Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dog Days of Summer

With the Dog days of summer upon us, gardening has nearly stopped, except for the constant watering, especially the new plants. Our mornings begin deceivingly cool, comfortable, sometimes misty, cloudy, even brooding. By noon-ish the sun has burned away the cool cloud cover, bringing the temperatures to 90+ by mid afternoon. By day's end the storm clouds begin to arrive, coming from the northwest. Sometimes they only threaten; other days they send down pounding rain with lots of drama, deafening thunder, and frightening lightening.

Water lilies thrive during the Dog Days.

The ancient Romans sacrificed a red dog in April to the star Sirius thinking that it was the cause of the hot, miserable weather that followed it's appearance in the sky. The largest star in the constellation Canis Major during those times rose in the morning sky just before the sun or as the sun rose. The star then was blamed for the Dog Days, a time when the sea boiled, wine soured, dogs went mad, and even man suffered from diseases, especially mental malfunctions. 

Today the Farmer's Almanac sets the Dog Days between July 3 and August 11, the days in the Northern Hemisphere with the least amount of rain. (Wikipedia). Thankfully we don't sacrifice dogs, red or any other color. Now we have global warming and climate change to explain weather. (Resisting editorial comments).

My favorite time to garden is early evening when it is cool, and the sun has dipped low on the horizon about to drift behind the a Rocky Mountains. But with the rains and the ever present threat of Mosquitos, this summer I have been a bit lazy of late and in part because we worked so hard to get the gardens ready for the reunion. I really hate Mosquitos. Here they carry the often deadly West Nile virus. We are cautioned to wear mosquito repellent with Deet. Who wants to put that disgusting stuff on? We are also cautioned that Deet is not safe for humans at 35% concentration; however, the most popular repellent Off has only18%, but the stuff is still icky. When I purchased my hand lotion at Bath and Body Works, the clerk shared that the vanilla scent that I chose worked as a mosquito repellent. I'd say that on days when I have lotioned my body, the little varmints haven't bothered as much.

July brings a profusion of summer bloom: here are my July favorites:

 Corcosmia Lucifer is such a beauty with its fiery red blooms on regal iris-looking stems.

Aptly named, the red flowers stand out in the garden. It didn't bloom last summer, so this summer I was very anxious, checking everyday to see if there were any hints of blooms. I was well rewarded. I do wonder if it gets enough sunlight. I believe that because we had a wetter winter, many of our plants and trees performed better this season.

New to the garden, the obedient plant is just the sweetest little darling. Right now dwarfed by the wild dill, it plods along, blooming its little heart out. I wish had purchased more. I saw it on someone else's blog in a gorgeous huge tall clump. I have my fingers crossed that this little plant winters well.

It's called Dill Weed for a reason!

You can barely see Obedient behind the dill. While I relish the fragrance as I walk by and enjoy the yellow flowers and hope that a black swallowtail butterfly will lay her eggs on the thin fronds, I am going to cut it off before the seeds mature and drop. I doubt that I will ever rid the front garden of dill, but I intend to reduce its spread. You can't see in this photo the sprinkler head that it blocks from irrigating the garden behind the dill; thus, a dry spot. As Lady McBeth laments: "Out damn spot."  So "Out Dill."

I can never remember the name of this day lily planted in the front garden, facing the road. It has "edgings" in it name. I should remember its name because the Head Garden reminded me the other day that it was a $30 plant. (Yank that man's credit card). It come with 3 plants and a free-be day lily, but still . .  . . The color in the photo does not quite capture the pretty pink edging, and I do believe that the first blooms had the more vibrant coloration than the more recent blooms.

You all got quite a chuckle out of our garden conversation, so I thought I'd show you the hole. You can see the clamp that holds the repair splice in place. I should have moved the sunflower aside. But I didn't. 

When I planted the clematis here, I never imagined that it would do so well, but look at it. With the cold, wet weather we had in the spring, I did not get it pruned back and it went wild. Would you believe that it has engulfed one miniature rose and totally covers Gertrude Jekyll? I am going to have to cut it back before it chokes out the roses. I really wanted it to cascade over the front of the garden wall, not smother everything else is its path.

I have one more flower to share: 

I spent months last year going to thrift shops looking for dishes to make garden art and now the Moment of Truth has come. I made my first flower. I get over exuberant on a project that I really really want to do. Trouble is I am not particularly crafty. I did a lot of research to see how these flowers are made, pinned dozens of inspirations, and looked obssessively for glass plates. The red plate I found at an estate sale Saturday for a $1 inspired me to get moving. (A note on red glass: quality red glass is made with gold, so it is very hard to find and expensive. Most red glass is just painted that will wash off.) I am sure that in a trendy antique store it would bring much more. I have also had a problem detaching myself from the pretty dishes in order to resist putting them in the cupboard. Like I need more pretty dishes. These are junk dishes, I tell myself. Anyway, I used E6000 glue to glue them together. I still need to add the stem which I will do in a few days after the glue has cured. I have a table full of dishes in the garage waiting to metamorphose into beautiful flowers. Don't you think that they will make nice gifts?

The Head Gardener has gone to the mountains to set up game cameras where he hunts elk. (If any of you are squeamish about hunting, please don't be. He is an ethical hunter, hunts with a bow and arrow, and elk meat is much healthier than beef. In addition, over the 30 years or so of archery hunting the score remains Hunter: 1; Elk: 29.) So I am on my own today

. Another moment of truth has arrived: I will begin work on the dollhouse by painting the first coat on the interior before I glue it together. I am nervous.

I enjoyed the response on Anns Dollhouse Dreams, my new blog. It is still a work in progress as I try to work around Google's new profile presentation. I am wondering how I will keep up with two blogs, but that one will be updated as I make progress on not one, but now 3 dollhouses. Yep 3. But that's for the other blog. Take a peak if you will. 

Thanks for visiting. I do enjoy every moment I spend with you either reading your posts or your kind comments that you leave with me. Have a wonderful week. The Dog Days of summer will soon end and we will begin to sense that Fall is just around the corner. 


  1. The glass dishes are beautiful and look so good together. Love all of your flowers....up close they are amazing! And I'm enjoying your doll house blog. I may just hang out there today! Sweet hugs, Diane

  2. What a nice relaxing post. I love your flower plate! I have seen those and just love them, your looks wonderful.

  3. Our garden needs so much work and at this time of year everything looks very sad, we are having lots of lovely sunny weather here in the UK at the moment which is not that good for the plants. I am looking forward to seeing your glass flower finished. Xxx

  4. Oh I love this post, Ann!! You've shared some lovely flowers with us, most of which I'm not familiar with. My favorites are the Obedient Plant, and the ruffled Day Lily. Also, your water lilies are gorgeous! Wow, I've never seen Clematis grow like that -- amazing. :) I do hope it doesn't choke and kill the Gertrude Jekyll rose. I'll be sharing some wildflowers we photographed in the Great Smoky Mountains this week; I think you would enjoy that post.

    I enjoyed reading about the origins of Dog Days of summer. I had heard that it referred to Sirius the Dog Star, but hadn't heard about the dog sacrifice. Yep, I'm glad they're no longer doing that. I had to laugh about your "resisting editorial comments" on global warming and climate change. You and my hubby could have a long chat on that I do believe. :)

    Before I forget, your dish flower is absolutely darling -- what a nice gift for someone special! You did a great job with that, Ann. I hope you have a good week!



  5. Your glass flower is really pretty. It will look lovely in your garden. The dill crop is quite something! And your clematis - Wow!
    Have a great week.

  6. Such abundance in your garden - and I personally love your dill and the chartreuse coloured heads. The Obedience plant, which I have never heard of, looks very like Jacobs ladder which just refuses to grow for me. Hope it cools off a little for you - enjoy your week.

  7. Indeed the waterlilies thrive during these hot days. Here they are doing better then before. I love your dill and Crocosmia. Your Physostegia, the obedient plant we had long ago in our former garden and it was growing like weed, that's why I never planted it again. It must be fun to make these glass flowers. May be I will give it a go in the future, when I have collected enough glass.

  8. Your descriptive weather sounds cooler at night then ours, I'm envious....

    But I can sympathize over the mozzies...nasty dirty infectious buzzing creatures that they are, we have the West Nile disease here also. And the stinkers bite at noon..

    I'm like you, by the end of July I've had it, done, over cooked, under refreshed, and fed up. But that still leaves a month or more of endless watering, and watching nature have it's way with all of my hard work.

    I had no idea that some poor dog had give up it's life every summer...and here we glamorize history.

    Stay cool, stay refreshed, and stay vigilant about the mozzies.

    Great post Ann.


  9. I just saw all kinds of glass garden flower art at the flea market where we're vacationing. I like the one you made, a good way to recycle.

  10. Love your garden flowers. I've been wanting to make one of those, they sell them at a cute shop a couple of towns over but I figure I could just make one. I'm still waiting to make one :)
    Yours is so pretty, I love the glass choices.