Bloom Where You Are

Bloom Where You Are

It is the last few days of July and my gardens have been under stress from heat and drought since the last week of May. That is a long time experiencing consistent record high temperatures topped off by little or no rainfall. Mornings and evenings have been spent dragging hoses and sprinklers from one section to the next attempting to keep plants from dying. Some things simply gave up and went dormant early. There is success keeping plants from passing away on me, but they sure look ragged around the edges.

I did my part to help all I could, and the garden has responded as best it can. After all, my gardens have no choice but to bloom where they are, as best they can. Two plants, of exceptional note, are in full bloom in spite of drought, record high temperatures, and it being late July when blooms can be a bit scarce in a woodland garden.

Hymenocallis occidentalis, or Spider Lily, is my favorite native lily bulb. It behaves much like the resurrection lily, or naked lady, in that long strap-like foliage has pretty much disappeared by mid-July. Then a nude scape rapidly rises from the soil topped with large pristine-white blooms. Long narrow petals are connected with what appears to be spider webbing at their base, thus the common name. This lily reaches about two feet in height. In nature, spider lily is found along stream banks and seepage. I have grown spider lily in my garden for 12 years or more and can relate that extra moisture is not a demand. While it may prefer a moist spot, it will do just fine with compost and mulch. Mine is located in the root system of a conifer.

Lilium specisoum rubrum, Red Showy Lily, is not only attractive to me, it is also a butterfly magnet. Stout stems reach about 4 feet in height. Blooms are crimson-rose with white edged petals. Over the crimson are rough spots of magenta, contrasted by the pinkish-white centers. A true show stopper especially under present gardening conditions. Plenty of light is required for good flower production. Too much shade and they will lean toward the source of most light.

Just looking at these two lilies in bloom makes me feel better about all the time and effort spent gardening in spite of less than perfect weather.

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Holly-tone

Holly-tone

This is not meant to be a commercial for Holly-tone. It is the fertilizer of choice that was recommended to me by old times when I first began collecting and growing azalea. I thought that if it worked for the pros, surly it was what I needed in my gardens. Turns out it was a good choice. And, I can find nothing objectionable in continuing a tradition. Especially if it works.
Since I am not big on fertilizing my gardens, I appreciate the fact that Holly-tones formulation is organic. At a rating of 4-3-4 this acid-loving fertilizer is not going to burn, nor push my plants into weak growth that can become insect magnets. I will be pulling the mulch back, scratching very lightly as azalea roots are so shallow, sprinkling the fertilizer and then pulling the mulch back into place.
While I am feeding my azaleas I usually sprinkle around my other acid-loving woodies as well. Creeping wintergreen has never looked better with abundant blooms and berry set than when I used Holly-tone for the first time. This year I intend to use a bit on my partridge berry and see how it reacts, since it has been sparse on berry set.

Epson salts
Another recommendation from old timers when feeding my azalea is to use Epson Salts. Two tablespoons to the gallon of water, sprinkled around the root systems. I have read several articles on the internet concerning its use with plants. I see articles recommending the use, articles saying it can do no harm and finally not recommended. Again, if it does no harm and may help, why not go for it? I think my azaleas are more lustrous in leaf, more small stems and thus more buds with leaf and bloom. If it does not help the azalea, it certainly make me feel better performing the ritual.

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