of asters and composite mums, buddelia's and hummingbirds in salvia

Today was a hot day. Asked to come in earlier than was scheduled, I arrived at work with the feeling that the prediction of hottest day of the year here in Eastern Tennessee would indeed come to fruit. It was uncomfortable as I stepping outside to get into the car, swinging the broom handle ahead of me as I made my way thru the narrow walkway on the small deck because it's that time of the year. The time when the fat red spiders hatch from wherever they are and string impressive webs every dusk between anything they can find to anchor onto. Tree limbs, gates, onto a plant stand on one side and the 7 foot Cereus cactus on the opposite side with fat red mama hanging out in the middle just WAITING to smack me in the face with her unsuspecting body........... Not that I am afraid of them, there's just nothing like running into their massive webs and knowing their up in yer hair somewhere........(they aren't harmless to us). Once I got to the car, and threw my bag with the extra GatorAid into the front seat with my back brace and apron, tucked my huge jug of sweet iced tea into the spot between the two front seats, I pulled out and was immediately aware that we had fog again. But not normal fog, thick, oily fog that I've spoken about before.
The drive to work was trecherous but other than encounters with fleeing rabbits and skunks along the winding back roads to work it wasn't very eventful.
I was happy to see that someone had turned on the night sprinklers on the nursery the night before from the creeks running across the parking lot as I went thru my morning parking lot ritual of preparation.
By the time I made it to the greenhouse to clock in, I had a feeling I was in for something different as I noticed something moving beneath me as I walked towards the sliding doors that leads into the outside nursery. It was a frog or toad.....too quick for my eyes to see more than the hopping movement as it hauled boogie under the tables the tropical plants are on near the door. Outside rituals began as I turned on the outside front sprinklers to run until 7 giving the burgandy, white and yellow mums that fills way too many tables out front a deep drink. Then shut off the inside sprinklers, go get the gate key and turn off the outside sprinklers that shower the landscape and ornamental bushes and small trees on the east side. It was heating up and the sun wasn't fully up yet, the sun an ominous orange red in the morning sky, I knew this was gonna be one hot day.
As I opened up the side gate to turn off the hoses, I noticed there had been a night drop of more plants and I wondered what they were....and as I came back inside to lock the gate back up, I noticed we'd also gotten the first fall shipment of trees and shrubs too. Seven pallets worth. Lordy, the day was going to be a busy one in the above mid 90 degree temperatures.
As the morning dragged on and the heat and humidity rose even higher, the vendor who places the flowers for the one shipment popped in around 9 to beat the heat and she was relieved to find out that the shipment had already been put into the computer so she could just place them out front. It was more mums. Specifically mums that were in small peach baskets but in different colors for a change, despite they were blooming their butts off instead of being bud tight, in my most favorite mum shape.
I am NOT a mum fan. Out of desperation for SOMETHING to plant for the fall that is locally available, I resorted to a few mums only when they were unusual colors or had my favorite flower shape. The composite shape. The daisy. I already have a small clump of Clara Curtis that thrills me with her weak return as she gains strength to make me smile with her pink daisy like petals rising above the unmistakable aeroma of mum leaves.
The newer colors in the peach baskets were burgandy daisies that resembled pyrethrums only they had mum leaves. And then there were the ones that had peach, yellow and pale cream white that spidered outwards, and the deeper pink ones that looked like Clara's bigger sister.......... There was another one of a bright yellow with orange brown tips that called to me as well.......I immediately picked up one of each color that wasn't blooming so much and tucked them in my hole where I put plants I want at the end of the day. This wasn't going to be easy.
As the day dragged on thru the stifling heat and humidity I trudged thru the day happy that it was at least a nice day, despite the feeling someone had left the sauna door open. Then the Stacy's driver arrived with a load of perennials for me to sign in, and I warned him good naturedly that he'd better not have any mums.......and we both laughed as I left him to drop the carts off out front and I went looking for the LRT we used to scan in the products.
Once I made it thru the cooler store and was only stopped five or more times by customers and assorted chaos due to inventory going on around me, I made my way towards the outside where the racks were waiting for me. Hostas, more hostas. What ARE they thinking, those who order these plants? We already have enough to plant an acre of them left over from late springtime that have flowered and started filling up the pots that I have snipped the stems off of the flowers as all the bees and wasps did such a remarkable job they had set seeds on alot of them.
And dianthus. A variety called Firewitch that is blooming. Dianthus in August that is blooming??? Well, it's possible, and more viola's, in cute nine packs with handles of three colors. Salvia's, the good standard May Night, and a small Soladago called Little Sweetie that hadn't started blooming yet. But on the rest of the shelves of the racks were four colors and varieties of asters. Hot pink, almost blue, one called Jenny, a purple one,all sitting there smiling out at me from their protective racks.
I scanned them all in, checked the price of the asters and decided that $1.97 was affordable, and pulled out the receipt from last year I had kept in my wallet in the middle spot that indicated that LAST year about this time I had purchased 6 pots of asters that I'd taken home, opened up a narrow space along side the western bed and tucked them all in along the edge of the bed and there they had sat, bloomed and smiled at me until November. I remember I bought soil to pour over the asters to make up for the lack of soil when I expanded the bed by seven inches. They never came back this spring once asters broke dormancy. I learned a vital lesson. Plant them in the ground and then put soil over the plants, don't sit the plants a little ways into the soil and fill the rest of the area around the plant with topsoil from a bag. They will NEVER make it.
I replaced the asters, got the four mums and brought them all home with me when it was time for me to drag my dehydrated and overheated self home. Tomorrow the asters go into the ground, the mums will sit in their peach baskets until I plug them into the mum pot that has successfully housed another variety of mum now for three years returning, there's plenty of room for two of them as the center dies out and it makes daughters at the edges.
As I unloaded the plants from the car near where the ongoing removal of one forsythia slowly plods along, I hear Rose and Sugar expressing their joy at the sound of the car in the driveway that indicated that mama was home and I was rushed by two black dawgs that immediately jumped into the back seat thru the open door ready to go anywhere, just go with mama in the car. I had to sit down and laugh. I placed each pot around the quarter plastic barrel that Squire had cut for me many years ago that has housed assorted perennials thru the last 10 years (it has coreopsis struggling in it at the moment) and I closed the back door, moved my uniform to the floor and Rose jumped into her place in the co-pilot seat and we backed up to the bricks where I park the car.
Decide this isn't quite enough for the dogs, and pull forward, check the mail, then back up and they're happy. they've ridden in the car with me. We can all unload and go inside. Dogs are easy. Rose goes and checks out the pots I've placed around the larger pot by the Helianthus and asters, Sugar chases Polluxx thru the jungle of the side yard and it's not but a few moments that both dogs are standing behind me ready to go back into the cool house thru my nook door.
On the railing near the screen door the Lipstick vine flowers have popped open and are amazing looking, all fuzzy and neat. Above, hanging on a nail I've hung a silver leafed begonia that decided to flower for me, and the pink butterfly bush just on the other side of that is loaded with over 9 butterflies oblivious to me because of the honey scented flowers that are now reblooming on the bush since I had cut the spent flowers off weeks earlier.
The cold air hits me like a wall and I step inside to start shivering and I know I've overheated a bit, and I place the jug of tea on the corner of my computer table, take the empty GatorAid bottles into the kitchen to be filled up with more that I make in a gallon jug, and get out of my socks and sneaks. (I have luminescent feet now thanks to the fact that I have to wear sneakers).
Sinking into my office chair and log on, I decided to start this piece, but am distracted by the show outside as the acrobats float and cavort on every pink cone of butterfly flower. Seven different types of flyers are visible, and then they all scatter as the arrogant hummingbird strafes thru the bush, making those insane turns at the unbelievable angles and I sit and just watch "nook T.V." for how long I don't know. The hummer tests and tastes every blue flower left on the Egnima, and then sits atop a bare stem that rises above the rest of the quite large plant.
I slipped my summer shoes on, and grabbed the camera and was rewarded with the Swamp sunflower that I lovingly call my Marijuana daisies are in complete blossom. Hundreds of them lighting up the whole area they have claimed as theirs. Then I spot the brilliant red of Lord Baltimore tucked almost unobserved by me in the tangle of 5 pointed and serrated leaves and daisy/coreopsis like flowers in such abundance I remember why I pulled it up along side the road now, despite that it's VERY invasive.......
NO sign of my beloved blue mist Eupatoria.......that distressed me. I so very much love that plant. It was a gift to me from the former owner who had it growing with the tiny asters and feverfew and green sedums in her narrow version of the original flower bed. I have since expanded, lifted, raised and planted more flowers where she humbly gardened than she would have ever imagined. I wish I had her eye for painting the flowers I so much adore, but my digital camera catches what I so desperately try to describe to you all now and that makes me happy.
Sugar has almost ripped herself in half squeezing out the cat window one last time because I've left her inside while I'm outside and I realize she wants to be with me and don't scold her, her immediate attention to her sore tummy tells me she won't try that again, or will knock the whole piece of wood out next time in her desperation to join me out in the gardens.
I now have a dog that doesn't fear water. As I give pots drinks of water, she growls and snaps and acts a fool at the spray from my watering wand head and I egg her on, laughing at her and she actually smiles at me. This might have worked out better than I hoped. As I laugh as her, I hear a door pop and there's Rose, looking at me like I betrayed her, and giving me that "I know how to open up doors" look....and Sugar abandon's me for "Mama Rose" and they go growling and gargling their wierd dawg sounds as they play up and down the driveway as I have no front yard. How I wish just once I had something of a front yard for them to cavort on. But when Rose and I walk down the driveway for "pasture" functions, Sugar cracks me up as her legs become springs and she BOINGS BOINGS thru the tall five foot grassy weeds that Mr. Hammer was unable to mow with his bush hog and hay cutter. I see the tops of the grasses rustle and I know about where she is and I know she's having a blast. If I could get large Marge (Rose) to create a path for me, I'd walk with them into the mowed part of the pasture and they'd have a ball, but if Rose doesn't flatten the grasses, I'll wind up with such a case of chiggers you have no idea............
Watering done, the bed around the BBQ pit/fountain is pathetic now, as the fig tree has completely shaded it with limbs loaded with figs as tall as 13 foot. In my desire to clear a walkable path thru one side that used to be there before the asters and Lemon Queen joined hands, I tied the Lemon Queen to branches of fig tree and now the Lemon Queen is sulking and pouting and dying back. Rats. Makes me think this time I will take seed heads of the Swamp Sunflower/Daisy plants when they start making and sow some along the fence row and down near the woods to see if they come up for more yellow oversized coreopsis like flowers next year. I already have a volunteer purple loosestrife down near the woods.
As I stand with the waterhose in hand, I realize my garden is now in a erratic state. White phlox is still blooming but it's lying horizontal and curving upwards behind the 13 foot multi-branched sunflower the birds gave me. The Joe Pye is about spent, but covering the outer portion of the wisteria trellis is Sweet Autumn Clematis and it's white stars are shining back at me. When did these open?? I almost missed them!!
As I make my way back to the nook, stopping to lay the hose down instead of winding it back up, I notice that Beverly's pink anemone has shoved thru the Korean spirea jungle and has set quite a few buds and one is open. It's a nice effect. I look for the Chinese Almond and see that I might have lost it, and that's when I notice that there is a huge trunk of a Swamp sunflower plant that has not only jumped bed, but has filled up the whole standing spot. I didn't hesitate, I pulled it up and immediately opened up more sunny area for the lilacs I planted in the huge nursery pot for this year.
As I round the car and go back across the wooden deck that sags in one spot towards my nook, I am almost beaned by the hummer who has not seen me coming across the walkway. He stops and chirks at me in aggrivation and careens upwards and heads towards the sunflowers and onward to the trumpet vine past me.
I am too hot to plant the asters and mums. They'll have to live in the pots for a few days. And now there are bulbs to consider at work.......there is no hope for me, the fairies have me brain washed completely now.
I will end this ramble and thank you for your time and allowing me to share with you. There is always something to share with you all......... madgardener up on the ridge, back in fairy holler, overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee where it was the hottest day of our year that day..........
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