Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Jumping Right Into Summer
by James Glaser
April 9, 2010
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flowersLast week it was spring, and this week it is summer. Last week I was waiting every morning for the sun to warm things up before I would start working outside, and this week I started getting up early to beat the heat.

Actually, it has only been in the high 80's, and we haven't experienced the humidity of true summer, but a 20 to 25 degree jump in temperature wakes you right up. Also, you have to start thinking about staying hydrated. Last week I could work all day and never break a sweat. This week I was changing to fresh shirts a couple times a day.

One nice thing about the increase in heat is that my vegetables in the garden have really taken off. My tomatoes are filled with blossoms, and all the seeds I planted have sprouted. For a long while all the plants looked to be dormant. Now I can see new leaves almost every day. Also I notice when digging to plant something new, the soil feels warm or at least not chilly like it has been.

This week we planted roses and transplanted hydrangeas. I thought we had caught up with the yard work, but Wanda came home with 20 Loropetalums in three gallon pots. They are bushes that grow to about 5 feet high... we think. The common names for this plant are "Fringe Flower" or "Chinese Witch Hazel." They have burgundy leaves and pink fuchsia like flowers. Wanda planted four of them last night, and we have sixteen to go. We hope to make a fence-like row of them along our front property line, but we will need another twenty to really fill that line out.

bloomsRight now, we have more than 10,000 blooms in our yard. Azaleas are all over the place with red, white, and pink blossoms. The dogwoods are in flower, and so are the wisteria. Some of the camellias are still blooming, and we found one Japanese magnolia in the edge woods, and it had just one bloom. We are going to clear out around it and see what happens next spring. Here is a surprise—our fig trees already have little figs on them, and we never saw any sort of flower or bud.

When I was living up North, I would look in the seed catalogs and see all the flowers that thrive in the South, but would freeze out in the winter up there. Now I think of the things that I grew up there that won't make it though the summers here. Lilacs and Hostas are out people tell me, and Wally Davis, our local garden store man, said that rhubarb doesn't do well here either. Sad to say because I love rhubarb pies.

Tonight, as I write this, we are having a real soaker of a rain storm, and if the wind doesn't knock off all the blossoms, this weekend our yard will be at its peak for flower beauty.

Then after the azaleas and dogwood finish blooming, we will still have all the flowers that we have planted, and I noticed my first rose of the year. We have over fifteen rose bushes in the yard, and some of them are old with a main stock larger in diameter than a quarter.

I am including some pictures of the yard in bloom so you can see what I am talking about. Also, there is a shot of my potting shed. It isn't finished, but it is getting close. Then all I need is a white picket fence around the shed and garden, with a couple of arbor gates.

Yard work is work, but it is also fun. Wanda and I have a good time out there trying to put together a landscape that looks like it had some planning, but is not what you would call a formal garden. We both have to give and take with our ideas, and I think it is starting to flow in the right direction.

garden outbuilding

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