Random thoughts from a wilted gardener

Must be my Viking blood. I don’t do heat well. Was up Sunday morning early to douse the garden with my watering can and soaker hose before peak evaporation kicked in. Even laid down a couple of bags of mulch, now that I know where the volunteer seedlings are. (Mulch can be a major destroyer of self-sown volunteers, a fact you can use to your advantage or disadvantage.)

When the heat dials up, however, I dial down. Sitting in the shade of my umbrella is a good time to observe, and to think random thoughts.

Random thought #1: Hummingbirds like Allium christophii. Who knew! They’d appear to be the least trumpetlike flower in my garden, but today a lovely irridescent green hummer spent a few minutes sipping from every star. (Every garden needs more alliums.)

Random thought #2: That white Baptisia I bought a few years ago; the one that has never bloomed? It’s blue! I’m actually happy about that mis-labelling.

Random thought #3: Thanks to this heat spell, the garden’s at least two weeks ahead of this time last year. Flower scapes on the Astilbe at least 18″ (46 cm) tall, whereas in a photo taken May 25, 2009, there was no sign of them at all.

Randomly related thought: On the other hand, our infant Metasequoia glyptostroboides in the guerrilla garden might not make it through its fourth season. It prefers a moist location. Despite being watered every three days through the heat, its foliage is stressed. Down by the lake, closer to the water table, it might survive this kind of weather. Up here at the top of the hill on about a mile of inert sand, it’s having a tough time. You can sometimes cheat with cultural or zone denial, but in the long run you’re safer not to.

Random thought #4: Pinching back the Sedum ‘Blackjack’ does keep them more compact. However, the new foliage lacks the dark purple colouration… which is the plant’s main feature, and the only reason I used them to replace old reliable and much more vigorous Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ Pity. Sometimes old reliables are better choices than “improved” cultivars.

Random thought #5: Amsonia tabernaemontana was one of the first plants that I fell in love with by description alone. I looked for it for years before finding it. After all that, I was quite disappointed the first time it finally bloomed. This year, I’m realizing that some plants must be waited for. It’s now beginning to clump up enough to show that it’s the lacy effect of a mature plant that’s the key to its beauty. And it’s quiet, rather than flashy. Mine isn’t there yet, but my patience has been renewed.

And, at last, the weather has moderated on this final day of May. So my thoughts can become more collected.


  1. I love the little seating area in the first picture. I don't have much success with alliums (or should that be allia?) but having seen yours I will keep trying – they make such a striking statement in a garden. I hope you and the tree both survive the dry weather.

  2. Helen, I don't have any Viking blood, but I also wilt in the heat. That's why I live in Maine. So what's with these 90F temperatures in May!! Plants in my garden are also 1-2 weeks ahead of schedule, and we really need some rain (maybe tomorrow).

    I'm glad to see that your Baptisia and Amsonia are starting to reward your patience. These are two plants that I love, both for their flowers and because they provide a nice architectural presence in the garden after they bloom. -Jean

  3. Hi Helen, I adore your random thoughts. The arrangement of the back yard table is really nice. This is really surprising when you bought seeds of a specific flower and then it comes out with a different color.

    Hope you'll enjoy the rain.

You might also like