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Real Life Gardening
- Category: Real Life Gardening
- Published on Tuesday, 02 August 2011 23:39
- Written by Pretty World
- Hits: 668
It's hard to believe that it is already August. I'm learning a lot about how to handle a large, maturing perennial garden in oppressive heat. Mostly it is just making stuff up as I go along, and questioning everything.
In my first two years with this garden I had to focus on getting new plants started and tending young plants through their first encounters with competitive weeds, baking hot Summer days, wind and rain storms, less than perfect soil and all kinds of garden fuss. This year almost all of the flowers in the garden are 2 and 3 year old perennials. The weaklings have died off and the strong ones are deeply rooted into the soil. They can hold their own against a few weeds and they don't need me to bring them a drink of water every time the soil gets dry.
I did need to step in this past week and help manage the explosion of weeds that's been trying to take over the garden paths. Those were chopped off at soil level with a weed whacker and if we ever get a break from this heat I'll eventually get around to giving the paths a thorough hoeing to remove the last of the weed remains.
Many of the the perennials are starting to go a bit crispy in the hot and dry conditions. But since these are drought tolerant species, and strong/mature plants, I'm holding off on providing supplemental water or trimming off brown dried flower heads. I keep looking at the wild plants in the hills - and think about how capable those plants are at enduring harsh growing conditions. Could it be that a touch of "The Summer Crispies" is actually an important part of a drought tolerant perennial's life cycle? I don't know, and I'm going to find out.
Letting nature take the lead means that my garden doesn't look exactly like something out of one of the gardening magazines. That's not bothering me, though. There is still a lot of lovely color in the garden - even if a close up look at the flowers shows frayed petals and some crunchy leaves. The current hot and dry spell is encouraging fast ripening of seed heads and that should have them ready to self sow when we get the first of the Autumn rains. If I was supporting the perennial garden with a lot of watering now I think that it's very possible that I could prolong flowering at the expense of seed ripening. That could be nice for appearances but not necessarily good for the long term health and vitality of my plant colonies.
I'm also not deadheading spent flowers. They are being left to produce seed to fill in garden gaps (and suppress weed seedlings). In time the stems will get dry and frayed, seed pods will open and scatter seeds, and the dry remains of this year's flowering season will rake out easily from the fresh fall basal vegetative growth.
So what am I doing out in the garden if I'm not weeding, watering, pruning or fussing with plants? Enjoying scenes like this, of course!
If you look closely at the 30 second mark you can see the tiniest little bee-type thing zoom around the skipper butterfly. I always marvel at how the big garden is so full of small animal worlds - and I think that working with nature's plant growing cycles instead of doing things the garden magazine way will ensure that I have the time to find these amazing little nature scenes right here in my own flower garden.