Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Color

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A foggy, drippy morning here on the mountain. The loons at Peacham Pond are talking in lower voices this morning but they are the only ones conversing. Karl the Wonder Dog and I just returned from our morning walk. There was no excitement this morning---no morning encounters with deer, bear or moose, not even the small animals of the forest and that boredom made Karl turn around by himself and head back to bed. It must be nice!

The rain during the past couple days arrived like it did in May. I keep two rain gauges at the nursery and even the one that was slightly tipped exceeded 3 inches of rain yesterday morning. The upright one was at +5 inches and the Winooski River, still rising and running dirty brown, suggested without doubt that we had finally received some much needed rain.

Gardening has been a challenge this summer because it has been a summer of extremes. First inches of rain and then repeated days of 80° or above. But now it looks like things may slide into a late summer pattern and this is a time when gardens should still be glorious. I greatly dislike the way the media begins hyping the end of summer now with back to school sales and absurd comment about last big BBQ's and final beach forays. Makes no sense to me as actually this should be a time when well planned gardens sport something better looking than a pot of store bought chrysanthemums.

The image up top is from last summer when I was quite pleased with the way the garden along the fence greeted people from Route 2 or our parking area. Last summer was some different than this year and certain flowers such as the tall yellow Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne', growing to 7-8 feet tall and offering masses of color joined 3 foot tall Marigolds named Gold Coin Sovereign as they raced each other to the end of summer and the first big fall frost..

This year some things are better, such as the my-o-my 9 foot tall Thalictrum that's covered with flower bees and bumble bees. But the weather has influenced many flowers and what I expected to be glorious are not quite there this year because of the drought.

Just this same, think of the flowers that I expected to be better and consider them for your gardens for next year. Echinaceas in various colors should be holding on to final bloom now...pinks, reds, yellows, oranges, 3 foot tall heleniums in fall colors should be full and bright, and crocosmias should be finishing their bright red scapes (or yellows, pinks and whites in zone 6 and warmer). Garden phlox should have offered vibrant colors for weeks now and should be going into a garden flush of color via the later varieties. The bottle brush flower scapes of a half dozen great actaeas, the cimicifugus before registry changed their names. These are magnets for all butterflies and many bees and add living, moving, natural color to your gardens. The various daisies should still be blooming and turtlehead should be budding up for its "have-you-ever-seen-me?" presentation.

So with these opportunities and dozens more, it's appropriate to think of what you have and what you're missing so your gardens look colorful and inviting while others think unkind end-of summer thoughts. Challenge your thinking and when you stop by a nursery offering those absurd give away, get-it-out of here-plant sales, ask the nurseryman to help you make your gardens last longer. You'll be happy you asked.....guaranteed!!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a very soggy Mrs. Doe Deer just looked up at my office window. "Keystrokes?" she's asking, "Keystrokes????" "I hear keystrokes."

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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Stop by VFF where we'll help you grow your green thumb!

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