This is the first year I have really sloughed off on posting Midwest Gardening. Spring was a frenzy---being so late and then scrambling to celebrate June holidays and a monumental birthday. Scrambling 8 weeks of yard clean-up and garden planting into less than three weeks was exhausting. Spring was cold, late, dreary and miserable! Even the Daffodils were late...!
After a chaotic June, at the beginning of July, I had Covid---worst part which continues is the lack of energy. This has lingered all the way through August and September.
After I tested negative, I did take a vacation out west, but basically dragged my body around for the 16 days. It was a fabulous trip, but I came home sooooo tired.
So, Gardening for August/September in Chicagoland. Two words-Hot and Dry---with an occasional deluge, much like the rest of the country. When it did rain---it ran off our rock hard clay/dirt and was of little use.
I'm so glad we used black fabric in the vegetable garden because it helped with the moisture, and cut down on the weeds. I had mulched some of the landscaping, (we have a cycle of about every three years, we do different areas each year).
Continuous watering helped, but there were still losses---strictly due to the dry and hot conditions. This lovely bush was planted in April---with lots of watering, but it was just parched, the Marigolds must have used all the water, because those are self-seeded from last year.
Pretty Sad---I filled in this planter with some mums, I removed it two weeks ago and put it in the shade to revive some of the Marigolds, Alyssum, and Vinca. Anything else I planted in there was long dead---too hot-this Southern exposure is no longer protected by the
MISSING TREE...later about that.
Right now, I'm a dusk-gardener---allergic to bees and wasps which are rampant everywhere in the garden, I have to be extra careful---many things are being neglected until we get a break in the weather and cooler temps. So, I garden after 4pm, and enjoy my 4 O'Clock flowers.
OUR Flowers and Landscaping were definitely a mixed bag of Successes and Failures.
Some New Clematis (2) struggled with the heat. Crossing my fingers and will mulch heavy for winter. Growth was poor at best. My older Clematis had a tough time also---and no photos of that this year.
Success-Baby Tears have pyramidically multiplied in lots of places, I will try and move some around. Mini-succulents have thrived under the harsh hot conditions. This area does get some shade and roof run-off.
The Assorted Coleus from seeds were gorgeous again---
Coleus are definitely a wonderful way to fill planters in the shade, inexpensively. Impatiens (purchased) were better this year. I do rely on flowers I plant from seed and lots of green plants. Pansies were purchased early in Spring, and tried to survive through the heat.
Sunflowers (none of the expensive seeds I planted made it (8 packages )-but, some old Sunflowers self-sowed from last year and were bonkers on our front walk-go figure? I've hung the dried blooms in bunches along the east fence in hopes they self seed there, while being attacked by Titmouse, Sparrows, Wrens and Nuthatches. The flowers tangling US along the walk really wasn't a good thing.
Our Iris were smashed by the roofers...a few bloomed when we hit 90+ degrees and twisted up in rotted knots of icky-sticky blooms. I never was able to get good photos. I've split and moved many Iris just this week from areas that are too hot on our East side. The corms looked excellent, so I should have great blooms next year. (Note to self to split more next year from other areas.)
Hollyhocks (Sighhhhhh) were non-existent---for some reason or another I think the plants were killed by a frost last Spring. I am reseeding what did grow and barely bloomed and crossing my fingers.They are bi-ennials, and I thought I had kept the chain going.
I have lots of seed flowers now--Zinnias, Bachelor buttons, large Marigolds, but they were VERY late, because they shut down growth during the HEAT. Most are planted in the vegetable garden for the bees.
Upside small seed Marigolds (rusty colors) are huge, thick and blooming like crazy. I will continue to plant these as they are heat and drought resistant, although dead-heading is a full time job.
Purchased New Guinea Impatiens or Vinca---seem to be hardy in hot temps, and we have had some nice blooms all summer. The waxy leaves hold up well in the heat, and no dead-heading as they drop their blossoms, a win-win.
Our Mandila (3), I wintered over in the house---are JUST now beginning to bloom--another variety that shut down growth during the heat---and they are from Mexico. GO FIGURE?
My huge Hibiscus plant/tree which I wintered in the house is finally blooming this week. Now that we have a heated garage, I think I will just wheel this into the garage when I cut it back, and keep it for next year. It took up lots of room in the house.
Oh, and those are a 8" tall marigold variety spilling out of that huge 24" pot. Seriously---if you want blooms in hot weather, try them.
I've forgotten to mention my favorite producing purchased plants are Sweet Potato Vines-they are so worth the money and really perform. This one was in need of a drink, which I watered when I saw the photo!
I use them in pots anywhere that gets at least a bit of shade during the day. The Lime-Green always outdoes the Burgundy variety in growth but, I couldn't find any reasonable this year.
Seed grown Four O'Clocks are huge. And are blooming now---at least they are trying, another plant that shut down during the heat for summer. (those are garden center impatiens, but lookin at my little clumps of Baby Tears going nuts out of that pot. You can see the last of the Phlox behind.
Love the veined leaves on the 4 O'Clocks so named because they don't bloom until late in the afternoon. The flowers create those seed fronds which are interesting too. They are pink or white, and the white is gorgeous at dusk with lights around.
Our ROSES on the backyard trellis were gorgeous this Spring---so many and then they dropped and now many of the canes are dead. Not disease--but, Baked from the continuous sun that area gets all day. I will have to do some serious pruning---sadly. Other shrub roses are barely alive. Heat and humidity in partial shade is not a great combo, either. (I think).
Nasturtiums from seed were lovely and then fried. This is the last 'showable' pot, and these are coming back with some more blooms. I do love them in boxes and pots, and on the railings in the veggie garden. Great bee attracters for early spring polinization in the veggie garden.
TOTAL LOSER___I had planted some seed 'Forget Me Nots' that got quite tall and long and were colorful, and then turn into the worst kind of mini-thistles. Of course they were in every pot I planted---so we are constantly getting attacked by them. Once I realized what the 'prickers' were, I pulled them all out! Blue is so rare and I had skipped Lobelia this year because it seems to have such a short season.
-Semi-Losers are my two new Hydrangeas, one which never came back up this Spring. This one has blooms drooping on the ground. This area gets watered regularly and has some shade in the afternoon---what does it want??? It's been fed, watered and shaded, I have had miserable luck with Hydrangeas.
Always Winner Perrenials
PHLOX perennials were gorgeous as long as they got water. Some are still trying a limited third bloom. I have two new ones a purple and white being nursed in the perennial starter bed in the back yard. They will be moved in Spring.
Giant Sedum I think could survive Nuclear War. Hardy with a firm structure- these are great landscaping plants. In Fall the floral buds turn from pale pink to burgundy when everything else has died. Even the ones that were smashed by the roofers in early Spring, have managed some sort of show now! These are the last flowers that Bees gather nectar from....feeding them for winter.
Another winner are the tried and true Hosta, so necessary for shady areas. Some of mine are looking a bit rough now, but we have moved some things around and I'm trying this Giant Golden one here. Best part ---you have free plants every three years or so---to replace or start over in a new area. I love all the varieties and have quite a few different kinds.
I went for a 16-day road trip and last thing I said as I pulled out of the driveway was, "What will my Hubby rip apart while I'm Gone???" (Long History on this--yes, never leave the house-overnight!)
When I came back---what was gone---our Old Hawthorn tree which gave our cars shade in the driveway---and everything around it.
He built a new boxed-in planter and stained it, filled with dirt and new Mums for Fall. I'm hoping all the buried tulips will come up through the extra foot of dirt. The front bush, a Privet of some sort, was crushed by the huge logs, but it is recovering. This bush always thrives with a good trim.
Setting beams on a slanted lot is always a challenge---they are level, the land just isn't!
This old bush loves the sun now and even growing a new top...the backside is filling in too, of course they are being watered because of the 2 NEW tall, Arborvitae Bushes. The old Vinca vines are growing up through the extra-foot of compost dirt---we have really dented the compost pile this year. We finished it all off with a few bags of mulch and our crossing our fingers everything makes it.
Hubby appeased me over my lost tree with this street lamp---we are still looking for a different black cord that is rated correctly for this. The lamps are on a timer. I can't wait to decorate it for Halloween, which is coming after the 1st of October. I don't do holidays multiple months ahead---honestly life goes too fast as it is. Besides I'm not selling anything or pestering you with ADS for holiday STUFF!
NEXT POST: VEGGIES-Successes and Failures.
And some vegetables were Fabulous-can you guess WHICH?
WARNING: Climate Editorial NOTE
I've been gardening since I was fourteen, or for sixty years and keeping a detailed track the last 25 years or so. Living anywhere is a challenge, but the changes I personally have experienced aren't inconsequential.
Cycles do happen---but faithful plants of years gone by---are no longer viable in the Midwest weather we have now. I have a dozen or more NEW weeds I have never seen before, or have shown up in abundance in the last few years.
We have had invasive poisonous plants from Southern States crop up---in our sheltered backyard in the last five years.
Also, NEW Bugs and Blights that are strange to our normal Zone 5.
Winters have been warmer with wild cycles of freeze and thaw that damage our Zone 5 perennials, hardwood trees, and bushes, even some grass.
The Canadian Geese have become permanent residents without VISAS and never leave anymore. Our lakes don't freeze for the entire winter season, like before. Rivers have had 100-year floods multiple times in a single year. Other places, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakotas had lacked sufficient snow or winter moisture, which has failed the winter wheat crops. Hay crops were also very poor quality this year, we heard this over and over on our trip out west.
Is everything really Cyclical or is
Nature trying to systematically tell us
to Pay Attention
before it is too Late?