Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Garden Update: It's raining. Again.

 Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, just shaking my head with wonder and disbelief! It's August and we've had more rain than I can remember ever having during a Middle Tennessee summer. The Joe-Pye weed, Cup plant and Susans are thrilled. So is the moisture loving Cardinal flower and the new Hibiscus coccineus (planted last year). Even the plants that are in deepest shade under the Oak and Hickory canopy are thriving.

I've nothing to complain about, last year in the midst of the drought the entire garden needed extra watering to survive. By August the drought and the extreme heat brought the summer garden season to an early end. It went out with a whimper (or was that me) of crispness.

This year the moisture loving plants like the Joes are in their element, but, I've lost Asclepias tuberosa and Echinacea pallida, both plants that have been in my garden for years. They're tap rooted plants that need well draining soil and they rotted from the clay that has been sopping wet all summer. Consequently, I've been doing the Central Basin what should I plant dance since I pulled them out of the garden.

Traditionally,  this is a dance that one does while standing in the middle of the nursery aisles surrounded by plants in full bloom and enticingly beautiful. You take two steps forward and one step back while singing, "Will these xeric plants survive this winter or will I have to water the moisture lovers all summer?" This summer, I had to add another verse to the song, "Baby, we never know what next summer will bring, let's be smart about it..." Cha-cha-cha!
I'm a fairly smart Central Basin gardener and generally stick to tried and true natives and native friendly exotics, but, that doesn't mean I don't fall for a plant that needs more coddling than my rough and tumble wildflowers usually require.
H coccineus, a marsh loving plant that I hope can survive our usually dry summer
Take the Scarlet rosemallow that was added last fall. It's a marsh resident in most of the Southeastern states (not a Tennessee native) that has thrived with our steady winter, spring and summer rains. I'm crossing my fingers that it gets well established and continues to be happy at Clay and Limestone. That rose flower has me smitten! Isn't is wonderful!

Usually, by this time of the summer my energy is spent and I am lounging around inside trying to keep cool and away from the skeeters. This year, the weather has not only been wetter, it's been cooler. We've had fewer than 5 days with temperatures above 90F. Gardening has been a treat and even the mosquitoes haven't been able to keep most of us out of the garden.

I know, it's amazing!

So when I say it's raining again, please know that I really am appreciative of this amazing gift after years of drought and plant loss.

PS   To read more about our feature flower, the Joe-Pye weed ~Wildflower Wednesday: The Joes
       To read more about Rough and Tumble wildflowers~ Rough and Tumble Wildflowers
       To read more about gardening in the Central Basin~The Central Basin
       To read more about planting in Middle Tennessee~Not The Climate For Xeric
       To read more about why I plant natives~Plant More Natives

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. It certainly has been a different kind of summer, dear Gail, and the garden rejoices, along with the gardener. Knowing what to plant has become a more complicated dance, cha cha cha and a dip!

  2. It has been an odd summer here weather-wise this year too. While we had an overly wet June, July was almost normal. Now we are into our usual dry spell for August. The nice thing about it is that it has been unusually cool. Not Cool but cooler than normal. More like June temps. I love it. I don't mind getting out to water etc. Just can't pull weeds when the ground is so hard. It is amazing how fast the ground dries out from all that rain. That red hibisucs sure is pretty.

  3. Gardening is such a mystery isn't it? I hope you find some good partners for your dance and they decide to stick around.

  4. Just when you think you have it figured out Mother Nature throws in something new just to challenge us.

  5. Everyone's talking about the weather, but you have gone one better, and given us beautiful flowers to talk about, too!
    Lovely photos!
    Have a happy day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  6. Since I'm in your neighborhood, I know just how wet and relatively cool it has been. Torrential rain for a couple of hours here yesterday (although that was really the first good downpour we've had for weeks -- many of the other hit-and-miss storms gave a miss in recent weeks. More rain (and thunder and lightning) overnight with chance of rain forecast every day I think for the next 7 days.

    The only plants I think I've lost are two Salvias that I planted last fall. (And maybe they're only mostly dead?)

    Your Hibiscus is beautiful and I'm jealous that your Joe-Pye Weed is attracting butterflies since they seem to be ignoring the one I planted this spring. (Maybe it's because I've only got a single Joe-Pye and you seem to have a whole patch?) :)

  7. It *is* amazing!!! I'm so happy I could dance a cha cha cha with you my dear. We got rain again last night. I think I've only watered a few times this summer. I don't know what to think.~~Dee

  8. I hope you find good replacements for your plants that rotted in the wet clay. Given our climate here in the PNW, I am pretty much resigned to knowing I'm always going to have to water for at least two months in the summer. Then again, we don't get that hot, and we don't get clouds and clouds of pesky skeeters, so it's not too much of a hardship hauling the sprinkler around. I'm jealous of your Hibiscus. We don't get enough heat here for hardy Hibiscus to thrive. I wish someone would come up with a Rose of Sharon (which do well here), but with the enormous flowers of a hardy Hibiscus.

  9. One week you're on top of the So You Think You Can Pick the Perfect Plant Dance Show - the next week, the judges panel is looking at you oddly giving all their kudos to the weather choreographer. The new mallow is lovely. It's really a giant when happy isn't it? Saw a whopper in Philadelphia of all places. I'm thinking that if it can get its roots nice and deep, maybe it will just be a little shorter for that next hot dry summer. Our summer is mirroring yours - lots of rain, not as much heat - so A+ for grass, C- for tomatoes & M.I.A. for the monarchs sadly.

  10. I have a coreopsis like yours but it flops, perhaps because it gets some afternoon shade? I once heard someone say that no matter what the weather, some plants thrive in it and some flounder, and I think that is true.

  11. You have some pretty wildflowers in your garden, we have been having more rain than what we usually get this time of year, in Winter and the plants love it.

  12. Love the Scarlet Rosemallow--I can see why you fell for it. I don't think we've had as much rain as you have, but certainly enough this summer. It's great to see all the plants (and critters) happy. :)

  13. We passed our yearly average of rain this week in Greenville, SC, and it's still coming. Lakes and reservoirs are full for the first time in years, but everyone has thrown in the towel on the summer veggie garden--not enough sun or heat. Have to admit, I'm ready to see a stretch of blue sky myself.

    Fabulous Joe-Pye. Your blog is a favorite. http://marianstclair.wordpress.com

  14. Here in my NW Arkansas garden, it is raining again to the tune of 6 inches in 2 days. And like you, I appreciate the rain, but last night I had to do a dance of stomping plants back in place due to the rain washing them up. I even had bulbs wash up. From one extreme to the other and yet I still love it.

  15. It's been a beautiful summer here, too, though we sure haven't had as much rain as you have had. I also lost one of my Butterfly Weeds--I blamed the lawnmower at first until I realized the roots had rotted away from the spring drenching we had. So sorry about your Echinacea Pallidas, though. It makes me wonder what can survive both drought and torrents of rain. Your Joe Pye sure looks happy--so beautiful!

  16. Unfortunately, nothing has changed here in the piney woods of east Texas. Oh, we did have some coolish days in July but the 100 degree heat has now set in with no chances of any rain in the immediate future. Sigh!

  17. My Joes are starting to bloom this year, last year I was sure they were goners. I need to see if any of my H. coccineus seeds are still viable...think they look great with the Joes.

  18. I guess we are not too far apart, as our weather is quite similar. Normally, we are wet all winter and dry all summer. This year, we've had frequent rain and it's a bit cooler. It's wonderful! Yesterday alone we had an inch and a half. Isn't it marvelous?

  19. It's hard for us in rain-starved Southern California not to be envious of your heavy rainfall but I recognize that there can be too much of a good thing. Until some kind of stable weather pattern is established (we can only hope), maybe it would be a good idea to fill the holes with potted plants - at least those allow you to control the drainage to a greater degree and you can always move them to a covered location in a pinch...

  20. Your Joe Pye Weed are looking fantastic. The scarlet rose mallow is a great addition!

  21. My friend Otahal just gave me a white Texas Star Hibiscus. I'll save you some seeds if you want!

  22. I am also loving the rain especially for the veg garden...I adore Joe and he was my wildflower for last months WW.

  23. you never disappoint!! it as been dry here for a couple days so hot

  24. Oh, please send it our way! Your garden is looking so good. It's really wonderful that the butterflies have something to eat.

  25. I won't say we have had too much, but it has rained regularly, and rained good. The gardens are all lush and full, and the lawn companies must be very happy. Along with the rain have come nice temperatures, and I am typing this next to an open window with the crickets singing outside. Our local stands of Joe Pye are very happy.

  26. It has been a strange summer for many gardeners in one way or another. Your garden looks like there are still a lot of great things happening. I have a (Autumn Blush?) coreopsis like yours, but due to OUR weather here, has not been happy this summer.

  27. This can come as a bit of a surprise to new players, so be sure to check the requirements of
    any casino bonus and if anything doesn't appeal to you, make sure
    you contact the casino's customer support to opt out of their bonus scheme before you make
    any deposit. You will surely understand the gist of the
    discussion. It might be easier for us to get the rewards there are if we are playing it with the casino games we like.

    Don't be scared to wander into somewhere else on the continent to grab any quests available there
    - heck, maybe it's time to try a new continent.

    Here is my web blog - international removals


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson