Sunday, August 24, 2014


'Podaras #2'
August, at least here in Kansas, should be renamed.  "Dog Month" might be a good choice.  Or "Browning Month".  Or just plain"The Garden is Tired" month.  Right now, as a heat spell lingers and everything green is in a life struggle to grow just a little more, my garden is certainly winding down, tired and old, unkempt and straggly.

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.

The sedums are also doing well of course, impervious to the drought and coming into their own season in the spotlight.  Autumn in the Flint Hills is a "Sedum Spectacular", in the words of auto salespeople.   Sedum 'Black Jack', backed up by Sedum 'Matrona', makes a quiet and gentle statement of survival here at the left, flower heads ready to bloom and feed the autumn insects.  I grow so many sedums here on the Flint Hills that I often forget there are roses in my garden, hidden and dormant as they are between the sedums and ornamental grasses.

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.


  1. We have the opposite problem over here in the UK. A cool spell has made us all think about the arrival of autumn and it's too soon. We want more sun and more summer! We're all hoping for an Indian summer in September. Helen

    1. Now there's a British export I could get beside! weather and rain!

  2. Yes, my gardens are very tired, too. I still have the bright blooms of Letterman's ironweed, brown-eyed Susan and summer phlox, but everything looks overgrown in the native beds and burned out or exhausted in the other areas. I've been watering some areas, but it doesn't really touch the thirstiness of the land in this dry spell of 100 degree weather. We're supposed to get a reprieve towards the end of the week and the gardens and I are anxiously awaiting its arrival.

    1. My Brown-eyed Susans are a bit ragged due to spider mites. Watched another storm move all around us last night; lightning all night and some rain visible on the horizon, but nothing here.


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