The Bruce Company Blog
No one can deny that we have experienced some wet springs to mid-summers. Official totals of rain and from April 1st through Monday add up to 20.12 inches! Compare that to the area’s average of 14.58 inches over the same time frame. We hope that your gardens haven’t suffered too much damage and that your basements and garages have stayed dry. But given that the thunder will roll and the skies will darken, what can you do as a gardener to mitigate the damage of all of this moisture?
The Dog Days began later than usual this year and don’t end until August 22nd, so there’s still plenty of sultry summer weather in the future. Cicadas and crickets have been singing us to sleep, and nights, though still warm, are noticeably longer. It’s a fact, sad but true. The season of extended summer days never seems long enough, but it’s time for gardeners everywhere to reap what they have sown.
No one wants to be the first to say it, but here we go. The Solstice was four weeks ago and even though the heat of the dog days is in full effect, summer is on the wane. Of course, there are still plenty of things to do in the garden weeding, watering new trees and shrubs, weeding, dividing perennials, more weeding. Not especially inspiring tasks, but so very necessary to the health of our landscapes. Why not take a little break from these mundane, summer chores and do something fun for you and your garden?
When you’re at the Garden Center choosing flowering perennials and annuals for your yard, there are probably many factors that affect your decision. The size of the plants at maturity. The color and time of bloom. Perhaps whether or not the plants will re-flower. These are all qualities that we take into consideration. But let’s throw one more factor into the mix. Do the flowers that you plant attract birds?
The brightest of the stars in the Big Dog constellation is Sirius, the Dog Star. In the mid-summer, it can be seen rising and setting with the sun. This conjunction caused the ancients to believe that Sirius’ heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this stretch of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, the Dog Days, which begin on July 22nd and run through August 22nd.
Summer’s long days and sultry nights can mean more time to enjoy your pond or water feature. But the warmer water temperatures also create a perfect environment for an outbreak of every pond owner’s number one headache-algae. There are two types that are commonly found in home water gardens.
It doesn’t really matter what you call them because one of our favorite sights of summer are those yellow-green orbs flashing against the backdrop of the garden at dusk. Fireflies are not flies. Nor are lightning bugs, bugs. And no one would think that a glowworm is actually a worm. These creatures are classified as beetles and inhabit areas like meadows, open woods and Midwestern backyards. They seem to prefer moister habitats for breeding and laying eggs, and they are carnivorous.
Mid-summer is an especially nice time to start a garden journal. Our to-do lists have shortened and everything is just so beautiful. It’s helpful to make notes of particular diseases or pests that may haunt your yard year after year. Phenology is the study of seasonal phenomena, especially in relation to animal activity, plant development, and climate change. So take a couple of minutes to stroll through and observe what is going on in your garden.
The Plant Desk fields so many questions in May and June about winter damage on evergreens, both needled and broadleaf. Evergreens adapt to winter cold differently than deciduous plants. Trees and shrubs that lose their foliage are able to go into dormancy without those leaves, conserving moisture and exposing less tissue to bitter temperatures. Evergreens do not drop their leaves, but have developed strategies to cope with winter weather.
Although June usually ushers in the gentler garden, the kaleidoscopic colors of May might linger with us a bit longer. We had a very cool spring, but finally, feel like our temperatures have caught up to the calendar! Do try to be a little patient when evaluating viability though. Some woody perennials like Butterfly bush, Caryopteris and Hardy Hibiscus may be a bit later than usual this year.