There's a fine line between a chronicle and whining. I must have abandoned more posts than I wrote this summer - my writing drought mirroring the weather. Yes, I know I am a mere amateur in the professional world of hot and dry experienced by my southern gardener friends, but this year it has been fierce. The only good thing about the summer was the lack of maintenance the garden needed: the lawn was dormant; the weeds stunted; no need for dead-heading the annuals - those seeds that germinated and became plants, never bloomed. The only exception was the pots that needed to be watered often and for greater periods of time.
Fortunately the winds and weather patterns have shifted over North America - there are cooler temperatures and weekly water in the forecast. I thought it might be a great idea to give you a little taste of the summer and, like a less-than-perfect meal, put it behind me and get on with all the garden maintenance I need to do now that life has returned to the garden.
Rather than my own garden, let's take a look at the happenings at my mother ship, the Royal Botanical Gardens. On August 8th, when the temperature finally dipped below 32C (90F) - Kevin and I headed over to the Cherry Hill Trail. The trail, that is often wet in spots was cracked and dry. Look at these water lilies - normally these pads would be floating on the water. On this day they simply stood naked above the muck. (Several weeks later, they had all collapsed into a black mess.)
Although, I suppose it might have been a little easier fishing for some of the birds.
And there were more places to sun for the turtles.
While it wasn't as obvious that the water was low here....
Take a look at this:
To compare, here's a photograph I took exactly a year ago. Obviously this area dries out somewhat in August, but this is really extreme.
The water features all had to be re-built as well - this was the first time I saw some of the fancy tropical water lilies blooming.
Best of all, every time I visited this summer, the parking lot seemed fuller - just had to capture these folks and their pretty daughters using the hibiscus as temporary hair ornamentation:
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend an event put together by the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and the Royal Botanical Gardens. The OIPC are the folks who put together the terrific Grow Me Instead Guides with Landscape Ontario.
It was an event primarily for landscape professionals/growers to learn more and exchange ideas about invasive plants for the horticulture industry.
The Royal Botanical Garden because of the size of its collection and acres of undeveloped land can be the canary in the coal mine when it comes new invasive species. There are various factors including the change in weather and loss of species (what moves in when the Ash trees leave?). So off we set to the edge of the Magnolia collection to see first-hand a potential new invasive. We were given a presentation and shown thickets of Magnolia kobus establishing themselves both by seed and by underground roots.
Here was a fun discovery, our guide Jon Peter from the RBG showing a native Apios strangling an invasive....
Aren't these cool flowers - great scent too.
After our hike around Cootes Paradise we all sat down for lunch. Can you say lunch-bag-let-down? I suspect they've seen the size of my hips - my lunch: one fork, one straw, one peach (fabulous this year), one bag of apple chips and one granola bar. Dear Anne Marie Van Nest shared her peach with me.
Proof positive it has been the year for plants that like it hot and dry - a parking-lot display garden outside the RBG.
I'll be going outside shortly to start to work on my garden (and hopefully plant some red and white tulips in honour of Canada's 150th birthday!). I will make my notes and take some pictures. I need to see what's done well, and what's been a bust. Nothing better than having my own laboratory right outside my door.
I'll leave you with one last look of a typical summer evening this year in downtown Oakville. I'll keep this photo in mind when the snow begins to fly.