Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Drive-By

My, my, how time flies by and leaves us standing in the dust of our best intentions.  I was on track for several months to add bi-weekly notes to this blog, but in the middle of June my resolve ran up against the Kansas climate and melted like butter on a stove. This toadstool photo, taken this morning, is illustrative of our gardening year here.

You see, friends, I came into this gardening year so excited for new life and new growth.  Ample rains in March and April erased our long drought and opened up all the nascent promise of
my garden, a green and growing paradise in my immediate vision.  It was almost perfect right up until we received the hailstorm in the last week of April, a hail that stripped leaf and promise and future.

May was quiet here, quiet except for the few peony buds and roses that survived the hail.  There were few irises, peonies, and roses in my early garden, and as the season developed, it was apparent that there were to be no strawberries, cherries, peaches, or apples to console my feelings.  I struggled even to enter my garden, pained by the lack of bloom and vigor, but I held out hope for my stalwart daylilies.

And then, in late May and through June, the heat struck and the rain stopped.  The garden dried and the ground cracked.  The grass turned brown and even the daylilies slowed their onslaught.  Hemerocallis is a tough genus, but not tough enough for early drought.  They bloomed, but not in their usual numbers or robust cheerfulness.

In late June and early July, it rained again, and kept raining at regular intervals, a unusual pattern for Kansas, and the grass greened up and the weeds rushed in.  Weeds, weeds everywhere, but not a domesticated flower to be seen.  Normally, in July, I can count on mowing every other week and relaxing from the heat.  Not this year, for I have been forced into weekly mowings of the entire yard and weeding at every opportunity.   Roundup is my new best friend.  And the ground is wet, wet enough so that toadstools grow in July right by the front walk.  You can guess that the tomatoes in this area are not performing very well in the wet clay.  Right now, the only crops that look to be decent are watermelons and cantaloupes.

And so I stand, on the brink of August, too busy with other things to garden, too depressed to even look at my devastated strawberry bed, too chagrined to even hope for a colorful fall.  I'll write when I can.  I've saved a few photos of the best of the year.  Maybe I can summon the cheerfulness in August to highlight them.

Until then, adieu.


  1. Every word in this post resonates with me. First year with deer fencing, and my roses were astonishingly beautiful and loaded with buds and I was bursting with anticipation when our first scorching, blistering heat wave hit. Buds dried up and fell off the bushes. Blooms looked like pink potato chips and fell within minutes after opening. With a little rain and weather more normal to this region, they recovered and set a second flush of buds just before our second scorcher hit. It was too depressing to go outside to survey the garden. I just considered it all lost. However, I now know which roses are survivors and can stand the heat. Not many, actually. There's time for one more flush of blooms if the weather will just give us a break.

  2. We had similar weather for the summer here. A wet Spring was followed by a very dry May, June, and most of July. I was dutifully watering my two flower patches until I was out of town for half of July visiting family and attending a workshop on Archives. While I was down south, we got some three inches of rain which revitalized some of my flowers. However, those that have survived the deer attacks, heat, and lack of rain and now being devoured by an onslaught of Japanese beetles, especially my rose blooms. You just can't win in Kansas.

  3. Oh, that sounds soooo familiar. While I miss the prairie vistas and my lush, wildlife filled landscape, I do NOT miss the "feast or famine" rain/drought cycles and the dry, windy heat. Down here in the Florida panhandle, we are struggling to acclimatize to never-ending humid heat, VERY sandy soil, and lots of mosquitoes, at least some potentially carrying Zika. I guess you just can't satisfy gardeners, can you?! Stay strong. This, too, shall pass.

  4. May I comment twice? Been thinking about your garden a lot. Third big flush of blooms perfectly coinciding with our third extreme heat wave. You are not alone. Gardeners around the country, even abroad, feel their gardens are hopeless this year. I have a window of 30 minutes before dark when the temps are almost tolerable to try to get the remainder of my new roses in the ground. Only a handful left to plant, but I fear every one will succumb before noon the next day. I'm beginning to want trees. Lots of trees.


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