I have to admit, I get very discouraged about my garden at this time of year. Shade gardens are at their best in late winter and spring. After mid-June, they quickly go downhill. Even though I try to extend the bloom-season into summer with hydrangeas and other flowering plants, the amount of water required by the many towering hardwood trees, plus the deep shade they create, put tremendous stress on the garden below. Add a huge construction project, like our new porch, and you really end up with a mess.
Currently, the back garden is a mud slick. The dead sod will not be replaced until I’ve sorted out the new garden plan (or perhaps won’t be, ever). To make matters worse, four hydrangeas were lost to voles in recent months, and I haven’t yet called Tommy (who installed the patio) to work on our next action plan.
Things look better from the river terraces, where Tim spent three hours yesterday whacking back weeds. The native hickory trees (Carya), Carolina silverbell (Halesia Carolina), and sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) have all turned a vivid yellow. Sadly, the three native dogwoods (Cornus florida) which I planted along the river, and which would now be a lovely burgundy, were destroyed by beavers last winter.
In the front garden, a massive red oak (Quercus rubra) gave up the ghost in August and was taken down when I got home from my last tour in September. The weeping Japanese maple that grew at its base was moved, but the nearby Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume) was too large to transplant or protect from falling debris and lost more than half of its canopy. But last week, the first flowers of the winter-blooming iris (I. unguicularis) began to bloom, adding a bit of cheer to the desolate spot.
Less than a month later we removed a second mammoth tree. This one, located to the side of the house near the driveway, had a double trunk which began to split in the hurricane that dumped 7 inches of rain in the Upstate (and twice as much in the Midlands, causing catastrophic floods). Neither of these tree losses, though, damaged the garden as much as they hurt the pocketbook.
Near the front of the house, the full-moon Japanese maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’) is turning orange and red, adding a much appreciated touch of autumn glory to the garden.
Best of all, I made time to update the porch pots on the front stoop this weekend. You might get a kick out of these before and after photos.
Linking to Helen at The Patient Gardener.