything is up to try to retain moisture.

All the flowers will be planted in big swaths so when the flowers bloom the color will be like a flower tapestry. I will use Benary zinnias toward the front as they provide lots of color variety and are in the 28-34 inch range. They usually don't need pinching but when they are up a foot I'll pinch them hard and water well and get them to branch to the max.

Purple and white liatris make nice clumps of color in time and bring in butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and moths. They bloom from the top down and provide a more obvious vertical element. For some reason I can't remember this morning if I ever received the white variety I ordered but do know there's a big bucket of the purple.

Part of the back drop will be swaths of yellow heliopsis (just above) and helianthus in lots of colors. I have 14 plants that are the end of last years garden rows and those will all be moved. This is a nice cut flower too and a flower that gardeners should use more for cuts and August-into-late-September bloom.

There are two crates of echinacea and rudbeckia and a crate of white shasta daisies to bring it all together. It will take another year before it fills in the way I want but there should be some good color this year anyway. The final backdrop will be sunflowers of various heights and colors. These are the bigger eye catchers that draw people close up for a better view. I love to look at sunflowers as they always remind me of two friends--my gardens and me! Have a nice day. Come visit!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where 56 degrees feels really nice!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm: where astilbes are on sale today 3/$21
On Facebook at two accounts: Vermont Flower Farm & Gardens and also, George Africa
On Twitter at vtflowerfarm


Jeff Branch said...

Here in central Alabama, it has been around 90 for the past week with no end in sight. There was a breeze late yesterday evening which made things sort of nice.

It is this time of year that I do yard work in swimming trunks. I do this so I can hose myself down in an effort to keep cool. I'm not sure this does much good, but in the least, it would have to be funny to watch.

Yesterday, I planted one Autumn Fern and repotted a few hostas and was soaked with sweat.

Good luck with your new bed and stay cool.


Salix said...

Hi George,
I think that we all are a bit overwhelmed by the extreme hot weather. I thought that we have lots of fluctuations here, but yours are unbelievable and really must challange some plants too.
You continue to amaze me with how much you get done in a day! Stay in the shade as much as possible today!

Jay said...

56 degrees sounds pretty hot. It has been also really hot in our place lately. Anyways, your garden is a stunner. Very beautiful...
Raised garden beds

Elizabeth said...

I can watch the weather from my house (Brookfield, VT). For about 30 minutes last night, while the lightning was flashing over my roof and striking in the next town up, it was still flashing and striking west of the Green Mtns, miles away . A HUGE storm. Thankfully there was no damaging wind.

We had two heavy downpours of rain, a brief but welcom soaking rain, and a couple of minutes of lima-bean-size hail. Tree leaves litter the ground but the tomato plants and the lettuce came through.