Boy was it a hot week…Night and Day….

All winter we want to be warm and then we get weeks like last week. Whew!

One job site was filled with poison ivy. Yikes! The homeowner, an elderly couple, have a hard time keeping up with some of the garden work plus wanted some new plants, some too-large things removed, etc. So in we went. On the hottest day of the year I was in long sleeves, long pants, high socks, hat and gloves. But better hot and sweaty than covered in rash. My crewman are lucky in that they are not allergic. Cody didn’t even use gloves which gave me the eebeegeebees. But we are pretty used to the heat just the same and a cool shower feels so great at the end of the day.

Language is funny. Back when I was in high school, the word “cool” was used to describe something great, neat, edgy and sassy even. It seems to have been replaced by the word “hot.” A few years back, I worked with Martha, the office manager at the company I worked for at the time and who had a fabulous sense of humor, it sometimes coming out of left-field. A catalog arrived and while I flipped through the pages, I said, “Gee–this grower has  25 different varieties of Liriope!” Some of us grumbled that we have mixed feelings about the plant and voiced them. She said, “Lirope–Hot or Not?” We all thought that was hilarious.

Liriope will certainly take some serious heat. In fact, I have it growing most robustly in a 14″ wide strip that runs between our side entrance walk and neighbor’s driveway. Talk about heat island! No irrigation and reflective heat, too.  However, I tried to transplant some to what I call the “7th Ring” area at the back of the property–the spot that gets the very hottest sun of the day, where very few things want to be, where the hose does not reach. Guess what? I don’t know if the Liriope would have been a good choice for this spot or not because the rabbits ate it all. They do not touch the plants near the side entrance, but they ate every last leaf in the Hell zone.  So…Liriope: Hot or Not? I’m saying lukewarm. Plus, it’s on my garden thug list. It gets to stay near the neighbor drive because even winter salts won’t kill it and no weeds can penetrate the dense and gnarly root system. I need somewhere on the property where something can manage well without me.

Coleus. I think the colors on this annual are even better the hotter it gets and I have loved the painterly colors of those I have this year. Yes, you do need to water them if they’re in a container, but those I have planted directly into the garden beds haven’t needed anything other than what the skies have dropped. I would call them definitely a “Hot.”

Perennial Hibiscus. A big dramatic Hot. But it comes in cool colors. You can see mine in the photo above, the papery, ruffly flowers look great in the summer garden. Each flower does not last long, but the plant as a whole will bloom for several weeks. This does like moist conditions, so be mindful of that in your garden. While my garden is generally pretty dry, and I don’t water much, this spot gets the over-flow from the rain barrel once it’s full and that keeps the area pretty well hydrated.

Ornamental grasses. Before I even get too far in, these are Definitely with a big “D” a Hot with a big H-O-T. They rank on my list up there next to trees for some of the very best plants you can add to your garden for impact, style, grace, seasonality, color, thrive in hot conditions, great habit, easy care–gardening doesn’t get much better than this. I am also glad that many vendors are carrying other choices than Miscanthus (also on my thug list–and on the invasive species list in may areas. Not only is Miscanthus not hot, it’s uncool to plant it.) I adore switch grass, especially a variety called “Heavy Metal” and “Shenandoah.” I love too the seed head on the Karl Foerster grass that is blooming beautifully right now. If you have some shade, Sea Oat grass will take a bit and the seed head looks like a flattened fish filet. Sea Oat grass does not grow very large, either, so it is ideal for a small garden. Both switch grass and Karl Foerster grass keep nice vertical habits, don’t seed all over the garden, and thus make good bedfellows.

Dahlias. I learned from the Kahlo exhibit that the Dahlia is the state flower of Mexico. I adore them and I plant them for their late summer gorgeousness and in honor of my Mexican crewmen who work so very hard. I use Swan Island Dahlia tubers which are vigorously healthy and produce lots of flowers– just rich, I think. And hard to beat them for a cutting flower. They have just started to open, so stay tuned for photos. In the meantime, there are plenty of Dahlia photos from last year on the blog spot. Rating? Absolutely Hot. Note: they need consistent water and deep watering as well as some type of staking or support to stay vertical as the heavy flowers will topple them right over.

Flowering tobacco. Not Hot; it’s a snow white cool white flower that glows at night. It is one of only two white flowers in the garden right now; the other is ground cover alyssum. (I would call the hydrangea pictured creamy, not exactly white.) But I have a love/hate relationship with it. I marvel at the size of the plant and leaves considering the coffee ground-like seed from which they grow. Could I eradicate it from the garden in two seasons? Yes. Would I miss it late summer? Also yes. The good news is that it is very easy to pull out when I need to edit. Tie score on this one.

Lemonade. The sunny bright-hot yellow circle slice in a frosty glass and an “ahhhhh” at the first sip makes the perfect summer cool. Sit back and have some. 

Mellow Yellow...
Buzzers, Bees and Birds