Today I was ripping the backroads and the early heat blast was making things
really burst. As I tore down Highway 66, I couldn't help but notice the
increased colors and couldn't ignore the feast of colors before me. With
the low 90's these last days and the very high humidity, everything wild or
gone wild has tripled in size and bud.
On either side of the road tightly packed was brilliant blue waves. Chicory
that was two and three foot high and so dense it looked like foamy waves
curling against the hot asphalt. Beneath them, like a contradiction were
brilliant orange flames of ditch lilies so thick it was distractive.
As I careened down the highway, it got more and more colorful with this
color combination. It didn't quite go together, as the orange was deep and
brilliant orange. And the blue was intense and light sky blue, but Nature
Occasionally there would be this disturbing visual explosion that offended
the color sense of even the protesting fairies because there'd be this
rising pool of screaming pirkle wild sweet peas. And dotting the steeply
rising slopes of the ditches on their opposite sides were deep, deep red
orange of the butterfly weed. How I adore and lust for a good clump of that
in my gardens! They resist any attempts at digging as their taproots are
down to New Zealand.
I'm not sure what they are, some sort of wild parsnip or something, but with
the early furnace blasts of heat there are these great foamy bushes of what
resembles Queen Anne's lace on steroids. Big, puffy, white flowers that are
as large as a basketball! The smaller flowers are bread plate size.,
When I got home, I had dragons hovering over the sidewalk out front. During
the night, every Dragon lily popped it's buds and with the 90's today, the
air was heavy and oily with their fragrances. Especially in this sticky
And over where I park the car, all the yellow Anaconda trumpets and the
Yellowstone lilies have begun to reveal themselves. The air fairly drips
with their fragrances.
On my drive thru Monteagle pass last night, I was alerted to yet another
fragrance that I associate with summer for the South. There would be great
pools of their floral, fruity fragrances as I drove up thru the steep pass
and thru the hill they cut the interstate thru just south of Chattanooga. I
immediately saw in my mind's eye, ferny trees loaded with pink powder-puff
flowers. The mimosa's are blooming. The hummers will be beside themselves.
My own hummers are already beside themselves with over abundance. And all
the little hover fairies are all a twitter as the St. John's wort bush is
starting to make it's nifty little yellow puffs. Every picture I took this
afternoon was a capture of little hover fairies busy in the puffs of bright
With the heat comes the popping sounds of daylilies trying to keep up with
opening and closing. One day Delta Queen will wow me with her huge buttery
yellow flower, and the next day it will be spent like a burst yellow balloon
hanging limp next to the next bulging bud ready to reveal herself.
The heat is so draining, the Autumn Jazz viburnum needs some mulch and I'm
not a mulching person. If I don't I'll lose another bush, so mulch I will as
soon as I find the pile of grass clippings that Miz Mary's lawn guy dumps
when he mows her lawns.
Now there are FOUR frogs living in the BBQ fountain. And arrogant? Two of
them have serious issues with my coming outside when they're just hanging
out. They just sit there with these attitudes of "WHAT????" and peer at me.
The other two are wimps and dive into the quickly thickening water.
The furnace is also affecting the figs on the fig tree. I have two sizes of
figs on my tree this year. Last year I had early formations because I didn't
cut the limbs back. and I was rewarded with almost more figs than I could
eat. But I cut half the branches back because I don't know how I'd have
reached the figs up top and this year the ones I trimmed have sprouted new
side shoots and have little figs on them. and the older branches I left on
have huge figs on them.
Surprises continue to jump out at me in the gardens. There are pink fuzzy
caterpillar like flowers on the ends of the Korean spirea and now I haven't
the heart to pull up the extra's.
All the black cherries are gone. The grackles came and stripped the trees
raw and bare. And it's quiet. The females cicada's have all sliced and died
for their children. It's almost eerie in it's absence. I hear a few stray
thrums of their machinery from late comers in the deeper woods below me to
the south, but the bulk of them have come and had their orgy and left the
next batch of kids to eat and grow over the next 17 years.
Every sempervivum I planted last year is pulling out the whole show and
making those pink and rose colored stars on the ends of little stalks. Even
the hairy, cobwebby ones are pulling up and making stars. It's the heat. It
has to be.
My Mr. Stripey tomato's in the huge pot beside the Peace Chicken garden have
grown three foot in two days. And I still haven't planted the Russian
salvia............or the bucket of unidentifiable irises that have wild
violets nestled against them.
Just as I account for the blooming plants of this week, I remember there is
another harbinger of summer. The red sumac. All along the interstate as I
was going to put mom in the nursing home yesterday, I saw the Staghorn red
sumac trees all weedy and growing unchecked in the medians and edges of the
woods with brilliant burgundy fur tucked tightly against the stems of every
As I sat in the traffic jam just eastwards of Lookout mountain view, I saw
deep red shining back at me just near the edge of the wild growth of trees
and bushes. Blackberries. Made me wish I could return with a bucket and park
on the shoulder and gather them when they blacken later on. I saw enough to
put up a few quarts of rich, bitter fruit jam.
In this heavy heat and humidity I've also noticed the fancy fliers. The
black square winged dragon flies. This year there are three times more of
them than last year and I love watching their aerial feats.
The heat is having another effect on my flowers. The gladiola's and
Crocosmia's can't keep up. You can almost hear the creaking of the leaves as
they slice thru the air trying to set buds in the folds of their fans.
I was worried about the red rhode cooking in the direct Southern sun, but
the Joe Pye has grown up nicely and shades it wonderfully. It won't get even
a tan. Mostly because next to it, shading it on the other side is the
Heliopsis that has shifted over a foot, and as an after thought, thrown
another daughter out of the box to be lifted and planted somewhere else like
the last one.
Thanks for letting me ramble. Today's visuals had my head full of colors and
images and fragrances. As I go to bed, I cracked the window open and the
smells of the Dragons and Anaconda's and Yellowstones ooze thru the screen
window and into the bedroom to fill up the sleeping air. Dreams will be
most wonderful tonight.
Thanks for letting me share.
madgardener up on the fragrant ridge, back in Fairy Holler overlooking a
sticky and muggy English Mountain (actually you couldn't find English
Mountain today) in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36