POTS AND BOXES
Leaving for a vacation in the summer is a mixed blessing for the gardener; especially after a 3 week drought and temperatures soaring into the 90's and high 80's for the last week. The primary concern is who will take care of the garden. For the last several years, Lily, teen-aged family friend has done the job admirably. It doesn't hurt that her mother, Joan, is an experienced gardener with an artist's eye. Lily and Joan came over this afternoon to hear the instructions.
I have been spot watering through the drought but have decided to have Lily also water with sprinklers. My garden has two levels that Lily will be watering. She will alternately spot water and sprinkler each level daily. I had the good fortune to visit Loomis Creek, a specialty nursery in Claverack , NY and acquired some plants that I am hoping will mature in time for the late summer show in the upper border. That means they will need special attention while they are settling in. Then there are the water hogs. I usually spot water these plants when I water the pots and the window boxes. Ligularia dentata 'Britt-Marie Crawford' with it huge black-purple leaves, Kirengeshoma palamata, and Cimicifua simplex 'Brunette' pout and go on to scorch during hot and dry periods. The respond well with about 15-20 seconds of spot watering during stressful periods.
Prior to leaving for a week of vacation in early July is the perfect time to cut back the foliage of geraniums, nepetas and lady's mantle to get a new flush of fresh foliage for the last half of the gardening season. Otherwise the foliage will look pretty ratty by September. I also like to cut Spirea 'Gold Mound' back in half in early July. I am not a fan of the pink flowers but the chartreuse foliage works well in my upper border. The foliage comes back a nice bright green, the perfect contrast to the bright colors in the neighboring perennials and annuals. Unfortunately, there will be a gap in the garden for a week or 10 days. I try to plan this gardener's tough love right before leaving for vacation. When I return from vacation the garden will be blowsy, lush and the annuals will be beginning to strut their stuff.