Monday, July 9, 2018

Itchy, Scratchy and Hot

Living in Wisconsin, you have to stay on your toes.  This spring has been a doozy.  Back in mid-April we were digging out from a record snowfall, and a little more than four weeks later, we were sweltering in ninety-degree heat. 

We had a nice break from the scorching sun for a few days after Father's Day, but the upper eighties and low nineties returned with a vengeance along with high humidity.  Ugh, the humidity. 

Even the flowers are sweating (OK, I lied, it's rain)
The garden is confused, along with the gardener.  Daffodil foliage is still lingering and daylilies are already blooming which seems early to me.  Peonies came and went with hardly a day to appreciate their blooms; the sun baked some of the buds and they never did open.

The Martagon lilies did put on a glorious show, though.

 When I was weeding among the martagons they rewarded me with their delicate perfume reminiscent of raspberries.  They have come and gone already, just a memory until next year.

Taking over where the martagon lilies left off, the Asiatic lilies are blooming in abundance now.


The daylilies are starting to bloom too, which helps lift my spirits when the sweat keeps running in my eyes while weeding.

The one thing we could really use (along with cooler temperatures) is some rain.  The high heat has been relentless and our sandy soil is drying out rapidly.  The long established perennials are doing alright for now, but the newly transplanted trees are suffering and I've been running hoses out to keep them all going. 

The annuals are having a hard time establishing themselves this year, despite a heavy mulch and frequent watering, they aren't happy.  Heat stress is hard on everything. 

We're still in the process of weeding and mulching which never ends around here until the snow flies, but this year with the heat and mosquitoes, the work has been brutal.  Though it sounds silly, and possibly unhygienic (just stay upwind of me when you visit)  I wear the same jeans and shirt for a week in the garden.  There's no point in changing clothes every day, in under an hour, the sweat and bug repellent have ruined clean apparel. 

The hardest part about getting dressed in the morning is putting on my filthy garden clothes.  Once I have them on, it's ok, but it's a mental challenge to don them.  And I still wear long sleeves and a hat all season long, too, in an attempt to foil sunburn and the mosquitoes.  

There's two-year-old Audrey and me, feeding the fish in the Quarry.  I often wonder how she recognizes her grandma in her glorious gardening garb.  Elegant, I am not.  Luckily, this was the first day I was wearing my garden clothes, so I didn't reek as bad as normal. 


 The fish appreciate Audrey's visits because she feeds them carefully and with precision.  

 But oh, the mosquitoes! They are oppressive which is really odd since we have had very little rain.  The fish in the quarry pond keep the larvae under control and I use a mosquito bait in my rain barrels, so I'm not raising any on purpose.  I have no idea where they are all hatching from, but everyone says the same thing.  We're all itching.  To avoid the heat, it makes sense to weed in the shade, but the buggers drive you out of the comfort zone almost immediately and back into the hot sun where their numbers are only slightly reduced.  

Carl has been the sensible one about the work around here for a few years now and I'm finally getting on board with his philosophy; we absolutely must downsize.  For the last several years, we've picked areas to eliminate and this year is no exception.  If the weather was always like this, it would really be a snap to say the heck with all of it, we're done, bring me some silk flowers and a pot full of styrofoam.   

Gardening is great exercise, and we both love it, but with all the other work around here with the addition of our parent's properties we have to tend, we can't keep up.  We feel like we're running a marathon which never ends, and that's not much fun.  I've been told gardening is supposed to be stress relief, not stress inducing, and if anything happens to either of us, maintenance will be downright impossible for one person.

Downsizing is not easy, though, because we have to make hard decisions on where the plant material will go.  Trees are hard to move and many of them were costly investments but happily, they have grown and provide much needed shade for hostas.  But some of the beds have to be completely eliminated.  More on that to come........


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Hi Karen ~ Good to see this post from you. Your lilies are all gorgeous! Your heat and humidity sound brutal and drought conditions also. I hope you get some relief soon. Love & hugs for you and Carl ~ FlowerLady

Alison said...

Glad to see you are hanging in there despite the hot weather and the mosquitoes. I have very well-drained soil too and every summer we have to deal with two months (at least, sometimes more) of pretty much no rain. I get so sick of dragging hoses and sprinklers around, I am trying to come up with ways to make it simpler too. Hard to believe Audrey is so big already, wasn't she just a little baby yesterday?

Beth said...

Your garden looks pretty! It's hot here too; on June 30/July 1 our area received 5-10" of rain (varied by location) and there was a lot of flooding. No rain since, and the ground is dry. It dries up pretty quick with the high heat. Mosquitoes are horrible this year.
Our daylilies are in full bloom, and two of mine that usually bloom in August are blooming now. Strange weather/climate with the consequences.
I understand downsizing. Hope you can figure it out. Maybe sell your mom's property (or move your son there) and that would remove some of the work.
Take care my friend!

Beth at PlantPostings said...

Oh, I know! The mosquitoes have been awful! But we've had too much rain--which is weird because we're not really that far from you. This is the first week we've had a break from the rain and I'm starting to have to water the garden! I hear you with the downsizing. My garden isn't that large, but my dream is to seriously downsize the size of the house and look for a property with a garden that's similar to the size we have now. I'd like to do less cleaning and about the same amount of gardening. Your granddaughter is adorable!

Karen said...

Rainey, thank you! I can totally sympathize with you on what gardening in Florida must be like. My hat is off to you! Sending hugs!

Alison, ugh, the hoses, I know. It never ends and I'm constantly flattening some plant or other by trying to get the hose to stretch just a little bit further. No rain again today, and today was our supposed best chance. Oh, well. Yes, Audrey is growing up far too quickly. :-)

Beth, wow, that was a lot of rain! I hope there wasn't too much damage. Isn't it amazing how fast the ground dries up after even a deluge like that? Here's hoping you get some relief from the weather, too.

Beth@PlantPostings, this surely has to go down in the record books as a weird year, doesn't it? I'm glad you've had some dependable rainfall anyway. The way the mosquitoes are acting, you'd think we were farming them, I've never seen so many in a dry spell. I hope you are staying cool, too. :-)

outlawgardener said...

Your parade of lilies are as sweet and pretty as your little garden helper. Can't believe how much Audrey has grown. Sorry about the oppressive heat and mosquitos making gardening more of a chore than a joy. It's nice to hear that you wear the same gardening clothes for a week - I do the same thing.