Better judgment. Who, me?

Better judgment, no matter that it is in short supply, dictates that further planting should be delayed into September. Weeks of rain have revived much of the garden that had slipped into its usual summer slump, tempting an early August start.

Late plantings in June have fared well despite an ill timed, but typical turn from an unusually rainy late spring to summer heat. For a short while there was concern over wilting foliage, but the summer deluges arrived just as I was becoming desperate enough to drag the hoses out. Today, areas of standing water remain in the rear garden, but most of the garden is in splendid condition for this point of the summer.

This Painted fern has started on a mossy stone bordering the stream.

There is no better time to transplant sporelings of Ostrich and Japanese painted ferns than during a week long stretch of rain, but it’s August, and surely there’s more heat and a few dry weeks ahead. So, ferns and other planting will wait, though I’ve recently plucked and planted a few tiny toad lily seedlings that were growing between cobblestones. It seemed a certainty that sooner than later my wife would weed these out, despite warnings to the contrary. If they survive, great. If not, I’ll blame her, and in fact, there are so many of the few toad lilies that regularly sprout seedlings that these would not be missed. Many are weeded out and tossed.

Early toad lilies (Tricyrtis) are beginning to flower, though many will not begin until mid or late September. A few seem a bit stunted in growth, but there’s no likely cause that I can see, so probably they’ll catch up in the next few weeks.

Looking through plant lists for autumn purchases, I realize that I’ve finally reached the point where new names in toad lilies are not exciting me. How many are enough? It seems I’ve reached that point, a rarity for me. The photos and descriptions seem too much like more of the same, so none have made it onto early autumn orders.

The yellow toad lily I planted last year is still alive, after I’ve failed multiple times with yellows for whatever reason. At the moment, I don’t recall its name, and it’s in a spot that is damper than I’d like, but it’s struggling along, and possibly there will be a flower or two next month. Other first year toad lilies are doing better, but I don’t believe another yellow has made it this long. There should be nothing about yellow flowers that makes the toad lily less sturdy, so I write this off as only bad luck, repeatedly.

Somewhat oddly, several witch hazels and Oakleaf hydrangeas are already showing autumn foliage color. Late summer heat stress occasionally causes this, but it’s hardly been hot, so I suspect the stress could be from excess soil moisture, or vigorous soft growth followed by short periods of heat. It’s nothing to be concerned about, I’m quite certain. For early August, I’m happy as can be, though I’d be perfectly content never to see another patch of nutgrass that I’ve been battling through the mud and the muck.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth says:

    Dear Dave, here in California, we would give a lot to have your east coast rains! I miss rain. Anyway, The blog was lovely, and the little fern looked really sweet! Have a good rainy August day! 😀

    1. tonytomeo says:

      Hey, our climate is just fine. The only advantage to rain about now would be if it could slow the fires down.

      1. Dave says:

        I’m not sure we could start a fire in a pile of leaves. Certainly, this is not our typical summer, though rain is much more regular than in your area.

      2. tonytomeo says:

        My former neighborhood in the rain shadow of the Santa Cruz Mountains got only about a food of rain annually. I am looking at real estate in Trona, near Death Valley, where the average annual rainfall is only four inches. (You can probably understand why some of us miss rain when we have not seen it for months.)

  2. Cindy says:


    As always, I enjoy your postings which are filled with laughter, sadness, joy, and accomplishment. The photos are spectacular. I love moss, so especially enjoyed the little sprout Painted Fern.

    I was shocked to hear that one would toss aside Toad Lily. How sad! For some reason, mine struggle along with a faint showing of flower. So, it broke my heart to know that these became compost. Boo, hoo, boo, hoo.

    1. Dave says:

      There are currently dozens of new seedlings of Tricyrtis hirta ‘Miyazaki’, which is particularly prolific in spreading seedlings. Occasionally, I’ll find a spot to plant one, but there’s a limit.

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