Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Marking Time in July

We expect July to be hot and humid--that doesn't mean we have to like it!
My Facebook memory feed kindly reminded me that I had linked to a blog post last year on this date, an essay which quite thoroughly expressed my long-standing dislike of hot weather.
The discomfort of stifling heat has this year been aggravated by the fact that both Jim and I are still coughing--an enduring legacy of the respiratory virus which he brought home from his vacation.
I have continued to read, to do the most necessary housework and cooking [we aren't particularly hungry] and to do a bit of gardening.
I didn't cut back the lavender this spring--it quickly broke dormancy and flourished with fresh tips and flower buds.
As the blooms faded and dried the effect became very tatty.
I should perhaps have pruned most of it back to the ground, but I settled for snipping off the dead flower stalks and cutting out bedraggled undergrowth.
I decided to leave the clump of purple violets which appeared in a corner of the herb bed.

Grass had sprouted in the sidewalk cracks and along the edges of the side porch steps.
By the time I tackled this area on Tuesday forenoon the cats had retreated to sprawl on the porch floor out of reach of the sun.
Several varieties of thyme are planted along the outer edge of the walk, interspersed with dianthus and a few spare lavender plants. 
Kneeling on an old cushion I snipped and pruned and pulled invasive grass and weeds.
I thought I had been working for about 45 minutes. 
When Jim appeared and invited me to go with him for errands I realized I had been working in the hot sun for over two hours.
It was a relief to go inside for a cool shower, clean clothes, and then become the passenger in an air-conditioned car.

When our nephew and his wife were here last month we went with them to explore a wild acreage they have purchased on the other side of the county.
Masses of rambling roses grew along the rough track and clambered through the weeds.
I expect they are escapees from a nearby abandoned farmhouse.  C. obligingly brought me back a bundle of roots which I poked into a pot of earth.
Careful watering has inspired the growth of fresh green leaves and hopefully the development of healthy roots. I will find a spot to plant these before frost.

The double daylilies are nearly at the end of their bloom for this season.

Swallowtails enjoying the tall phlox.

The flower garden has gone shabby; lilies, achillea, foxglove, coneflowers finished with their first bloom.  The self-sown cosmos have taken over.
I have dead-headed and cut back in anticipation of fall bloom.
I have spread more mulch--I think one could endlessly add mulch.
During a recent hot afternoon I read a small book of memoirs by a woman who gardened throughout her life in the Charleston, SC area.
The basics of her garden were laid out by a well-known landscape designer of the day.
Her attorney husband allowed her a generous budget for plants and shrubs, and perhaps most importantly, she paid a 'gardener'/ handyman to do her bidding--the heavy digging,  pruning, weeding.
While her garden was not designated as 'grand' it was appealing enough to be included in garden tours.
What one couldn't do with continuous funds and 'help' in a garden!

I stroll down the lane at either end of the day [when it is cooler] to visit the goats and the barn kittens.
The 'dry' goats have settled into the long narrow pasture that borders the lane.
In the heat of the day they lounge beneath the willows.

It is never too hot to poke a winsome face through the fence in hope of a tidbit.
Barring that, the 'girls' are pleased to have pats on the heads and admiring words.

I will never have the garden of my wistful imaginings.
I doubt I will ever have garden 'help.'
I do, however, cherish the companionship of Willis-the-Cat--my faithful overseer!


  1. We have just had a few days of hot weather, and the garden reflects a dislike of being baked under the sun. But it seems that your flowers are always ahead of our Yorkshire cooler climes. Willis looks a lovely companion, I miss having a cat around, but here we have a road to contend with.

    1. Thelma; From what I read I believe I could deal with the 'hot weather' of England better than high summer where we are living.
      Cats can't seem to stay away from the road. We live on a dead-end road with little traffic, but I have picked up and buried three cats [not mine] in the time we have been here. Acres of pasture, tracks through the woods and still they must wander along the road!

  2. What a lovely post. We have had "hot" too - in the low 30s when I was at Tricia's, which made sleeping difficult. I was planning to get out in my overgrown garden this morning but have just noticed it is now raining . . .

    Some pretty plantings in your plot, and I have Swallowtail Envy!

    1. Jennie; I never can remember how to convert C to F--in looking this up I'm surprised to find that your low 30's are equivalent to the high 80's we've experienced. Our temps are now in the mid 90's which I find totally exhausting.
      Swallowtails are the most common butterfly here--with the yellow ones out-numbering the dark mode.

  3. So good to read a post from you. I'm sorry to see that you and Jim are still coughing and recuperating from that bug.

    It's always nice to see your blooms, butterflies, Willis and your neighbor goats.

    Be well soon dear Sharon and don't overdo your outdoor work.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Whenever I read of the gardening work you accomplish I am in awe of your stamina. Even more than in Kentucky, to step outside in Florida in summer is to be smacked with a thick wet blanket of heat!
      I'm sorry that painful feet are keeping you indoors and hoping that by fall you'll be 'out and about' again.

  4. I dream of a walled English garden. Probably never going to happen, but I can dream. I'm tired of hot and humid too, Fall cannot come too soon.

    1. Janet; Perhaps I should think of my English gardening books as recreational reading and not inspiration for what cannot be.
      Every July I wonder if we chose too southern a location for retirement--the rest of the year I'm good with being in Kentucky.

  5. Can't imagine your stamina, to be out in the sun for 2 hours, and not "notice." I would have been melted in a (large) puddle, well before then. ,-)

    Even up in NYS, the weather is being quite horrible. Very happy for some A/C. But then, I dislike having to close windows/doors, in summer, too. Never satisfied, are we?

    Keep cool......

    1. Luna; I may have learned my lesson about long stints of gardening during a heat wave! We lived on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain for many years, so I know that July has its effects there and in upstate NY. July isn't fun anywhere! My husband has developed a complicated ritual of opening and shutting doors and windows to keep the house as cool as possible--micro-managing. Fall will be a relief.

  6. I think the gardens of our dreams are just that....dreams! Everything has gone to seed here, too, but I keep flowers in pots and that seems to be the best way to enjoy them in the heat of the summer. No weeding, either! Love seeing your sweet little 'neighbors'. Cats are always the best company! Mine even like to smell the flowers with me! We are just starting our summer here in WA state. It has been very gray and cool until now. I am white as a ghost. xx Karen

  7. Karen; I daresay I need to come to terms with my increasingly feeble efforts at maintaining gardens. The 'dream gardens' pictured in glossy magazines and coffee table books have undoubtedly been meticulously groomed for photo sessions and surely the big ones--open 'for show'--receive the devoted attention of 'gardeners.'
    My shabby gardens still bring me much joy--and perhaps that should be enough!

  8. my garden is also looking a bit drab, that between time, when the spring plants are over but the autumn flowers yet to come.
    I did enjoy seeing the goats.

    1. Kath; Anything flourishing in our heat wave must be of a tropical nature! I've given up on the garden until the weather changes.
      The goats are stoic in the heat and always interested in human attention.