It is a sultry afternoon and this transplanted Northwood’s girl can’t take the heat. Mid-90’s and humid! I’m melting. This morning before the heat really took hold, I had to make sure the birdbaths were full, all my pots were watered and special plants taken care of.
Mid–summer. The work of planting is done, the flowers have grown, and besides weeding and watering, much of the hard work is done. I admit to using Preen – it prevents seeds from germinating. Well worth the trouble and expense since I don’t particularly care for weeding – heck I really don’t like it. I know it isn’t the most “green” thing to do, but it sure does save time. Some weeding is still necessary, but I prefer my air-conditioned living room!
I broke into a total sweat just trying to water my Nikko Blue Hydrangeas. As their name implies – they like being hydrated. It is such a sad sight to see those lovely mopheads droop – I put the slow soaker on and they managed to perk up. A sick friend received a bouquet of the blue and pink blooms along with some pink astillbe as accents. They are special flowers and should cheer her up – at least offer a nice thing to look at while recovering. Blue and pink are soft and soothing colors…
I picked myself a “Heat of Summer” bouquet. Pink coneflowers, white Shasta daisies, yellow heliopsis and purple phlox. You may wonder how does a shade gardener have these blooms? Well we lost a boulevard tree about 8 – 9 years ago and I have a horseshoe shaped bed at the edge of our lot which gets full sun.
The thinking behind the bed was to create an appealing view instead of having to look at the intersection. It also helped us to claim our rightful lot. You see we have a pie-shaped lot and most of the walkers in our neighborhood cut across the ‘tip of the pie’ on our lawn to get to the other sidewalk. They marched right in front of our living room window! A definite invasion of privacy. I wanted to shout, “You’re talking a walk for exercise – no shortcuts!” But that would not have been as effective as this garden bed.
As the edges of the bed approach the sidewalk, we have very prickly Seafoam juniper shrubs and Carefree Wonder roses (with thorns) – that say very subtly (or not) – stay back on sidewalk. Besides having burning bush shrubs that block the view of the intersection – we planted all the sunny prairie flowers that do not require much care. It has to be a long dry spell before a hose ever reaches out there.
I have a new flower growing in the bed this year. It is the Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), part of the aster family and an Illinois native. Its leaves join together around the central stem to form a cup that can hold water, hence the name. I am told that goldfinches adore the seeds of this plant and drink water from the cups! They have just now started to bloom. This plant makes a statement and needs a lot of space. It currently looms a stately 8’ tall!
And so, while I prefer shade especially in the heat of summer, the sunny horseshoe bed provides us with the colorful prairie plants of our Chicago climate, a wonderful view, and defines the boundaries of our lot!