A turn to summer


The garden has survived with minimal issues after a sudden turn to summer temperatures following recent cool and rainy weeks. I have not fared so well, reserving my daily garden strolls for late evening when the sun is setting, though I suppose I will also survive.

A year ago, yellow leafed coral bells (Heuchera ‘Electric Lime’) faded quickly in a dry spell in June after a damp May, but now there is just enough moisture in the ground and more moderate temperatures are forecast. Still, the change from spring to summer is evident, with a few brown edges to leaves of ‘Autumn Moon’ Japanese maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’, below) and others that would be better sited in a shadier spot.  Mophead hydrangeas and a few perennials wilt in the afternoon sun, reviving after sunset, and several hostas in a bit too much sun have begun to fade. If the garden was irrigated summer fading would be lessened, but it’s not so bad, and I’m happy to have a garden able to fend for itself instead of requiring constant attention. If any plant requires more than the rain that fall through the summer, it won’t last long in this garden.

After a slow start, and minor damage from freezing temperatures in March when growth was beginning a few weeks too early, mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Dear Dolores’, below) have rebounded and are doing splendidly. A year ago, more severe damage required cutting many stems to the ground, and mopheads were slow to recover, flowering sparsely through the late spring and summer. 

Lacecap and Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) are more tolerant of cold, and Oakleafs are particularly robust this spring. Leaves are larger than usual, and flowers are as good as ever. In several areas of the garden, select branches of Oakleaf hydrangeas must be pruned annually so that neighboring plants are not overwhelmed. There are more compact forms, but branches of larger growing Oakleafs sprawl in every direction, up and over smaller neighbors. I try to keep up with such things, but not everything that should be done gets done. 

The yellow leafed Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’, below) suffered a bit in a brief spell of hot weather in May, with several leaves scorched. It is, however, flowering more abundantly than in previous years, though flowers are considerably smaller than on other Oakleafs. Probably, ‘Little Honey’ would fare better in a shadier spot, but it’s growing vigorously, and it’s far from a favorite, so I’m hardly motivated to move it. At best, the yellow foliage is a novelty, though I’m also not considering chopping it out.

The hybrid daphnes ‘Summer Ice’ (Daphne x transatlantica ‘Summer Ice’,above) and ‘Eternal Fragrance’ (Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Frangrance’, below) are into their third cycle of blooms since the first flowers a few days after freezes passed in mid March. The foliage of ‘Summer Ice’ is superior, but ‘Eternal Fragrance’ flowers more heavily and with greater frequency. Both are marvelous daphnes, and much easier than Winter daphne (Daphne odora) and ‘Carol Mackie’, which are wonderful plants but a little more particular about their circumstances. I’ve found that in this garden daphnes prefer part sun for best flowering through the heat of summer, but flowering is stunted in a bit too much shade.

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