The 2012 gardening year begins strangely. Im a bit horrified to see the tips of my daffodils popping up in February. Huh? I wish the bulbs would resist the warm temperatures, but those impudent daffodils peak in mid-March while were away on spring break. Cant believe we miss out on the seasons first flourish. Annoying.
Miraculously, my tulips have never fared better. Squirrels dont touch them.
Oh dear, heres another ominous sign: My mums try to bloom in March. Not so fast. I deadhead (for months) the rude blooms intent on early arrival.
The first day of June is a Friday. Oh, bust my buttons what glorious mid-60s temps! Due to the lovely weather, I have a sudden impulse to start a new border along our euonymus-draped fence.
Filled with enthusiasm, I work like a mad beaver the next two days, carving chunks of sod out of the lawn. I toss the sod into my compost pile and pour a few bags of mushroom compost into the gashed earth. I happily hand-mix the rich compost into the dense clay soil. Ah, what gardening bliss.
For my new plot I choose bee balm, Rosy Glow sedum, Russian sage, Moonbeam coreopsis, phlox, yarrow, caryopteris, iris, coneflowers and rudbeckia. I also throw in an old Endless Summer hydrangea that needs a new home.
Im thrilled to see that this new plot, unlike my other beds, gets about five hours of sun. Oh, joy. My new, billowing, cottage-style border will be a beaut.
Gosh, this is a hot summer, I think in July, as I haul the garden hose over the established beds in my front and back yards. These endless 100-degree days are taking their toll. My hydrangeas resemble tall wilted weeds. Coneflowers sulk. Phlox go on strike, refuse to bloom much and succumb to mildew.
Bee balm starts strong, then collapses in thirsty defiance. Roses withhold blooms. My delicate astilbe are slaughtered; they are just thin brown stems even though I watered them faithfully. (Eventually they disintegrate and leave no trace.)
The sweltering temps continue. My hostas turn beige: The leaves feel like potato chips, breaking to the touch. My funereal ferns are in a steady death march. Endless Summer hydrangea? Make that Endless Bummer.
My pachysandra is pulverized: Apocalypse Now. Foxgloves flop. Coral bells turn to brown paper. The new hibiscus I bought at Lowes for a song is not such a bargain. Its wilted leaves slowly turn yellow. Maybe it can fight another day in the spring?
My noble new bed is a raggedy mess of mostly wilted and stunted plant specimens. I daresay next year I will offer lodging only to drought-resistant plants.
On the bright side, I shall here award gold medals to my champions: Russian sage, catmint, caryopteris and sedum. They sneered at the drought and rarely ever needed a drink.
My herb winners: parsley and rosemary. Just unstoppable. (But basil, you are a complete wimp and that is why I ripped you out.)
My top all-around champ for July? Rudbeckia. Thank you, good ol brown-eyed Susan for saving my summer garden from utter ruin. Your bright yellow clumps gave me much-needed cheer. Heres hoping the chrysanthemums can be as bright this fall!
Bowen lives in Westwood.