Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fourth of July Weekend is HOT HOT HOT

Over 90 degrees in the day, 80s at night.  Nice breeze if you’re in the right spot.  Where is that spot?

Millie and Wilbur celebrate Independence Day
Thursday – the 4th

Recently I’ve taken an interest in plantings that may keep the flies and mosquitoes away from me when I dare to sit in my back garden.  Not unusually, I went a smidge overboard.  I used my 4-day Independence Day Weekend to shop and work in the garden.

I’d done some reading and came up with a list of possibilities, none of which would interfere with anything I’ve already planted.  Herbs have amenable companions and irritable companions, and it’s best to plant friendly herbs and vegetables in the same area.

My first shopping trip included a stop at Ace hardware, just because I like hardware stores.  There I picked up, inexpensively, two rectangular plastic containers for planting, and a small bag of potting soil that I figured I’d keep around for when I re-do my organic celery experiment (which went awry, probably because I used what I had when I planted it, which was topsoil).  Also two little caramel rolls, which I only just remembered were in my purse, so I’m eating one!

Next stop:  Garden World, where I picked up Catmint (Nepeta), a large Rosemary plant (Gorizia), and two Lemon Balms.  All of these allegedly repel mosquitoes, and the Rosemary should attract honeybees.  Lovely idea, since it’s going near the zucchini and squash.  Also a large bag of potting soil for whatever I chose to put in pots instead of the ground.

Note – the cats do not differentiate between catmint and catnip but roll in its leaves regardless of suffix.

In the evening I watched a DVD of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  Silliness played straight, with some nice performances.  Just as it started to get dull with an overlong fight, it picked up again, so by and large quite enjoyable.

Friday the 5th

I’d ordered some things online at the Home Depot in Glendale, so used picking those up as an excuse to buy more things at their nursery: Italian Flathead Parsley (this year it'll go in a pot not the ground), Basil (even though I have some, it’s not as if one can have enough pleasant aromas in the garden), Chamomile, English Thyme, a container tomato plant, and a Japanese cucumber that was labeled as good for growing in a container.  Since the cucumber I planted in Spring didn’t work in my soil (for any number of reasons), I’ll try a pot.  Finally, I picked up a Citronella mosquito plant.  It’s not attractive, but I couldn’t find a geranium-citronella hybrid in Garden World or Home Depot.  And once I start, I want to do it all in one weekend, so it’s not as if I’d search elsewhere.

In the evening I watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green.  It’s sweet, unapologetically magical, a relaxing delight.

Citronella -- not pretty.

Saturday the 6th

Didn’t get into the garden until 11 this morning, more fool me.  Over 90˚ again.  Mad dogs and Englishmen….  I used both the big and small bags of potting soil since I used several containers.  The available space in the garden is clogged with the ubiquitous ivy vines, and it’s too hot to dig.  Not to mention, the spots left really don’t get a lot of sun.  Of course, with pots I can move things around, which I’ve done several times already.  I took photos of morning sunlight in the garden, afternoon sunlight, and late afternoon.  The trees block it at various times of day, but I love the trees, so will make do. 

First, I cleaned out leaves and dead plants and detritus, so it just looks nicer.  Being more accustomed to beans than squash, I thought to tie up (stake) zucchini and crookneck squash plants, but online wisdom (checked during a water and air conditioning break) said they are ground spreaders, so I left them, just mulched well under them. 

The Rosemary plant is huge, and since the last one didn’t do well indoors over winter, I planted the new one in the ground between the zucchini crookneck squash with a lemon balm plant nearby.  Although the white impatiens are flourishing in their original containers on these hot sunny days, they generally prefer some shade, so I’ve moved them behind the crookneck and under the hydrangea. 
Rosemary and lemon balm and crookneck.  Container since moved has cuke, thyme, and more lemon balm
The hydrangea is very well but a bit off kilter as it reaches for the sun.  I re-arranged some supports under different parts of it, and cut back some of the evergreen that forced the hydrangea to reach out.  Hoping for a cooler weekend next week so I can do some serious tree pruning, as well as plant the remaining red impatiens around the blue spruce out front (where, on Friday, the management company’s people actually weed-wacked away where needed, hooray).

Presently one of the basil plants is in a hanging pot near the birdbath.  Before winter I must repair the wall over the kitchen window so I can hang the basil inside.  Chamomile likes part shade so it’s in a pot in the shadiest part of the garden, which gets afternoon sun. 

I scrubbed both bird baths, shifted the white plastic one a bit, away from the bird feeder, and put the one I know full well is cracked into the middle of the garden.  It looks nice there but will require frequent filling.  The water should be changed more frequently than in the past to keep the skeeters from delighting in it.  I don’t think the birds liked the new placement of the feeder, so I moved it back closer to where it had been.  When it’s a bit cooler — when??? — I’ll sit and stare for the best spot.  

Finally I knew I had to clean up before I could see the garden in its new configuration, so raked and hauled off garbage.  Too darned hot.

After a delightful cool shower and a little lie down with my feet up — don’t worry, Millie didn’t let me rest for long — I went back outside in the early evening, still full light.   
This had sat by the door as shoe scraper, but that didn't like frequent immersion it received. Now it leads into the garden

The neighbors have company (I knew they would, I heard the leaf blower before I went in to shower), children shrieking with pleasure then whatever else children shriek about.  There’s a bit of a breeze.  There are also mosquitoes and flies.  So far they don’t understand that they should be repelled by all my new plants.  Containers will need to do some shifting about, I think…..

Tomorrow I’ll spend the hottest part of the day at the movies instead of out in the midday sun. I hope your holiday weekend was relaxing, independent, even cool.

~ Molly Matera, signing off to sit out back and stare at my revived garden in the waning light.