I have been astonished at how our bushes and shrubs have grown this year (on the other hand, I was also amazed last summer). However, as discussing their growth gives me the opportunity for an easy, relatively quick post at an interestingly busy yet lazy time, Iʼll show and tell about the bushesʼ bigness. (I think I continue droning on about the marvels of domesticated nature because I really donʼt have anything of any import to impart.)
I showed you most of our shrubs and stuff weeks ago, here and here. Itʼs worth clicking on the links and checking the old photos to compare the various plants to their more modern state (I should acknowledge that I shot some of these pictures earlier in August, so there are already some differences now: the big forsythia in particular looks much healthier and fuller than it did a while back — although I realize now that I didnʼt even think to take its picture). I will try to pair links with pictures at the end so you can compare for yourselves. (And I did just now go outdoors and took some newer shots of some of the plants.)
Last year, I believed it was the temperate conditions that played so well toward the plantsʼ health and growth. This August has not been temperate at all (in fact it reminded me of the summer that we first bought an air conditioner for our bedroom on the day before the start of school), and still something about the weather has been good for vegetable progress (which inspires images of incredible plant excess thanks to Andrew Marvellʼs “To His Coy Mistress”).
Anyway, back to the back yard. First up is our little hydrangea, for which I buried a variety of rusty metal objects in the dirt this spring. The only effect of the iron oxide in the ground seems to be a greater pinking of the flowers (we had read that rusty nails made white hydrangea blooms turn blue). It has filled out and grown a bit taller, but just like last year, once the blooms began to show, further growth on the bush seemed to stop. This picture is from the beginning of the month, August 4, but the only real difference is that once again the weight of the blossoms is dragging the bush more open (and less pretty).
Next up, we have across the yard, the local native, a rose of Sharon, which is past its full blooming, when in late July and early August the bush was ablaze in white flowers. But a few remain, and the plant itself has grown taller and wider. Janet has begun to push for some trimming, especially lower down, near the concrete. The bees love this bush. When I mowed two weeks ago, I stirred up maybe a half dozen when I got the mower in around the base (and myself into the branches above). Fortunately, it was a hot afternoon (as they all were back then, in fact up through Monday, with Tuesday being the big changeover day when the cold front came through and the temperatures and humidity both sagged to much more acceptable degrees), so the bees lazily ignored me, more or less. I did not get stung, although one big girl hung around my face for awhile.
I also love how huge the dogwood has grown and wonder just how gigantic it might be if the rabbits hadnʼt gnawed the stems and branches to almost nothing late in the winter and during the early spring. Rabbits (and ground squirrels, and for Janet, squirrels in general) provide the only reason I would ever imagine wanting a gun (or that the city allowed shooting firearms within the town limits). But weʼre prepared for them! Perhaps late yesterday or today sometime, if the wind has dropped, using some animal repellent we purchased in May that we just havenʼt seen the need to spray around yet, I may have taken the necessary precautions. And I will if I havenʼt yet, repeatedly, if it can keep the long-incisored rodents from trashing my plants again. — As you can see, the dogwood is quite a bit too large (nearing five feet tall or even over and just about that distance across, all new growth this spring and summer, astonishingly) for us to try to encircle with some rabbit fence, as we did do with the new sand cherry that the dratted conies consumed within a week of its planting.
And finally: the big bush (the one with the unacceptable nickname if you check back) is taller than it was supposed to get (by a couple of feet at least), and it is beginning to widen out, especially toward the east (would that be away from the wind, perhaps?). The overhead wire it is stretching branches above is just for cable TV (Mediacom whom we donʼt like much — we think it was their workers rather than city crewmen who took out parts of the lilac, which is doing very well itself, including extending higher branches back toward the pole), and no one in the neighborhood is currently on cable, so we donʼt really care how tall it gets, although we may get instructed to care. Weʼll see.
Other bushes have grown big, too. I just didnʼt shoot more pictures when I went out to do yard chores on Tuesday afternoon. I did, after all, have to scrub out the birdbath, water all the plants in pots and a few of the smaller plants in the yard (weigelas and baby lilacs), and in particular water the grass seed in the dirt along the sides of the driveway, the last of which takes considerable time when using just a watering can. An hour later, I decided to come indoors again, finish thawing squash soup for supper (along with a couple of Panera asiago cheese bagels), chop up a pound of feta to create crumbles for Janetʼs daily lunch salads, make the morning coffee (only to discover weʼre out of espresso, already), and then retire to the office to compose this post and remain a comfortable couple of days ahead of real time.
The big, old forsythia is bigger yet (and as I said above, filling out for some of the strange dead places — I may even have to trim it). The new forsythia is taller than the dogwood, thick with leaves, and doing very well. The big lilac outside the office window on the west now hides the bottom corner of the window, almost a third. The burning bush, at the other/eastern end of the patio from the rose of Sharon, is also taller and deeper than ever. (And unfortunately, the creeping Charlie in the yard has also gone nuts this August, trying to take over everywhere on the north and west — there may be a post in that pesky problem someday.)
To wrap this up, I am going to attempt a little do-it-yourself slideshow/comparison activity, allowing you to access the photos of the various shrubs and such from earlier in the year and more or less now.