Warm, finally warm ...

Notes from the Garden by Madeleine Wilde

But of course it is already TOO HOT.
As I write this, our local weather guru, Cliff Mass, has declared that this mid-week we will need fans and humor and patience because of the wilting, oppressive heat.
I wonder how our plants will respond to this dramatic shift in temperature?
Despite the recent on-going rains, the soil has become dry underneath our evergreen and deciduous trees. I love to look at where the pavements are wet - and then the dry stretches where the raindrops have not penetrated because of the overhead trees and shrubs. The only "things" reveling in these recent rainy days have been the slugs - ooooooozing into the puddles after chewing on our hostas and other yummy plants.
I recommend watering very early in the morning. The light is up by 5:30 - and the stillness of the air, filled with bird chatter, is magical. Leave notes in the kitchen for the rest of the family when they discover that you are not at your usual station organizing the food and activities for the day ahead. Invite them out to the garden to see the charm of these early light-filled hours. They might even be able to help with the irrigation chores? At this point, please try not to laugh out loud while you continue to read this dreamer's column!
Aside from nurturing your summer garden, the temptation to indulge in non-stop garden touring becomes urgent. The chance to get inside some of these famous NW gardens seems irresistible. However, I must insist that all you see must be taken with a big grain of salt.
Recently I saw a beautiful large garden with good design details, some wonderful plants, and, most importantly for me, a significant dedication to planting trees. Quite a remarkable place and certainly one to linger in while studying all the details. Even more remarkable was the stated fact, by the owner, that she did all the work herself, except for bi-weekly lawn mowing and edging. Incredible!
Late in the tour I spoke with her about the recent touring in England she had undertaken to look at gardens. I was more than envious and curious since the volcano destroyed my trip to England this year. However, the most important piece of news that I got from her in this conversation was this tidbit. She had returned home, full of trepidation about all these people coming to visit her garden in June. She told me that she had hired "a team of people for two days to help her prepare the garden for the visit."
As I gently seethed over the deception, I did not have the nerve to ask her how many people were in this 'team' she had hired. However, I glanced around her garden again and felt renewed that no way in hell could she have run that garden, except for the mowing brigade, all by herself.
That is the downside of wandering through people's gardens on the tour days. Their gardens have been specially spruced up for that day, and the sweet realities of making a garden have been hidden or disguised or otherwise manipulated in a way that does not speak true to either the garden design or the plants or the dedicated and inspired hard-working gardener(s).
On a much brighter side, garden touring can inspire and educate. You might see combinations of plants that had never occurred to you. You might see some plants that you have managed to kill over the years, that are thriving - and usually the gardener is close at hand to answer all your questions. And, a day spent touring brings you home with new eyes to your garden and all of its pleasures and sorrows. After a good tour or a day spent hiking (or rather slow walking for me while I ruminate) in our NW cathedral-like forests, I always feel a renewed interest in continuing to nurture and celebrate my gardening efforts.
In her book, "A Backward Glance" (1934), Edith Wharton, writing about a day trip with Henry James to the romantic ruins of Bodiam Castle, quoted the master: "Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."[[In-content Ad]]