August 24, 2011

COLORBLENDS and Tulip Voyeurs

Ignore the high temperatures, my dears, and completely immerse yourself in tulips.  Submerge yourself, indulge yourself, intoxicate yourself, hypnotize-mesmerize-saturate-bathe yourself if you must, in tulips.  If the images in the slide show below don't do it, I don't know what will.

Last spring John Scheepers Catalog was my go-to source for wholesale tulip bulbs and the personalized blends I would whip up for mine and others' spring show.  But sometimes in the past, and again this year, I decided to not only blend tulip varieties, but to blend BLENDS ala COLORBLENDS  as well.  If you need inspiration, look at the various tulip palettes and color notes I selected over the seasons.  

If you are inclined to be a tulip voyeur, take a peek at at my order for the spring of 2012.  The amaryllis are for Christmas, of course. Maybe placing your order will distract you from the 108 degree swelter today.

 1001209Glow Motion0.35035.00
 1001413Passing Fancy0.35035.00
 1001411French Blend Rose0.39039.00
 1001408Sultans of Spring0.38038.00
 56019Allium Globemaster6.00030.00
 256023Allium Purple Sensation0.72018.00
 56061Allium Ambassador6.00030.00

August 22, 2011

Tulip Mixes and Ostriches

Stick your heads in the sand with me tomorrow as I try to forget about the heat

and think about spring and placing my tulip order.

Because the images here are about as far a cry from centurion temps as one can get.

Of course, we'll actually have to pull our heads out to place that order...

don your hat and sunscreen.

August 20, 2011

Broken records

I thought long and hard about whether or not to show you these pictures.  But so many of you got the mistaken impression that some of the images I've shown in the last couple of posts were in 'real time', giving you the false  impression that MY landscape and gardens had magically escaped the destruction of this heat and drought.  

Well, my darlings, it has most assuredly NOT dodged any bullets and here are the sad images to prove it.  As I write this on another sweltering afternoon, it is 107 in the potager, mercury rising, with a forecast of similar temperatures ahead.

As I told you yesterday, the yews and most evergreens have been particularly hard hit.  I am losing (most likely) about six fifteen-year-old yews.
The large terracotta here represents one of two topiaried yews I have been tending for over a dozen years.  I finally discarded them...too depressing. 
Lime mound spirea has really suffered, as has ANY south-facing it is the spirea and Boston Ivy climbing the wall. 
This is a five year old 'Wine and Roses" weigela in an unirrigated bed.  I've put a slow drip hose on it and it seems to be making a comeback. 
My biggest heartbreak.  I have cultivated this boxwood in the potager for almost twenty years.  This is an unirrigated area that I have always hand watered.  This year, no amount of water can relieve it of its misery.  Most plantings in the compartments I have already removed.  Simply too hot. 
 A close up.
A dying expanse of mondo grass growing between stepping stones.  It has been there forever.  :( 
I finally pulled out most of the contents of my window boxes.  The dwarf Alberta Spruces simply couldn't take it this year.
Dead twenty-year old azaleas.
 And more.  

Oops!  Forgot to rotate this one.  I am so much more careful with the the pretty images...

 I fear I will lose the whole thing before this heat dome weakens.

Showing you these pictures is an act of love, I assure you.  These images were very hard to take, and even harder to show you. Not to depress you or deflate your already bruised gardening spirits.  But to let you know, that ALL of us are experiencing it here in Oklahoma.

So don't beat yourselves up if things look horrid.  In all likelihood, no amount of water, or shade or shade cloth or mulching or wand-waving would have made any difference.  

But, my dears, the days are getting shorter....and even if the drought continues,
at least we know cooler days lie ahead.

And once again, in a season of broken heat and drought records, we will, like the proverbial broken record

because we are gardeners, and we must

start all over again.

August 18, 2011

Record Heat, Record Drought, and Schadenfreude

You've no doubt noticed I've been hiding lately.  Cowering is more like it.  But not in the garden, where I usually go to escape life's woes.  Oh no.  I've been cowering INSIDE with my best friends, Fan and Air Conditioning, from what the local newspaper describes as

"not only the the hottest July on record in Oklahoma,
but the hottest July anywhere in the contiguous 48 states
since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the National
Climatic Data enter."

Now isn't that special? 

And despite some lucky and semi-miraculous small thunderstorms of late, August isn't shaping up to be much better, nor is the longer term forecast into next year.  As I write this, my weatherman is telling me today is day number 48 of days over 100 degrees this summer.  And boy, are our gardens showing the wear and tear (as is this gardener and probably most of you,  I might add...)

Everything in our landscapes is showing stress.  Certain plants (yews, Japanese maples and lots of cedars come to mind) are particularly affected by these extremes, and won't live to see the fall.  Especially heart-breaking to me are the many sections of my beloved potager boxwood hedge that are brown and crisp and just plain worn out.  I dare not prune out the dead sections, for fear of exposing unseasoned foliage, or forcing tender new growth, unable to tolerate Mother Nature's ill humor.

L'il Sis and I were talking about this blog and so many others that often serve as a break from the unpleasantries and brutalities of our day-to-day lives.  Little respites of lovely tips and tokens and images and ideas and creativity and possibilities and, yes, denial. This, she told me, is what readers want.

Yes, it is.

But we Oklahoma gardeners (of every variety and on every scale) are really heartbroken once again over this brutal Sooner weather, and we deserve to participate in a certain kind of collective grief.....or collective Schadenfreude if we must, to know that we have not been singled out, that we are not necessarily doing anything WRONG, that it is impacting ALL of us  (the novice and experienced horticulturist alike) and that we are not alone in our frustration and sadness over another lost season. 

 We have earned the right to feel demoralized and a little beaten up.

So before we move on, tearing out the dead and tired shrubs and flowers and vegetables...sit with me and let me play therapist and consoler for a moment.

I hereby recognize and acknowledge your pain and your loss and your frustration and your sky-high water and electric bill and your being sick and tired of hauling a rubber hose around.

(Did that help at all?  Just a little?) 

Take comfort in the knowledge that my garden looks as rotten or worse than yours.  (Though as a concession to L'il Sis I will spare you any depressing photos.)

Attempt to at least feign a pioneer spirit for a bit longer.

If you can, so can I.  

We are, after all, in this together.

Please join me on KFOR Channel 4 tomorrow at 4:30 with Linda Cavanaugh.  I'll even try to be perky...