Friday, June 22, 2012

6/20 Summer Heat, Right on Schedule


Heat. Humidity. The first oppressively hot day after three cool June weeks.
Very sudden ascent into the universe of too much heat instead of too little. It was low sixties all day Sunday as we stood around outdoors at a graduation party and people eventually gave up pretending and began sending indoors for sweaters and jackets. Fifties over night.
I wake Tuesday morning thinking, damn, I’m chilly and we’re more than halfway through June.
On Wednesday, the first day of summer, a well foretold event, the world changes completely and the government is putting up heat advisory signs. The day lives up to its billing. I have watered the night before. I work indoors because I have to, the fans on, the windows closed, and a steady stream of self-assurances that the house can always survive the first day





of a heat wave without becoming unbearable.
By the time I get outdoors some transplants are the worse for wear, though the big fat round “Little Henry” shrub I planted Tuesday appears completely at home in its new location under the oak tree where the Bee Balm finally failed last year. We have some new bee balm plants in a sunnier spot between the trees and are optimistic. This Henry newcomer was acquired largely because the owner of the garden shop said this shrub was the only one which bragged how it can put up with shade as easily as with sun, and I, easily persuaded when I’m in the mood, decided it was a good bet.
The shrub has white flowers that are probably near the end of their blooming period, but the coming attraction is the promised autumn transformation of the leaves into purple and lilac tones.
I have been trying to make over two sections of the garden, to respond to changes there and try to get more into them. The one, where I put ol’ Henry (Oh Henry? Hank, for short?) is close to the oak tree, the Ancient One, which stands guard over all this landscape. I stuck some annuals in there late last summer to make a closing statement, but they left holes this spring which nothing leapt to fill. I’m still mulling what other perennial to introduce into the neighborhood.
The thing is, a little bit to the south of this shady spot, a longish corridor of sufficiently sunny ground has grown a paired border of tall lush plants. I’d like to continue the effect.
In place of the low groundcovers, which quit blooming in May – as they always do, you know what you’re getting – I want tall spikey late summer bloomers.
The other section, in the center of the yard and going back to the fence, has the statue of the brown ceramic cat and a wall-to-wall spread of sweet woodruff, which blooms white in the early spring, but is currently indulging a 2-year period of rollback. It does that. An advance; a retreat. If the patch is voluntarily giving up territory, that creates a good opportunity to introduce more variety. In addition to the bee balm mentioned above, I have planted some new “repeat bloom” irises brought this year after their flowering period (so we’ll see); and transplanted some asters that have suffered being covered over by the ecstatic leafage of the midsummer-loving day lilies.
A day lily or two last Sunday, a few more on our next two cool days. Who knows what they did yesterday, too hot to notice, and they are pumping out the orange blossoms today.
We have added some “repeat blooming” day lilies too, a recent variety. We’re hoping to see them do their magic this year.