Marty's Garden, Late July 2020

Another hot day in July. We still get rain once in a while but the amounts are small and the temps remain above normal. In other words, it’s a hot and dry summer. This year some of my lilies never bloomed. The buds developed, but then because of the lack of rain (or not watering), they dried up and fell off. The same happened with the Astilbe; flowers formed, but then just dried up. It still looks pretty but I never got that pop of color I was hoping for.


The daylilies on the other hand don’t seem to mind the hot weather and they have been in full bloom for several weeks now. I make my rounds, collecting the shriveling-up flowers each morning and depositing them on the compost heap. Granted, if you leave the flowers alone, they drop off and shrivel up on the ground, littering around the plant or sometimes drying up and sticking to the leaves. And so, I “groom” my plants. Deadheading, or removing spent flowers from a plant, can prolong flowering and who doesn’t like a longer period of bloom? Sometimes you deadhead because it makes the plant look better; who likes looking at dried up flowers? But there are also times you leave the spent flowers, allow the seeds to ripen and watch as birds gobble it up. I groom in spring when hostas under trees get spent blossoms on their leaves, or when the peonies drop their petals on their own foliage. These spent blossoms dry up and leave a brown spot. A quick rub of the leaves removes the browned petals and we are good to go for the remainder of the year. Ok, so I am a neat freak.


However, during this pandemic with few places to go, I find solace in the garden. With plenty of time on my hands, the garden gets that daily workover and beware of any weed which pokes up its head. Unwanted seedlings, out they go. I snip an errant branch here and there. Then I get to the ornamental grasses, grown from seed two winters ago. Stipa tenuissima (aka Mexican feather grass) and Stipa gigantea. The two-year-old grasses have put on some girth and mostly dance on the wind, but a few clumps are bent over and no longer sway with the rest. A look shows the top of these plants have become a tangle of seeds and while I try to comb my fingers through it, I don’t get much of it out. And this is where I take the whole “grooming your plants-thing" to a whole new level. I grab a hairbrush with widely spaced bristles and comb my grass as if it is a teenager’s ponytail full of knots. Handfuls of seeds come out and suddenly my clumps resurrect themselves and move in concert with the rest. All sweaty I go back inside; a job well done deserves a cool drink. Later I sit down with a book in my favorite chair overlooking the pond and my well-groomed garden. It’s one way to spend your days in these trying times!