Hello fellow readers, As I write, it is Labor Day, a day of rest for many, and thankfully soft rain has begun. Countless plants in our gardens and trees and shrubs are tired from the dry summer we endured. But there is magnificence too. This morning I invite you to walk with me to find the delights in my dry summer garden.
There are garden treasures despite a drought.
The first stop is a Seiryu Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) to the left of the stone walkway. Its leaves seem sparser this year, but still lovely and lacey. The Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa) below is happily unaffected by the dryness. Next to it, a few hostas are flowering their dainty violet bells, although deer have nibbled the leaves.
As I walk towards the bridge, rising high is Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) below the American flag. It’s a tall native plant seen roadside. ‘Gateway,’ standard in the trades, has volleyball-sized purplish-pink flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds adore August through September on top of five to seven-foot maroon stems. The seeds are dropping early this year but still have a pinkish cast.
Making my way down to the brook, it’s so low you can walk across it atop the stones. With the anticipation of a significant storm ahead, there’s a risk of flooding overnight—one extreme to the next.
Tired leaves opt to drop.
The carpet of moss along the brook’s edge is soft and plush despite the season, with brown Tuliptree leaves scattered about — tired leaves, the tree opted to drop. Glancing up at the mother tree, several of her leaves have turned yellow early, looking like flowers amongst the lime leaves. Walking below her, I see many are scarred with fungus or insect damage—scars of life’s challenges, a badge of honor to resilience.
The Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) outside the screen porch are forming their baby buckeye nuts that will grow one or two inches. They’re plentiful and seem unaffected by the drought. Next to them, the young volunteer Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) has charming little donut holes from an insect making polka-dotted leaves.
Thank you, Mother Earth
Between the garage doors, a Mother Earth face pot takes center stage. I encouraged a dear client to buy her when we shopped for plants. Then Judy gifted her to me years later when they moved from their home; I cherish it.
The ‘All Gold’ Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa) with bright golden foliage is less bright this year. But the wispy leaves puffed in flower look like lovely bangs below her ‘Brunette’ Snakeroot (Actaea ramosa) hat of dark purple foliage that can grow four feet tall. This year the vegetation is worn despite due diligence to keep it well watered. But the narrow white plumes with a tinge of pink are beginning to emerge. Less than last year, but more adored given the difficult season of growth– thank you, Mother Earth.
Now comes the best of the show.
I stuck a few sunflower seeds in a pot from a mixed seed pack I snagged on a whim. When they sprouted, somebody ate them, likely squirrels. But a few survived, and they are now in bloom. I’ve enjoyed watching their progression from the kitchen window— each flower opening up like an eyeball. As they unfold, they’re winking at you. And then comes the full bright yellow face of happiness. Today a maroon one is in full bloom and sheds its joy too.
Yes, the leaves are tattered, but let’s not scrutinize things so closely. Instead, look at the big picture and marvel over the magnificence. Enjoy your garden. Enjoy the Garden of Life.
There’s much more joy to be shared in this story in Episode 73 of the Garden Dilemmas Podcast:
and Bird’s & Bloom’s article – Top 15 Drought-Tolerant Plants That Can Handle Dry Weather