It’s official, fall is here. The temperatures are still summer-like during the days, but the nights are much cooler. They are also not as high as they were in most of August, which was brutal. This summer we have been very light on rain. After the freak rainfall in mid-July which brought us nearly 5 inches of rain, we only have had a few rain events. Every 8-10 days we would get 0.2 inches of rain; just enough rain to keep the garden going, but not enough to have lush growth. Somewhere around late August we had two days with on and off again rain and suddenly the garden recovered. After that, there was no more rainfall and now, deep into September, it is still dry. The weather forecast for the next 10 days shows continued sunny days, with cooler nights and not a drop of rain in the forecast.
Despite the lack of rain I have carved out a new planting bed in the lawn. The Spouse was surprisingly laid back about losing more lawn and helped with all the mulching. I planted mostly shrubs in this new bed, which is anchored by a Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Skyline’ or thorn less Honey Locust, which is also a native tree here in Pennsylvania. There are three Vitex (Chaste tree) which have beautiful blue flowers for most of summer and well into fall and they attract hordes of bees and butterflies. I also planted more Callicarpa (beauty berry) which has strings of bright purple berries in the fall along its gracefully drooping branches. These native shrubs attract birds gorging themselves on the berries. Since I already have a few Callicarpa in the garden, I found a few seedling Callicarpa around them, which I dug up and put in the new bed. I also added two Chamaecyparis psifera or Lemon Thread False Cypress, which inject a jolt of yellow into the bed. While the plants are still small, within a few years they will fill out nicely and grow into a nice grouping of plants. A few hardy geraniums are dotted around for additional blue but added to that I intend to include both the Kniphofia (red hot poker, albeit mine are yellow) as well as the Banana Cream Daisies which are currently growing in the bed next to the driveway. They will inject more yellow into the bed and these plants will have bulked up enough by next spring for me to divide them and move the divisions to the new bed. But for now I added a few chrysanthemums to the garden, which fill up the empty space and provide plenty of fall color. Of course, I also made another trip to the corner for more stumps and have added a few to the front bed as well.
I now have a yellow garden along the driveway, which I consider Mom’s garden, since yellow was her favorite color. The new bed will be a vision of purple, blue and yellow along the sidewalk while the last bed in the front garden closest to the fence is mostly purple. Eventually the new bed and the bed near the fence will be linked with a rock garden, but I am still in the planning stages for that job.
My rain barrels have come in handy during this dry spell and while I have brought out the hose a few times as well, the garden continues to grow. Not as fast as I would have hoped, but at least most plants have spent enough time in the ground to manage with reduced rain fall while still looking presentable. My two sweet pepper plants have produced half a dozen of peppers by now. If I had watered them frequently, they would have been bigger and produced more, but frankly I preferred to water my ferns over the peppers. Maybe next year rain will be more evenly spread over the months and both my peppers and ferns will be equally happy. Or maybe fall will bring rain and we can eat all the peppers my plants will produce before frost does them in. One can hope.