A Hot Spot in the Garden

It’s been just over a year since we experienced a severe heat wave in Tidewater when temperatures topped 106˚ for several days in a row.  I survived only because I could escape to the comfort of the home but the garden suffered greatly. Water wasn’t enough to help in some cases. The worst casualty was a section of a bed of juniper (Juniperus c. ‘Blue Pacific‘) that endured the baking sun from sunrise to sunset.

Since I did not want to subject more junipers to this less than ideal location in the garden, I looked around for something else to fill the hot and dry bare spots. Sedum! Of course! Most sedums love the sun and will tolerate our coastal exposure. There are about 400 different species of sedum out there to choose from but I was attracted to Sedum ‘Gold Mound’ with its bright green needle-like foliage. It’s a low growing spreading sedum that will fill spaces around rocks or garden objects with soft mounds.

Gold Mound grows to about 8-10 inches tall and is relatively pest and disease free. This summer it spread gracefully around rocks, mingled beautifully with tuffs of grasses and has integrated with the surviving juniper creating contrasting shades of green. By the end of the summer, the sedum had snuggled into almost every crevice and was a focal point in this little garden. Garden objects and large rocks brought from other borders around the yard found their way to these bright green mounds, the happiest of whom is Peter who stands tall over the sedum welcoming visitors to the garden.

Peter

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

It’s not the Heat in Virginia….

…it’s the Tidewater humidity that gets you. It can be sweltering and uncomfortable. Tidewater is classified as a subtropical zone which includes parts of Texas, most of Florida, up through Georgia, North Carolina all the way to Washington, DC.  Our winters are basically mild and dry and summers in Virginia are more often hot, humid, muggy, sultry, sticky, damp, rainy, steamy. Groan….. Moan….  Grumble…. Complain….

We are experiencing that high humidity of our dog day summer right now. Receiving 3-1/2″ of rain (joy, joy!) in the last 24 hours (7″ for the month) has turned our world into a sauna. I am venturing out daily to work for short periods in the yard but find myself dashing for the coolness of the porch beneath the big fan or escaping to the house where the air conditioner hums consistently even when set to 80º.

Watching the rain from the porch

Watching the rain from the window

The heat, humidity and recent gully-washer rainfalls have turned our area into a kudzo-like lush landscape. The greens of leaves on trees, shrubs, vines, grass seem to be closing in on roads and pathways. Steam rises over pavement, grass and soil. It’s more tropical than subtropical right now.Flowers in the garden bloom and die too fast and are taking a back seat to green chaotic growth everywhere. Weeds are finding a new foothold. mister gardeners tomatoes are ripening too fast to pick, his potatoes are trapped in the wet ground… too wet to harvest, the corn in the fields has bolted to 7′ tall (8′, says mister gardener). Grass needs to be mowed too often. Frogs, toads, birds and insects form a daily symphony of sounds, noisy sounds, screeches, squawks and bellows that continue day and night.

Corn towers

Delighted ferns... looking a little Jurassic in this humidity!

This is the Tidewater I have always known and loved. I may grumble but I wouldn’t trade one sultry day for life elsewhere.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester