Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lessons Learned: Summer 2012

A few random lessons from a summer in which too much time was spent hiding from heat and mosquitoes:

1. It's almost impossible for me to take a good photo of a crape myrtle. Perhaps because they bloom in July and August when the sun is most glaring? Or because the tiny flowerets that make up their large panicles (I am most likely misusing botanical terms but am in a hurry because I'm packing for Maine) don't like to be focused on? 

I have 15 crape myrtles on my new property - too many, perhaps? They may be the dominant tree in my jungle, with dogwoods and Japanese maples close behind.

2. Hibiscus is a gorgeous plant for containers. I didn't have enough sun at the old house to grow them. I bought a hibiscus tree with yellowing bottom leaves at a big box store for $6.99 and it has flowered non-stop all summer, attracting hummingbirds. I have spent much time entranced by the delicate silky slightly ruffled petals and the perfect flowers that bloom for just one day.

Squirrels have been eating the hibiscus lately, gnawing off the leaves and buds. I never have seen squirrels attack a plant before - dig up plants and dig around plants, yes, but not eating them. Finally, I saw some references on the Internet to squirrels chewing off hibiscus leaves to get moisture.

3. Wild garlic is quite difficult to eradicate. Despite a couple of rounds of hoeing, it keeps coming back. I didn't see any wild garlic in the beds when we looked at the house before buying it. In fact, all the areas in the garden beds that are now infested with weeds were bare. I suspect Roundup was used. 

Bees love the small flowers, though.

4. Be grateful for rain. In a summer when much of the country experienced record droughts, North Carolina had regular rains. During July and August, I rarely had to supply supplemental water. Just as things were beginning to dry out, another thunderstorm rolled through today.

5. The combination of heat and mosquitoes is too much for this gardener. There will be mosquitoes in Maine, but at least I can protect myself from them with jeans and sweatshirts. I miss gardening terribly in July and August - it somehow seems wrong to a former Michigan girl to be trapped inside in the summer. 

I'm linking to Beth at Plant Postings for her meme on Garden Lessons Learned: Summer 2012. 


PlantPostings said...

How lucky you are, Sheila, to have Crepe Myrtles--and such large ones! I didn't realize you're from Michigan (my neighbor). Beautiful state! And yes, during a normal summer, gardening is pleasant in the upper Midwest from April through September. Thanks for joining in the meme!

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

There are certain plants I find difficult to photograph Russian Sage or most Sages in general. Hibiscus is the plant I am seeing everywhere this summer. Even in Michigan I saw a lot of it in gardens. Interesting about the squirrels...I wonder if you put out another water source for the squirrels they would leave your plants alone? Have a great trip to Maine!

Sheila Read said...

I developed a sort of prejudice against crape myrtles because of their overuse in commercial landscapes, but I have to admit they are growing on me.

Karin, what baffles me is that I have a birdbath that is always full of water. Perhaps the squirrels don't want to share with the birds? :)

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Sheila I am with was the heat here that had me trapped indoors but few mosquitoes due to drought...I have had bothersome squirrels attack plants at the old there are far too many predators so squirrels are seldom seen on my side of the awful that you are being overrun by invasive weeds. As you can see roundup doesn't work. I have had to keep weeding constantly to get them. Some research online as well to help me know how to get rid of certain ones.

I am just learning about crepe myrtles but they look lovely...I have hardy hibiscus with no bothersome squirrels. Hoping your weather is more gardener friendly soon!

The Sage Butterfly said...

The pollinators love my garlic chives, too. Your garden is full of life. I, too, can never seem to get a good shot of the crape myrtle.

linniew said...

Such a drastic change of gardening venues! I do like a place with definite seasons. I bet you will get some snow, something we only rarely see in Western Oregon.

HolleyGarden said...

I don't think you have too many crape myrtles. They are beautiful trees that bloom when it's hottest, and have such interesting form and bark in the winter. I would love to add 15 more to my garden!

Stacy said...

Your crepe myrtles must be gigantic, Sheila! They're used here some as street trees, but I don't think I've ever seen one more than about 10' tall. (My photography bugbear is autumn sage. Why is it so hard???) Enjoy Maine--just to wear a sweatshirt sounds like luxury!

Sheila said...

Hi Donna, Sage, Linnie, HolleyGarden and Stacy, I've been offline until now on the island. I appreciate your comments! Stacy, I'm wearing a sweatshirt as I write, sitting on a bench using the wifi at the library... :)

Jason said...

I think larger plants with smaller details are harder to photograph - you want to get the flower or berry and at the same time get the overall effect. Good luck with the garlic mustard - it is very hard to remove, as you know, but it will take over if you don't fight it.

PlantPostings said...

Hi Sheila: I posted about all our Lessons Learned this weekend. Thanks again for joining in! Cheers! --Beth