Take, as an example, the Falso Indigo (Baptisia australis) 'Purple Smoke' below at the left. Ignoring the fact that I've consciously tried to move or kill this particular clump three years running because it gets too large for the plants around it, I have to admit that it's a fabulous plant in May and early June, blue flowers towering above perfect blue-green foliage. Now, it's a blackened, dried-up caricature of itself, seed pods blackened and brittle. A good gardener would remove it now, condemned straight to a burning pile. A bad gardener grumbles about it as he walks the dog, but puts off his seasonal cleaning and weeding until the temperature drops below 100ºF.
And the iris and daylilies all look terrible, suffering from heat and drought together, long past flowered youth. The center of each clump tries to survive by stealing water and nutrients from their peripheral limbs, leaving the more visible outsides to dry and break. There are no signs of rebloom from the reblooming irises this year, no energy to spare for creating petal or ovary.
There are, to be sure, some bright spots in the garden. My 'Sweet Marmalade Nectar Bush' Buddleia (otherwise known as 'Podaras #2') has decided to survive. That's the picture at the top of this blog entry (surely I couldn't lead off with the decrepit Buddleia, could I?) It was planted late in 2013 and the harsh winter almost did it in. I didn't see a living sprout until late June and as some sparse gray-white foliage appeared, I've been pampering it with extra water and protection in the hope that it will gain strength and come back again in 2015. I love the perfect foliage and bright orange flowers of this one and this morning I saw the only Monarch butterfly I've seen all year, feeding from this one bloom.
I pray, this Sunday morning, that Fall comes soon to relieve the garden and gardener from our shared misery. We're tired and both need to be put to bed for Winter.