Hope Grows: July 2011

The heat is on. We have had 4 straight months of above normal temperatures and very little rain. The heirloom tomatoes do not like this heat nor dry conditions so they are not producing any worthwhile fruit. The Japanese beetles are devouring my roses and the task of de-beetling 55 rose bushes is a little overwhelming so their life cycle continues. You see, this is not a pretty sight.

And to add insult to injury, four more plants fell victim to the voles...a butterfly weed, woodland poppy, sedum and columbine. Drat!

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

And so onward to the brighter side of life...

Last month I was looking forward to harvesting all the fruit that was starting to ripen in the garden. We have been enjoying fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. There is nothing sweeter and more rewarding than picking fruit from ones own garden.

The summer faithfuls have performed despite the drought and heat. This is truly a lesson in why natives and drought tolerant plants are so important in the garden.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer' which was newly planted this spring is showing off.

Purple Heart is constantly covered in the tiniest of pollinators.

The Monarda is covered in pollinators from dawn to dusk! I recently read that it is an excellent companion plant to tomatoes improving both the flavor and health of tomatoes. (Noted for next year...I will need to move some to the vegetable garden.) And, since it is such a bee magnet it also attracts the pollinators to the vegetable garden (double duty!)

And of course the ever dependable (at least for one day) daylilies.

The flies seem to love this particular daylily. There are 4 or 5 on each bloom at any given time.

Canna (a pass along plant from my in-laws) is beginning to bloom. I love the orange and yellow pattern of these blooms.

But there are also some exciting discoveries to be found. The columbine has reseeded itself  profusely this past year and sometimes in unexpected places like this one growing in the pathway in the woodland garden. 

The butterfly weed (that didn't fall prey to the voles) has recovered after being devoured by the monarch caterpillars earlier this spring!

And one of the Echinecea that were completely consumed by Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail is trying to make a comeback (with the help of a little bunny proof netting).

This I understand: Mother Nature is a maniac. That is to say, she has a mania for reproduction. She maintains life within an organism so long as there is hope of it s reproducing itself. Then she kills it off, and does so in the most diverse ways because of her other mania of remaining mysterious. ~ Italo Sveo

I have had noticeably fewer large butterflies, swallowtails and monarchs, in the garden so far this summer. Apparently they don't care for the heat and lack of water either. However, I have noticed a few other smaller butterflies for the first time...a Pearl Crescent (Brushfoot Family)

and this red-banded hairstreak (Gossamer-wing family). I love her stripped little legs and antenna! It is rather Dr. Seuss like.

I am hoping that this is just the beginning of the vegetables...

Sweet Banana Pepper

Sweet 100 tomato

and that the figs will start to ripen and I can pick them before the birds get to them. I am willing to share a few but hopefully the birds won't gorge themselves again.

But what I am really hoping for is some RAIN! Fingers crossed!

I am linking to Sweet Bean Gardening for Hope Grows! Thanks Hanni for hosting!


  1. You may have a heat spell for a long time but your apparently dealing with it well as your blooms are all lovely and fruits look fantastic.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. The joys and frustrations of growing fruit and vegetables! There's nothing to beat food from your own garden but so often something goes sideways. I planted borage for my tomatoes this year. Like your monarda the insects love it.

  3. I am in the same boat as you. Docked! ;) Your fruit looks amazing! I definitely need to add some to my garden. Loved your quotes, too! Gardening is not for sissy's!

  4. All your heat and drought came our way and has decided to stay. Despite the conditions, your plants look great! I've had the same observations about butterflies this year, too. I had quite a few swallowtail caterpillars in spring but haven't seen any big butterflies anywhere I've been in weeks. We had a cool, wet spring and I wonder if it was just too much for them. But I do have lots of little butterflies, even tiny blue ones. I hope all the big ones come back!!

    The beetles are back here, too. Grr!! :(

  5. We have been having some rain in the past week. I am glad because in past years this is usually a very dry period...however, it is unpredictable. I hope your weather gets better. I have seen some butterflies...but want to see more. Your photos are a very nice display.

  6. Oh my...look at all those beetles! Ick! Your berries photo looks delicious- how many berry bushes do you have?

  7. Sunray Gardening, I think all the rain we had in the early spring helped but I have had to supplement water to some of the plants that are still establishing themselves and of course the pots and hanging baskets. They dry out SO quickly!

    Marguerite, companion planting certainly helps but even with all the effort sometimes the bugs just win out in the end.

    HolleyGarden, so true! It is a test of patients and perseverance and also knowing when to say no! But isn't it great when we get rewarded by mother nature?!

    Casa Mariposia, well in true southern fashion we do like to share! :) Strange about the butterflies...I had caterpillars earlier too but hardly see any butterflies. I wonder where they all went?

    The Sage Butterfly, the weather person keeps reporting rain and it always seems to pass us by. Grr! Even as I type I hear the thunder but alas no rain.

    Hanni, I have 4 blueberry bushes, a row of strawberries, 1 blackberry, 1 fig, and a whole patch of raspberries...it spread and grows like mad. In addition the empty lot next door has wild blackberries but they are a bit tricky to get too. I definitely recommend blueberries. They are a great shrub to incorporate in the garden and easy to grow!

  8. Oh those darn beetles! I just found out from The Eco Gardener that Garlic, Shallots, and Tansy plants help to repel Japanese beetles. I haven't tried it, but I'm thinking the Scallions I plant around the perimeter of my kitchen garden help a little bit, too. I hope you get some rain and a break from the heat soon!

  9. I too have seen a lack of butterflies. not sure why.

  10. Your first photo is so good, but scary. That is a lot of beetles per square inch. I never saw a hairstreak. It has wicked witch of the west stockings on. LOL.

  11. Sorry to hear about your weather, beetle and vole problems. Not exclusive to you,unfortunately. At least your fruits and lilies are looking good.

  12. Praying for rain right along with you! I'm seeing very few butterflies here and thankfully, there are fewer mosquitoes at least! Sorry to hear about your pests but love the quotes and light hearted attitude you've adapted. I'm finding a few volunteer columbines here and there too - i love that!

  13. I am drooling at the sight of all those yummy berries...Yum!! Sorry to hear you are having such a long hot dry summer, hope you get some rain along with some beautiful cool breezes soon. And gosh those darn beetles, hope leave your 50 roses alone...yikes I will never complain about my 5 bushes again ;)

  14. You have so much going on in your garden, despite the heat and drought! Mmm .... berries. I haven't seen any monarchs this summer and have noticed fewer butterflies, too. I wonder what's going on ... Lovely photos, as always. If you figure out what to do about voles, let us know. I hate seeing a plant beautiful one day, then collapsed and dead the next. A vole even ate a potted plant this year!

  15. I'm holding thumbs for you that you get your wished for rain :)

  16. PlantPostings, thank for passing along that information. I also found from The Sage Butterfly that 4 o'clocks contain a toxin that is poisonous to Japanese beetles. I will have to try these out next year!

    greggo, despite the fact that I am hearing from so many people about the lack of butterflies, I haven't read anything "official" about this. I had the caterpillars earlier in the year but don't know what happened to them all.

    GWGT, you are spot on about The wicked witch stockings! The beetles are big too. I mistook one for a baby hummingbird moth while it was buzzing around the other day...that is how large some of the beetles are!

    Plant Chaser, unfortunate but true! We have enjoyed the fruits of our labor!

    Cat, y'all are worse off than we are. I feel your pain. We can do the rain dance together!

    Julia, some areas are getting too much rain and others not enough...would be nice if Mother Nature would spread the wealth a little!

    Sheila, we now put wire mesh and gravel in every hole to keep out the voles. It works beautifully but now they are going after the plants that we put in before we tried this system.

    TheGardeningBlog, it must have worked. We got some rain the other night. Thank you!

  17. We love it all! The butterflies are amazing, as are the lilies. We even envy your weather... well, we will until we've had a solid week of it ourselves LOL. Great post and ultrafab photos.

  18. Great photos - the berries look delicious and summery!


Post a Comment

One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

Popular Posts