With my early mornings of late, I've taken to blowing my afternoons with a nap because rising at 4 a.m. is NOT my idea of fun. Just necessity. The evenings don't get too cool at night, hovering in the upper 60's and low 70's, the dew point is the same as the temperatures so that the grasses and everything is moist with all the moisture the generous rains have left behind.
Earlier this week, a violent storm blew thru and brought with it dangerous erratic lightening that fed the trees with their nitrogen, but also struck anything it could, including the Lowes that I work at knocking out the computers and Monday was a flash back to the 1950's in making sales. I was pulled off the watering job and put back on the cash register/computer with the till open and given a stack of sales invoices and told to do the best I could and I proceeded to spend the next five hours of my shift writing out by hand the sales with the assistance of an LRT gun that gave me item numbers (they use it to scan orders and do inventory and cycle counts and they're not affected by lightening, run off of batteries) and my trusty solar calculator I keep in my pocket, I managed to crack jokes and keep 99% of my nursery customers amused and calm as I trudged thru sale after sale. Some small, others huge....credit cards, cash, and charges. It was a work of patience.
My basic line was that Mom Nature had had a conniption fit and struck the building and fiber optics with lightening during the violent storm in the wee hours of the morning and sent us back to the 1950's............<g>
I had experienced a rather serious wake up call that day, but being unscathed, I made up the rather late arrival with staying until the early afternoon and the humidity was incredible. I was grateful that I was standing at the cash register because at least I could stand in front of the fan!!<g>
The trips down the roads with all the rains this week have fed every Chicory plant that grows along every roadside and the fairies have used the laxness of the mowers to their advantage. Every plant is now at least three foot tall or more. And my trips to take son to another Lowes further away because they needed him during an inventory has meant traveling along interstate 40 and hooking north on 640 to go to Clinton and along the interstate and up the on-ramps the Queen Anne's Lace and Chicory and black-eyed Susan's are eye popping.
The on-ramp where I get on from home literally lights up with the light blues of the Chicory and the white fuzzy discs of Queen's lace is a perfect complimentary to the blue.
The road I travel to work has all of that, but with all the rains, or for whatever reason, the ditch lilies aren't winding down, they've increased so much so now that you don't see the blue Chicory, but the flames of the orange lilies. Hundreds of blossoms that literally shout up at you as you drive down Highway 66.
With all these early Summer rains and the appearances of the wildflowers in their times with the heat and humidity, my trumpet lilies are swelling up and bursting. Last week the Dragons appeared over the sidewalks, too fast in growing and forming buds before I could safely stake them, they hung precariously over the sidewalk with my careful passing as I cut thru the sidewalk to the driveway, their fragrances so heavy at times it made me feel drugged.
Now with the heat, they're ending too soon, but stepping up in their place with a heavier sweet fragrance are those incredible Shenandoah trumpets. Sunday Miz Virginia Davis and her son and his wife called to see if they could visit and see my flowers and I threw out the welcome to come for a tour. She just missed the Shenandoah's, but was floored by the pods of them as they were swelling almost before our eyes.
These lilies shoot thru the tangled mat of Lamium or Yellow Archangel that has swelled up to a foot and hover just over the sidewalk bed on the western side. With all the rains this week, the funny green bridge rebar supports I got from the workers were easy to shove into the clay and loose soil to at least brace the inch to two inch thick stems to keep them from bending and snapping with the weight of the blossoms.
Tuesday, I came home to see two of them birthing, with dripping fragrances emerging from the soft yellow/cream lips as they slowly started opening in the humid evening. By Wednesday morning they had burst wide, and the flowers were as large as a dinner plate. I took a picture with my hand next to it for scale. In taking the picture I was almost overwhelmed with the perfumes of them.
Now I have braced one of them against the bridge bar and lost one precious bud as I tried to carefully untangle the other stem of another bulb from the first bloomer. The buds are up top and once they start swelling they inter tangle. Quite a visual. And as heavy as their fragrances are, they overwhelm the honeysuckle to where I can't resist but open my bedroom window to let in their scents. It doesn't take long to fill the bedroom with their smell. How I wish I had courage to lift a bulb this fall and try to propagate some scales for more................
Fairy Holler is a jungle now. The trees that the 17 year cicada's damaged are starting to shake out the broken branches with the storm winds every day, and all this humidity has made all my houseplants that come outside swell and start to respond to the season.
I almost lost a Japanese painted fern under the black cherry tree, but Nature saved them with warnings to be more watchful as the black cherry is greedy of rains and moisture. I am planting a cherished Jack in the pulpit that a garden friend gifted me with that I was unaware of until I saw it in another new garden friend's yard yesterday. The leaves were the same and as I asked her (she's in her early 70's and we met at the nursery when she asked me the identity of a flower she had growing in her yard she didn't want) what it was, she told me a Jack in the pulpit! And that she had four clumps of them. I was elated and immediately made plans to plant my own in a revered spot so it can bulk up and thrive and give me a pulpit next year. I hope.......
As I wander around the gardens and slope, the ground reminds me of all the rains and my toes grab to keep from slipping. There is clay underneath me after all.
And I keep shoving in plants and planting every available inch. Today I got a Sizzling pink Loripedilum and tucked it in the spot where the Caryopteris lived and passed on. Getting into the ground past the Lamium was an effort, I'll tell you. and further up into the ocean of silver and green leaves where the Mrs. Sissinghurst geum's passed away, I tucked in a Futurity red leafed cannas.
Phlox in my large lipped strawberry/herb jar was shoved over after a little pruning of dead stems and tri-colored sedums were put against the phlox to fill the spaces. And for the Hummers I bought a pot of Rhuella today that I happened on at a nice Home Despot that was across the street from where son is working this week (he works at the Lowes). I had no idea that HD carried something called Athens select plants for heat and humidity approved by Alan Armatage!!!! I had to control my urges because they also had Persian Shield in two colorations, a black leafed sweet potato vine and I mean, BLACK.....and two more heat and humidity annuals whose names elude me right now but that I was willing to try.
I ran outa plant money........................<g>
The Loripedilum was a 5 gallon pot and well worth the $14 I paid for it. The darkness of the leaves on the two purchases eased my gardeners soul as I tucked them into their places amidst the silver and greens of the rampant ground cover.
With all this humidity and rain and heat, the 4's have sprung up to heights that scare me. Thick, fleshy, and almost 4 foot tall, I reach into the foliage of the constipated southern beds and pull them out. The deep "thunk" is just teasing the black carrot like tuber that lies in the rich loose soil. I leave a couple, but pull the rest. They will flop if left to their devices and thrill me with a multitude of magenta and yellow flowers, and evening fragrances all their own, but they will also flop and kill tender perennials with their massiveness. I keep enough to satiate me with their aroma's and to kill the Jap's that are now dining on them.
As I stood sweating out front today from the tucking of perennials (this is the first cannas I've planted into the front beds, wish me luck, I could have put them in with the Bengal Tigers and my daddy's Indian shot green canna's down in the gray water bog behind the house) I noticed a pointy head just past the extension bed off the sidewalk bed where the Shenandoah lilies were hovering like huge lampshades.
I squinted and thought I recognized the stalk, and thinking it might be Goldenrod, I went to it, growing there just outside the beds landscape timbers. All six foot of it.......no, not Goldenrod. Purple Loosestrife. And quite a beauty too. I will keep her, and enjoy her bright pink flowers if the Japanese beetles don't munch it down to bones.
My gardens are now ridiculous with overgrowth. Daylilies gasp for breath as they try to rise above their own foliage. The Easter lilies have popped their petals and need pinching. And the Pineapple lily has more than amazed me. I even had to stake it up.
The little wren in the flower basket has hatched her five eggs and out of five fledglings, she is down to four. They sit quietly huddled together, their little yellow beaks highlighting their existance in the soft nest mama built out of moss and grasses inside the woven basket that sat inside the plastic hanging pot from last year I had placed on a shelf on the side deck.
When I finally organized my potting deck (that's actually what it is, with the BBQ tucked in at the corner for occaisonal grilling of various foods) I cleaned off the shelves and organized the many clay pots, empty containers and neat planters. Then put the bags of fertilizers that were on sale, with the Schultz pyrethrum spray I found at the Dollar General store for $1.50 a bottle I snapped up for the up and coming emergence of Blister beetles that will be intent on eating my Japanese anemone to bones. I am ready for them....
The tomato/perennial boxes are recovering from Sugar's excavations last fall and late Winter and I have to remind myself that there is wire covering the plants at the soil level. Daylilies that I thought I lost have come back, weak but back never the less.
Mystic Merlin Malvacaea flops all over the place and needs a trimming. And Bilbor Felhur dissolved. The bed needs attention and replanting. Just not today. It's too sticky.
John's little Deutzia slowly struggles to take hold, no sign of growth yet, as it sits on the northern side of the tomato box, fed rich, black trickling worm casting soil that slips thru the boulder that makes up the wall of the raised bed.
Lambs ears in the woods box have sprawled out the plastic timber bed and the flowerstems need trimming as they fall over with their weight. And behind the puddle of silvery white Ears, paddles of sand papery green leaves of Black-eyed Susans thrust thru with stems of promising arrivals soon to come.
There is no method to my madness.
Against the fence, the Diablo is erupting. The Pizzazz Loripedilum is slowly growing, the Wine and Roses weigelia begs to be moved up front where it can darken it's leaves and bulk up for me. The Oak leaf hydrangea is a great mounding bush, that is somewhat stressed with the removal of some of the lower branches of the protective cedar tree. Appalachian electric had to trim it when the Mimosa and Pawlonia threatened to snap my power lines this spring :(
But next to it, on the northern side of the compost pile, the varigated Weigelia is all happy and thriving in the rich side soils, and next to it the woods poppy is happily thriving under it's skirts.
The Forest Pansy redbud planted on the terrace against the fence beside the dead mimosa trunk that is covered in Virginia creeper is thriving as well, and at her feet, a clump of Little brown jugs ginger that Michael LaForest gifted me with is taking hold. I protected them with a large rock to keep feet from trampling them as you make your way down the steep part of the slope towards the woods.
And inside the overgrown woods room, the damaged Yoshino cherry is struggling after losing tips of her branches to the cicada's. They left my Kornus Cousa dogwood alone though, and the Harry Lauders filbert is growing nicely. The other Forest Pansy redbud I fear has passed on. And I lost a Viburnum tomentosa that was tucked against the edge of the last terrace because it was out of sight to me and starved for moisture when it was trying to establish. I feel like a murderer........But the prickly pear cactus near it on the rocky ledge laugh and thrive.....go figure. Makes more sense though.
After much worrying, I took shears to the Vitex and cut off all the massivly damaged limbs and now I think this fall I will whack it completely back to give it better time to reasses itself in structure next year.
The Crape Myrtles for whatever miracle survived incredible shredding of end stems and didn't break but a few ends. And the Orange sherbert trumpet vine is loaded with blossoms. It already needs trimming back, I've shaped it like an umbrella.....
And vinca has swallowed the ground underneath the Zebra grasses. It's treacherous to walk near the western side of the west yard.
At every corner is a Spirea, and the old Hollyhock reminds me it would prefer a more prominent spot to show off. The fig is now busy bushing out from my half hearted prunings and making figs, figs, figs. And under her arms and branches, the struggles of the lilies, and other perennials I tucked under her skirts are evident by glimpses of colors. The America lilies flashed red. And the Autumn Joy sedum almost weeps out of desperation for real sunshine. It flops at the corner where I tucked it a few years ago, happy in the soil, but unhappy in position as the fig and Pawlonia shield it from the direct sun it so desperately wants.
My BBQ pit/fountain is amazing., I can't keep the water in because somewhere there is a little leak in the hose that feeds the fairy and Goddess fountains, There are now FIVE frogs residing in the waters and gardens, and yesterday I brought a toad home in a waterlily pot to reside in the gardens and he promptly jumped out of the pot into the first pool of water and sat there looking at me with this disgusted look on his bumpy face.
He was glorious. I know he'll slip in nicely to the community. The mosquito's were so bad, I had to throw dunkers into the water, but they don't bother the frogs. I will let those dissolve and kill the larvae and then throw in some cheap dimestore goldfish next week after I change the water a bit.
Pineapple sage competes with Feverfew that seeded into the herb jar last year and resist any efforts to pull them out and plant them into the garden where they'd do much better. (the Feverfew, not the Pineapple sage, I put that there on purpose). And the pink Panda strawberries are bulking up and producing more pink flowers and soon I'll have some sweet berries again to snack on.
Sweet Autumn clematis is covering the wisteria trellis and there apparently was a planted purple clematis I tucked in at the base, it's worked itself up thru the Kerria japonica and grabbing the Bog sage...
A blousey daylily I had tucked against the Viburnum is showing off her large egg yellow flowers and with the rains, the Viburnum is trying to make blossoms. I forget her name.........
Out front everywhere you look on the west end of the front, blue. The Egnima salvia has gone insane for me, and this year I've been blessed by my very first Ruby throated hummingbird. He's in heaven with my flowers. I hope the Rufus don't run him off. He is awesome. That's who I bought the Rhuella for today <g>
Well I can go on but I have to stop for now. But I promise I will pick this up and end it proper. There are quite a few more bloomings to share with you but 4 a.m. comes early. Thanks again for allowing me to share this with you. There are pictures to share for anyone wanting to actually see some of these wonders.
madgardener up on the ridge, back in a soaked and humid Fairy Holler, overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36