Archive for July, 2012
Faithful readers of this blog may recall that last month I wrote an entry in which I tried to answer some of the questions from search engines that lead people most frequently to my blog. For example, frequent searches still find my blog while seeking information on tomato ‘Indigo Rose’ and how to tend your garden during record drought and heat waves. Lately, a few other topics have been recurring regularly, so I thought I’d directly address some of them for you today.
First, check out the top photo. We finally got some decent rain last weekend (2.5 magnificent inches), and that moisture rekindled enthusiasm among my vegetables. All but one of my squash plants surrendered to the heat and bugs several weeks ago. But one zucchini ‘Spineless Perfection’ continues to survive and produce fruit against all odds. A close examination of the stem shows clear evidence of Squash Vine Borer intrusion, but this plant has outwitted the bugs by taking advantage of the fresh mulch that Wonder Spouse and I applied to all the paths between the veggie beds. This plant flopped itself over one side of its bed and into the path, and everywhere its stem touches the mulch, it sprouted new roots. Eventually, the borers will overcome this defense, but for now, I’m still picking a few zucchinis every week. I will definitely be growing this variety of zucchini again.
When tomatoes receive a lot of moisture in a short time, sometimes the fruits will split, because they try to expand faster than the skins can stretch. I’m happy to report that the 60 seconds of water my tomatoes were getting every third day during the heat wave/drought, combined with the deep mulch in the paths, prevented my tomatoes from exploding from the recent surge in moisture. As you can see from the photo, all varieties are producing well, and the Carmen and Merlot peppers are also cranking bigtime. Yes, I am cooking down tomatoes into sauce for freezing on a regular basis so as not to waste a single red globe of goodness.
Now, on to a couple of questions.
Princess Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
In the last month, several searches have found my site searching for a “tree with heart-shaped leaves and seed pods.” Sometimes the search says “giant heart-shaped leaves,” which is why I’m fairly certain these searchers are wondering about Princess Trees.
This non-native, highly invasive tree plagues 25 eastern states in the US. It was introduced deliberately as an ornamental tree, and some lumber companies are now actually growing plantations of these invaders for their lumber, which the Japanese adore. In the spring just as invasive Chinese Wisteria is finishing its blooming period in my area, these trees produce large upright clusters of purple flowers that resemble wisteria flowers from a distance. I suppose some might call the flowers pretty; I call them trouble.
The problem lies with the papery seeds that lurk within the abundant clusters of seed capsules. Experts have determined that one tree produces 20 MILLION seeds in one year. These light-weight seeds float far on wind and water, invading disturbed areas like roadsides and newly logged land. These trees can grow 15 feet in one year, and after they are established, it takes serious perseverance to eradicate them. It can be done. The link above offers instructions and more information on this aggressive invader.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Some folks want to know what’s eating the petals of these lovely, tough native wildflowers. The short answer is that any number of bugs may be nibbling on your flowers. In my gardens, where this wildflower thrives on my total neglect, petals do get nibbled. But I have so many that you don’t notice unless you get right on top of them. And I’ve never had a case in which all the petals were devoured. I can always find a plant or two worthy of a photograph.
I’ve also seen questions about whether these flowers multiply, and if they do so every year. In my sandy loam garden soil, my coneflowers multiply vegetatively at least a little every year. From the base of the mother plant, new plants sprout from her roots. When these new plants have a few leaves — usually in late fall — I gently separate them from the mother plant and plant them elsewhere. If I don’t get around to doing this, the baby plants usually manage to grow and flower right where they were born.
Because the central “cones” of the flowers are so showy even in the winter landscape, I don’t cut them off when the flowers fade. I also leave them because the seeds of this native are deemed desirable by goldfinches and several other seed-eating birds. I let the birds devour as much as they want. Inevitably, they scatter some seeds on the ground, at least a few of which sprout to become new plants the following spring. Sometimes, an entire seed head is overlooked by the feathered ones. I can always tell when this happens, because I’ll get a zillion tiny coneflower seedlings sprouting in one spot the next spring. I separate them and transplant them to ensure a continuing supply of these beauties.
Recently, someone found my entry on coneflowers while searching on “my purple coneflower grew a white flower.” Yes, it probably did. In fact named cultivars of white-blooming purple coneflower are sold commercially. ‘White Swan’ is a commonly sold cultivar of this species. If you bought what you thought was a purple-blooming plant from a nursery and it produced white flowers, your seller was careless during propagation. Named cultivars of plants are mostly propagated vegetatively, meaning they grow cuttings from a known desirable plant, or remove offsets from mother plants, as I described above.
But if you grew your coneflowers from seeds, it is entirely possible that one or more of them would produce white flowers. White flowers are a recessive color trait in this species, meaning that two purple coneflowers can produce a white coneflower baby if both carry this recessive color gene, much as two brown-eyed people can produce a blue-eyed child, if both parents carry the recessive gene for blue eyes.
In my gardens, white coneflowers pop up regularly in small numbers, because I do allow the seed heads to complete their life cycles where the plants grow. Personally, I think the white coneflowers contrast nicely with their dominantly purple siblings, adding a little variation to the landscape. I took the following photo of my front garden last year. As you can see, a recessive white-blooming flower grows with its more common purple siblings.
If you bought a named purple-blooming cultivar of purple coneflower from a nursery, you have a right to complain, but if you’ve been letting your coneflowers reproduce on their own, consider the white one a happy addition — a blue-eyed child in a brown-eyed family, if you will.
More answers to your searches in future entries.
Happy gardening to all.
If you have not had an opportunity to enjoy the delightful rose-like fragrance of nasturtium flowers, I encourage you to do so as soon as possible. They smell just like old-fashioned roses to my nose — without all the fuss of pruning, thorns, and battling diseases and insects. And the colors are rose-lovely too — as long as you like warmer oranges, reds, and golds.
I continue to adore the two nasturtium varieties I grew from seeds from Renee’s Garden. As I explained in my last entry, this seed company offered me the chance to try out a few seeds as a benefit of my membership in the Garden Writers Association. I will gladly use my own money to grow these nasturtiums again.
The gorgeous, fragrant climbing nasturtium above is Spitfire. I interplanted it with my Fortex pole beans, and they climbed their way to the top of the trellis almost as quickly as the beans. As I had hoped, they offer pops of color to what would otherwise be a monotonous wall of green beans. The nectar that delights my nose with its perfume must also be very tasty, because the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds defend this trellis as enthusiastically as the feeder near my front door. I am routinely scolded for intruding when I harvest beans in the morning.
Spitfire has continued to bloom nonstop despite our record string of 100+-degree days and moderate drought. Of course, they have benefitted from the bit of extra water I’ve been giving the pole beans, since they grow intermingled with them. When temperatures exceeded 100 degrees for two weeks, some of the tender leaves of Spitfire were damaged, but because the vines continue to produce new growth, the setback was temporary.
I am equally enthusiastic about the mounding nasturtium variety I acquired from Renee’s Garden. ‘Cup of Sun’ has produced a gorgeous mix of deeply fragrant flowers in sunny shades of gold tinged with varying amounts of orange, as you can see from the close-up at the top of my last blog entry. Before the heat wave, their mounds of constantly blooming flowers floating above the leaves were quite eye-catching. Because I was unable to spare much well water for them, they suffered during the heat wave and persistent drought, but the recent slight moderation in temperature and the addition of a bit of rain has them rapidly on the mend. Here’s what they looked like in June before the heat heat:
As gourmet salad lovers know, the flowers make beautiful, peppery additions to salads, but I confess we haven’t taken advantage of this fact. They are just too pretty to eat. I direct-sowed the Spitfires, which germinated a day or two behind the beans. I sowed Cup of Sun seeds in my greenhouse and transplanted the happy plants after I got the veggies settled in.
I’ve also enjoyed the two varieties of Cosmos that I tried. A speciality mix of several colors and forms called ‘Dancing Petticoats’ is still producing abundant flowers in shades of magenta, pink, and white. The plants surrounding a shallow tray of water in my garden have been healthier than the ones growing in another bed, because they receive more water. By dead-heading spent blooms, I have been rewarded with a constant parade of new, large, colorful Cosmos beauties. The down side to larger Cosmos for me is always their floppiness. I started with sturdy transplants grown from seed in my greenhouse, but as soon as they settled in their beds, they shot up stems too spindly to support their weight without staking. As they’ve grown, I’ve just let them flop and drape as they please, as you can see here:
The flowers attract a constant parade of bumblebees and solitary bees. When we finally got a prolonged, heavy rain last weekend (hallelujah!), the Cosmos plants became quite bedraggled, as you can see here:
After they dried a bit, the stems were able to lift the flowers off the ground again — mostly. The flowers of this variety look great for several days, which makes them useful for short-term flower arrangements indoors.
I also grew Cosmos ‘Little Ladybirds’ — a mix of warm orange, yellow, and gold flowers growing on sturdy plants that topped out at about 1.5 feet. They are spectacularly floriferous, as you can see here:
As much as I like this variety, I feel obliged to warn you that the flowers are prone to petal shatter — a condition characterized by the rapid dropping of petals not long after the flowers fully open. I haven’t seen quite such a severe case before. The petals of Little Ladybirds start falling less than 6-8 hours after the flowers open. I have ensured a constant parade of color by meticulously dead-heading the spent flowers every single day. Because they are growing in my vegetable garden, I’m there anyway to harvest veggies, and my patch of these flowers is not large. But if you are unwilling to do this, your plants will likely not be as persistently floriferous as mine have been. Even though the plants are much shorter than ‘Dancing Petticoats,’ the rain beat them down severely too, as you can see here:
The Renee’s Garden catalog describes Little Ladybirds flowers as excellent butterfly attractors. This has not been the case for me. However, the bumblebees and solitary bees work these flowers from dawn to dusk.
The last annual I tried from Renee’s Garden was also marketed as a butterfly magnet, and because I’ve grown this variety before, I knew that Monarch butterflies and swallowtails would be frequent visitors. Torch Tithonia, also called Mexican Sunflower, produces large, bushy plants with velvety leaves and large, bright orange flowers that persist for most of a week in my garden, despite the heat and drought. I love them as cut flowers for that reason, although I hate to deprive the butterflies of one of their favorite flowers.
Finally, a quick word about the one perennial variety I tried: Rudbeckia ‘Cappuccino.’ I love Rudbeckias. They persist well in my landscape despite total neglect, they multiply without any help from me, they flourish in hot, dry sunny spots after they are established, pollinators from butterflies to every species of local bee visit them constantly, and goldfinches consider their seeds haute cuisine.
So when I read the description in the Renee’s Garden catalog for Cappuccino, I knew I had to try it. I sowed the seeds early in my greenhouse, where germination was a tad low — maybe 60%. I ended up with about a dozen plants to trial in my garden. I transplanted these later than I would have liked. It took me a while to make room for them, and veggies are always top priority during spring planting season. After that, they were barely watered, never mulched, and subjected to record heat and moderate drought.
Despite all that abuse, one plant managed to produce two flowers. Although these flowers were not perfect (they were chewed on by something), I’ve seen enough to persuade me that these will be lovely additions in future growing seasons. I expect them to be as persistent as other Rudbeckias I grow, so I’m looking forward to the rich, warm shades of their flowers contrasting with the standard solid golds of my current forms. Here are the two flowers that showed me the potential of this variety:
As you can see from the photo, the bees have already approved this new addition to my garden.
Of the varieties I’ve described in this entry, I will definitely grow the nasturtiums, tithonia, and rudbeckia in future gardens. I will always grow a cosmos variety or two, because I love the forms and colors of these flowers. But I may try different varieties in the hopes of finding one with stronger stems and shatter-resistant petals.
I also acquired Moonflower seeds from Renee’s Garden. When this annual vine begins blooming, I’ll show you why I always enjoy this old-timey flower in my garden.
As a member of the Garden Writers Association, various purveyors of garden-related products sometimes offer me samples of their products in the hopes that I will write about them. Last winter when the folks at Renee’s Garden offered me a number of free seed packets, I couldn’t resist.
I had already ordered my vegetable seeds, and my few experiences with an occasional veggie packet from this firm had not been ideal. I assumed that because Renee’s Garden is based out of California, their veggie seeds were probably not ideally adapted to the heat and humidity of Piedmont summers.
I don’t usually buy many annual flower seeds for budgetary reasons, but since these were free, I settled on 10 flower varieties from Renee’s Garden to trial in my garden. This company offers many heirloom seeds, so I thought I’d try some of those, and some that the catalog promised would attract butterflies. I’ll write a second blog entry soon to document the flowers I don’t describe here.
I planted nine annual flower varieties:
- Fragrant Moonflower — a vine that produces fragrant white morning-glory-type flowers that bloom at night.
- ‘Chocolate Cherry’ — an ornamental sunflower with “rich chocolate-burgundy ray petals that surround dark chocolate center disks”.
- ‘Sun Samba’ — a colorful mix of sunflowers ideal for creating beautiful bouquets.
- ‘Cup of Sun’ — a mounding nasturtium producing sunshine-colored flowers.
- ‘Spitfire’ — a climbing nasturtium with orange-red flowers attractive to hummingbirds.
- ‘Persian Carpet’ — a border zinnia mix of warm colors purported to attract butterflies.
- ‘Torch’ — a tithonia variety purported to draw butterflies, especially Monarchs.
- ‘Dancing Petticoats’ — a speciality mix of cosmos in shades of white, pink, and magenta.
- ‘Little Ladybirds’ — a smaller cosmos mix of sunshine colors purported to attract butterflies.
I also couldn’t resist one perennial offering: ‘Capuccino’ Rudbeckia — a Fleuroselect award winner in Europe that produces bicolor flowers in rich shades of red and yellow that is heat- and drought-tolerant and attractive to butterflies.
I direct-sowed the sunflowers and the moonflowers in my garden. The moonflowers got a late start, because it took me some time to prepare a place for them near a fence. They germinated well and are growing vigorously. I’ll update you on them with pictures when they bloom.
The sunflowers germinated with great enthusiasm. Despite record heat and prolonged moderate drought, they continue to produce abundant flowers that the local bees can’t get enough of. The seed packets for these flowers suggest they make great bouquets, but I think I’d have a bee riot on my hands if I tried to cut them to bring inside.
Here’s a shot of a Chocolate Cherry Sunflower when they first started blooming:
Note the lovely dark leaf veins that contrast beautifully with the green leaves. As the season has progressed, the petals are looking more cherry than chocolate. Here’s a shot of one I took this morning:
The ‘Sun Samba’ mix has been blooming for almost two months now. Some are just blooming for the first time this week, mostly because they decided to pretend they were trees, devoting much time to shooting skyward. The seed packet for this variety says they’ll reach 5-7 feet, and that has mostly been true, but at least two of them are approaching ten feet. As proof, I offer you this photo taken today. Wonder Spouse is standing right next to the base of this sunflower.
The Sun Sambas display quite a lovely range of colors. Here’s a sample:
And to give you a bit of context, here’s a shot of most of the double row of Sun Sambas. Note the giants towering among the mix.
The seed packet for zinnia ‘Persian Carpet’ says this mix attracts butterflies. Butterflies visit my garden often, but I’ve never seen one on these zinnias. The bees, on the other hand, seem to like these bright flowers very much. The packet claims these flowers mature to a height of 1-1.5 feet; however, my zinnias are leggy and about three feet tall. I had to stake them to prevent them from flopping over.
The flowers of Persian Carpet zinnias remind me of marigolds; they are in the same range of colors. However, the zinnias don’t have the marigolds’ spicy fragrance. The big win with this variety is how long individual flowers last — weeks! Seriously, they stay lovely for weeks. I’ve never seen a flower last so long. And they are very pretty. See what I mean:
My flowers don’t vary as much in color or pattern as the image on the seed packet. I’m not sure I’d grow these again, given their awkward growth pattern and unpopularity with my butterflies. But they have laughed at the heat and drought, and that’s no small feat in my garden.
This concludes Part 1 of my review. I’ll tell you all about the nasturtiums, cosmos varieties, tithonia, and rudbeckia soon.
Due to the frequent searches on Tomato ‘Indigo Rose’ that find my blog, I offered you a preliminary assessment of this new variety in an entry a few weeks ago, which you can read here. To recap briefly, I noted that seed germination rates for this variety were significantly lower than for other varieties, and that the vines — although seemingly healthy — were not as vigorous as those of other varieties I grow.
The big remaining questions on this variety were:
- How do I know when the fruits are ripe?
- What does the ripe fruit taste like?
Indigo Rose fruits do not ripen to a deep tomato red. I would describe the ripe color as orange-red. Some of them reminded me of the color of ripe persimmons. In the photo above, you can see how the fruit progresses from green with bluish shoulders (top fruits) to a yellow-orange (lowest fully visible fruit) to a deeper orange-red (middle two fruits), all with bluish shoulders.
Here’s another shot of ripe fruits on one of my other plants, so you can see the minor variations:
That small hole in the top biggest fruit was made by a thirsty bird. My region of the North Carolina Piedmont remains in moderate drought, so juicy fruits are becoming irresistible to thirsty wildlife. The birds don’t eat the fruits; they just poke holes — very annoying.
Before I tell you about their flavor, let me show you what they look like when you slice them open. I cut open several ripe fruits and laid them out on a bench so I could photograph them in sunlight.
Note the white pith visible in the central rib area. It extends from the stem point into the fruit. Also note the juice that dribbled out and is darkening the wood beneath them. Here’s another shot that shows the pith more clearly:
In this second photo, you can see how the skin peeled back on the left side of the middle fruit. The skin is very thin. The purple pigment is confined to the skin, so if you want the antioxidant benefits of the pigment that turns them purple, eat the skins. I confess that I had expected the pigment to extend further into the fruit.
Every Indigo Rose fruit that I have cut open looks like these examples. They are pithy and very watery. Most important, they have no discernible tomato flavor. None. At all.
Those of us who grow tomatoes in our home gardens do so for that vine-ripened zing of tomato goodness that comes with a freshly harvested fruit. The five other varieties I’m growing this year are all delivering the tomato pizzazz I’ve come to expect from them.
But the Indigo Rose fruits are so watery and flavorless that we are not eating them, and I refuse to share them with any of my tomato-loving friends for fear that my reputation for providing superior veggie gifts will be forever tainted.
As an experiment, I left one piece of tomato on the bench so that I could observe how wildlife responded to it. Birds and squirrels routinely scour those benches for tidbits, so I was sure someone would try it. No takers. Finally, on the second day it was out there, a few ants were giving it a look. They abandoned the fruit about three hours after they found it.
I’ll admit that growing conditions have not been optimal. During the 9-day stretch of rainless 100+-degree days my garden recently endured, the sun actually damaged the Sweet Treats cherry tomatoes that ripened during that time. They looked as if they’d been boiled from the inside. At first I thought it was some kind of disease, but when the heat backed off, their fruits began ripening normally again.
All of the tomato vines are exhibiting signs of heat and drought stress, and the usual fungal diseases are slowly eating their way up the stems. But this has become normal for my garden in the last decade or so. Despite these challenging conditions, all other tomato varieties are continuing to produce delicious, perfect fruits. In fact, I’m in tomato overload mode at the moment, much to the delight of my friends who share in the bounty. All three pepper varieties are also productive and delicious. I’ll tell you about them another time.
Because all the other varieties are behaving — and tasting — as expected, I’m pretty sure the watery, pithy, tasteless fruits I’m getting off the Indigo Rose vines are intrinsic to the variety. Maybe these tomatoes were never meant to be grown in the southeastern US. If so, seed catalogs should state that clearly. Nothing in the description I read gave any indication that this variety would not perform well in my region.
Bottom line: Despite healthy, if slow-growing, vines and abundant fruit production, Indigo Rose gets an F in my garden.
I am annoyed that I let a picture of an unusual fruit con me into wasting my time on such watery, tasteless tomatoes. Garden space is precious and my well water is almost gone. I will not be gambling on another new variety unless it is backed by more than a pretty picture and a snappy description in a seed catalog.
A day or so ago, someone found my blog by searching on this question: “Does honeysuckle make beans?” I knew at once that someone had mistaken a Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) vine that had produced seed pods with our native Coral Honeysuckle. These pods are long and quite bean-like to a casual observer. Because the bright orange-red flowers are tubular — similar to the shape of our native Coral Honeysuckle — I’m not surprised that someone mistakenly assumed that it was a honeysuckle vine with “beans.”
A closer look at this high-climbing (up to 35 feet) native vine reveals its many differences from Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). First, Trumpet Creeper flowers are considerably larger than those of our native honeysuckle, and they usually are a bit more of an orange-red. Next, the leaves are completely different. Trumpet Creeper leaves are pinnately compound and much larger than honeysuckle leaves.
The vines themselves are different too. Honeysuckle vines wrap themselves around objects they climb. Trumpet Creepers produce aerial rootlets — similar to those of non-native English Ivy — which attach themselves to trees, buildings, telephone poles — whatever is handy. And, like the rootlets of English Ivy, Trumpet Creeper aerial rootlets can damage mortar between bricks, so don’t let it climb on any structure you want to last.
The fruits of these two native vines are completely different. Coral Honeysuckle produces little red berries, which are enjoyed by wildlife. Trumpet Creeper fruits are, botanically speaking, capsules, but anyone looking at them would call them long beans. The pods turn brown when they are ripe and split in half to release papery seeds. In late summer and fall, I find their emptied pod halves all over my floodplain.
As far as I know, no wildlife eats the pods, and deer don’t much like to graze on the leaves, although the leaves are food for the caterpillars of the Trumpet Vine Sphinx Moth. But those big trumpet-shaped flowers are irresistible to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which is reason enough for me to leave these fairly aggressive natives alone in my landscape where I can.
You must watch this native vine. It pops up from underground roots all over the place in softer soils, and it can shoot up a telephone pole or the side of a house phenomenally fast. Drought doesn’t much slow it down. Rain sends it soaring. If it sprouts in your lawn where you don’t want it, mowing will control it.
On my five acres of Piedmont, I allow Trumpet Vine to flourish uncontested on our floodplain. A number of vines have scaled the mature pines there, where they often successfully outcompete poison ivy. From June through August, orange-red trumpets dangle from the treetops, much to the delight of chittering hummingbirds zooming from flower to flower.
Trumpet Creeper is native to the southeastern United States, but it has managed to spread itself up and down the East Coast and well into the middle of the country too. It has a couple of other common names, including Trumpet Vine and Cow-Itch Vine. That last name likely arose because some folks get an itchy rash when they touch the leaves and vines of this native. I always wear gloves when I handle it; I don’t want to find out the hard way whether or not my skin reacts to it.
Here’s a link that offers you photos of the pods and the various flower color variations you can find in the wild. Horticulturalists have developed quite a number of varieties of this vine that offer you some color choices. For example, ‘Minnesota Red’ is a nice, deep red. ‘Flava’ and ‘Judy’ both sport yellow flowers, and ‘Madame Galen’ offers deep orange-apricot flowers. All of the cultivars share the native version’s vigor, so site this vine carefully if you decide to add it to your landscape. And whatever you do, don’t feed it! It doesn’t need the help, trust me.
Despite its somewhat aggressive tendencies, I think any Piedmont landscape is improved by having a few Trumpet Creepers growing up sturdy trees in out-of-the way spots. If you’ve got such a locale, consider giving this native vine a try. The hummingbirds will thank you.
When the alarm woke me this morning, I was dreaming of snow. Not the fluffy cotton candy variety. This was moisture-laden snow; the kind that weighs down branches to the ground, that makes killer snowballs and giant snow people.
It was glowing across the landscape in the light of a full moon, reflecting that orb’s light so brightly that night navigation sans flashlight would have been no problem. I remember my dream self saying, “When the sun rises, this will melt quickly, seeping down to thirsty roots, replenishing the water table. Then I woke up.
The unrelenting heat and drought has me feeling like this poor bedraggled Eastern Tiger Swallowtail:
Despite its shredded wings, this beauty was flitting between lantana clusters, drinking deeply in the noon-day sun today. I am trying to be inspired by its determination.
In fact, many of the plants in my yard and gardens continue to bloom despite the near total absence of soil moisture and a searing sun that fades flowers mere hours after opening. Look how wonderful the Chinese Pearl-Bloom Tree (Poliothyrsis sinensis) looks despite our hellish weather:
A less tattered Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is managing to find nectar inside this tree’s tiny flowers:
Coneflowers were made for this heat. I so admire their stamina:
And my well-mulched, barely watered ornamental sunflower mix, ‘Sun Samba,’ continues to wow me with every new bloom that opens. Check out this one:
Although it’s true that our temperatures have backed off from the 105-degree range to the upper 90s, the stagnant, humid air mass (code orange air quality) and snubs by nearby rain clouds mean my yard is suffering bigtime. I confess it’s beginning to drag me down a bit.
This kind of weather always challenges my spirits. It’s hard for me to watch the plants and animals in my yard suffer as they seek water, food, and shade. Some years back — at least a decade ago — I wrote a poem about how this kind of weather affects me. I thought I’d share it with all of my readers who are also suffering through the current heat wave.
The summer swelters are here.
Days that make me want to burrow
deep into the earth, praying hard
for the wet blessing of a rain drop.
Trees droop their shoulders,
leaves limp as fingers dangling
but the dragonflies gliding
through the thick warm soup
that once was air.
Hard to breathe.
Hard to care.
Caught in the doldrums,
I take baby breaths,
and dream of the quiet chatter of sleet
as it hits a tin roof.