Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Going to seed

The garden that I take care isn't looking so hot these days. It has an abundance of plants that flower in spring and early summer. It doesn't have nearly as much that thrives in mid to late summer. When you add in the fact that it's been relatively hot and dry for the past two months (at least by Massachusetts standards), and that I prefer to avoid heavy watering unless the plants look like they are in danger of actually dieing - it all adds up to a garden that looks somewhat wilting and ratty, in addition to lacking many flowers.
In the picture directly above, half of the green comes from weeds (mostly goldenrod, the tall ones with numerous small leaves). I don't have the heart to rip them out when they provide greenery and little yellow flower spikes as well.

A big patch of tradescentia plus heat and lack of water plus neglect equals a matted mess of dried up old tradescentia plants.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), with its lush leaves scorched brown by too much sun and not enough water. The yellow fruit has matured, though - the entire plant, including immature fruit, is poisonous, but the mature fruit is supposedly fine to eat (I haven't tried it myself). This is really a shade plant, which I unwisely planted in almost full sun. It does great in the spring and very early summer, then gets scorched as the weather gets hotter and drier. This has happened every year for at least 5 or 6 years - this year is just a little worse than usual.

Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), mostly past their prime and starting to go to seed. These may be the best self-seeding garden flowers that I have ever seen. Each individual plant seems to live about 2-4 years, but no new plants have been added to the garden for probably 15 years or so. All of the plants growing there now are self-seeded.

It may be a "lazy gardener's technique", but I have no problem with letting weeds that I consider attractive grow in parts of the garden that are thin on proper domesticated plants. This is a clump of milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), with not yet opened seedpods near the top of some of the plants. It will come as no surprise to most gardeners that the weeds, whether desired or not desired, have tended to cope with the heat and low rainfall better than most of the cultivated plants!


Daricia said...

my garden is not particularly full of flowers in summer, either. i have a lot more in spring and i've been working on a decent fall display. summers are just kind of busy and really hot and mosquitoey. your milkweed and goldenrod will look good for a while yet, won't they? i didn't know about mayapples being edible. i wonder what they taste like, but i'm a little afraid to taste one!

RPS77 said...

The fully ripe fruit is the only part of the mayapple that's non-toxic and edible, and I'm reluctant to try even that!

The milkweed and goldenrod will probably stay green well into the fall, though the milkweed has already gone to seed and the goldenrod is near the end of its flowering period. They both seem to be pretty heat and drought tolerant, at least compared to most other plants in the garden.