Cloudy Day

August 03, 2011|By Kathy Hudson

Over the last scorching weekend, my husband and I were just wondering what had happened to those cloudy, drizzly summer days of yesteryear. We could not think of one this summer, or even a few last summer.
Et voila! Wednesday comes. We awoke to clouds and cooler temperatures. Not cool, mind you, but cool-ER. It even drizzled some at mid-morning. At 1 p.m. our thermometer said only 84 degrees. I thought I was dreaming. I went to my computer: 84, the online weather said, too.
I went outside to celebrate the temperature drop and cloud cover by weeding. The previous night’s welcomed rain had loosened the soil; no baking sun had dried it out. In early afternoon the zinnia and vinca leaves for once weren’t curled in the heat. The hydrangeas weren’t drooping.
The hostas, too ancient and too impossible to unearth even with an ax from their newly sunny venue, still looked like someone had toasted their wide leaves. Phlox leaves near flagstone paths, which raise garden temperatures by as much as 10 degrees, were still scorched. Geraniums pedals in the planters were mostly brown. Late-planted zinnia seeds were still not up. Even with daily watering, they must have fried in the soil.
On a cloudy Wednesday, the garden looked better to me than it had in the baking sun. Far from good, but better. The pink surprise lilies, just up this week, are still pink, and not even burned on pedal edges. The rhododendrons, even the one planted last, looked perky. A few white phlox looked fresh, and I wished I had more.
With a 10-degree temperature drop, thoughts of moving plants around surfaced. I could envision the three 'Queen Elizabeth' roses in one bed, the peonies gathered in one long border, and my mother’s Dutch iris dug from their bulging clump and spread across another. 
For one day, I felt a burst of garden energy.  I dare not divide plants now. More scorchers are surely on the way. Instead, I turned to the mundane task of pulling weeds in between the flagstones I’m so tempted to have removed. 

If summer temperatures soar like this every year, the only plants in my garden that will look fresh are our native black-eyed Susans. Any garden redo here should take a native twist.
A long, rainy day might give me time to research native grasses, perennials and evergreen shrubs and see how they’d look in once formal, now straggly and parched, garden beds. 

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