Monday, September 1, 2014

Gardening in the Heat of Summer

I will say it right away, summer is not my favorite time of the year in San Diego. It is way too hot to garden comfortably outside except very early in the mornings and late in the evenings. On the other hand there is so much to do in the garden. At this time of the year I am mainly busy with hand-watering, weeding, deadheading roses, fertilizing and mulching. Unfortunately I hardly find the time to plant anything new.

Most people assume San Diego has a very mild and temperate climate and that is true when you live directly on the coast, but many people, like us, can't afford to buy a house there and are forced to move more inland. With every mile away from the coast temperatures seem to rise and in the summer time you are reminded every day that you are living in a desert. But enough complained, I am happy that I do have a garden and just try to make the best out of it at any given time of the year.

This lovely clay statue was made by a friend and given to us as a house warming present after we bought our first house in Menlo Park, California. I couldn't find a good place to put it for a long time until in the beginning of summer I decided to give it a try in my Hybrid Perpetual rose bed. The roses are casting quite a bit of shade there on the ground, so that the lilac scabiosas, that I had originally planted in this location, didn't grow and gradually declined. I surrounded the statue with impatiens 'Super Elfin White', which seem to be surprisingly happy there and I like how they and the white statue lighten up this area. 

This is hardy geranium, commonly called cranesbill, 'Rozanne'. The plant is non-stop in bloom from spring until up to now and will probably go on until late autumn. It is such a grateful variety.

When I saw this Martha Washington geranium, pelargonium domesticum, 'Regal Elegance Purple Majesty' in spring, I had completely fallen in love with its color and had to have it. At $ 16.99 for a three gallon container it came with a quite steep price tag, but I gave in, because I knew it would complement the David Austin rose 'The Prince', which is growing nearby, perfectly. I thought that Martha Washington geraniums would only flower in spring, but this one keeps going although less profusely and the flowers are smaller than in spring.

This white flowering cyclamen (unknown variety) is gracing our front door. Nothing special about it on the first glance, except that it starts to bloom in the heat of summer. Can you see the little flower bud peeping up? My understanding is the cyclamen are only flowering when the weather has really cooled down in autumn in my area.

I think that the foliage of this cyclamen looks so pretty.

Fungi growing in the mulch. In the summer they can appear from one day to the other. I have read that fungi only grow in healthy soil, so I embrace them as a good sign.

I am gardening in a dry, arid and hot climate, where one would think slugs and snails wouldn't be such a big deal, but let me tell you that is wrong. Even in the heat of summer these little critters are quite a problem in some parts of my garden.

I am so in love with this chartreuse colored coleus 'Wasabi'. I think, the color is just fantastic! It is another of my spring acquisitions that I haven't shown on my blog, yet. I wouldn't expect a coleus to grow well in my climate, but this one does. Besides its obvious beauty, this plant is special to me for an entirely different reason. When my eighty two year old mom, visited me in spring I dragged her to a nursery and she found this plant and pointed it out to me. So whenever I look at the coleus it reminds me of her and our nursery visit, which is really nice. Thanks mom!

Something is wrong in this picture. Do you see the big variegated leaves at the base of rosa 'Chandos Beauty'?

Close-up of the leaves from the photo above. I am not a vegetable gardener, but to me it looks like a vegetable.

Even though the foliage is fairly pretty, it had to go since it is stealing nutrients from the rose. Turning to the vegetable growers of you out there: Do you know what it really is? I am sure the seeds came from our worm bin, which contains kitchen scrapes, when I spreaded the worm castings underneath the rose bush.

Rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard' in severe need of deadheading after its second flush.

Aaaah, so much better already! After a good feeding with Biostart organic rose fertilizer, alfalfa meal topped off with compost...

... it is gearing up for its third flush.

'Pierre de Ronsard' is certainly one of my favorite roses in the garden. The flowers have a beauty that is hard to beat!

In August, seemingly out of nowhere, this plant is arising its snake like head from the ground.

Fairly quickly it begins to open its buds...

...into these lovely blooms.

More and more buds are opening...

...unfolding themselves...

... until finally this beauty emerges. The plant still has made no leaves, yet. It is an amaryllis belladonna and was supposed to be the white flowering variety 'Fred Meyer Whites', but obviously it it not. Anyway, this pink variety is very pretty, too.

Summer is also the time when the agapanthus blooms. This dark blue variety is called 'Storm Cloud'. I have the impression that it is not flowering as profusely as the light blue more common varieties.

These six little plants of geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' I also bought in spring already and believe me, they have looked better then. 'Biokovo' has light pink almost white flowers and I thought it might be a nice perennial addition for my White Garden Bed. If you squint, you might see two tiny blooms in this picture.

Planted freshly in the ground the geranium is stretching itself already a little bit and seemed to like it better there than in the container.

You almost need a magnifying glass right now to find the geranium 'Biokovo' in this photo. They are planted to the right and left side of the cycads. They are supposed to grow 12 - 18 inch high and 18 - 24 inch wide, so I think that soon they will have more impact. The rose in the middle is 'Moonstone', a white flowering Hybrid Tea rose with a pink center. I hope that the geraniums will complement this rose nicely. 

Even though the roses do struggle in the heat of summer and don't bloom that profusely, occasionally they still can be magnificent like 'The Prince' accompanied by salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue'.

See you in the garden!



  1. Oh, I would love to have your climate! I'd take the heat for a little bit if I had a pool. :) We usually have hot, humid summers here in the Midwest, with highs in the 80s, 90s, and occasionally 100s. This summer was a little more mild, with highs hovering around 80 all summer--it was fabulous! My niece lives in San Diego, but closer to the coast. She says the climate, year-round, is far superior to Wisconsin with its extremes. To me, Wisconsin would be perfect without the winter. ;-) Anyway, that's funny that you found a volunteer vining plant under your roses. I wonder if it's a Watermelon? Your Roses are beautiful! And I love that 'Wasabi' Coleus, too--I've grown it in the past, as well, as an annual. Happy (almost) autumn, Christina!

  2. Du mußt einen unglaublich schönen Ausblick haben - kannst du ihn nicht mal zeigen? Ich weiß nicht, ob Pilze ein gutes Zeichen sind, für mich stehen sie für Verrottung und viele Stauden vertragen das ja nicht.
    Meine Rozanne hat kaum geblüht, sie steht viel zu schattig. Im nächsten Jahr hole ich mir neue für den Kübel, der steht dann mitten auf dem Platz.
    Bei dir müssen die Agapanthen ja wunderbar gedeihen, sicher bleiben sie draußen?


    1. Sigrun, I also have recognized that even here in California the geranium 'Rozanne' needs quite a bit of sun to bloom properly. I had one planted in too much shade and it became a leggy plant with not many blooms on it.
      Yes, usually agapanthus grows very well here in our climate. This lovely plant is even somewhat drought tolerant, which is another great plus.

  3. What you have achieved, in spite of the heat, is wonderful Christina. There are things I would have never expected to see though, like the snails and fungi. They must be virtually indestructible! An interesting post.

  4. hallo Christina,

    die Amaryllis ist ja eine Wucht. Hoffentlich kannst Du Dich lange an ihrer Blüte erfreuen.

    Ich mußte eine Rozanne aus einem Kübel umpflanzen und war überrascht, daß sie wohl zwei Ableger gebildet hat. So konnte ich mit diesen noch zwei Rosen in Kübeln unterpflanzen.

    Ja, der Ausblick würde mich auch interessieren. Man konnte auf einigen Bildern schon etwas erkennen.

    Liebe Grüße

  5. Hi Christina, lovely to read some updates about your garden. The statue looks great surrounded by white flowering Impatiens and the cyclamen in the pot looks fab! Not long now till autumn and you can get stuck in gardening again in more comfortable temperatures :)

  6. Wow Christina ~ What a lovely visit to your gardens. You have such pretty flowers added to your beautiful roses. This was a real treat! I love that statue and it looks wonderful with the impatiens growing around it.

    Enjoy September, hopefully we both will see cooler temps this month.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  7. Christina I don't think I like summer gardening except for the veg garden...other than that it is too humid and hot usually to do much...I do love your foliage and flowers and that cyclamen in the blue pot is gorgeous.

  8. El jardín esta precioso. La planta es calabaza. Besitos.

  9. I must say Christina that I am completely taken with your sculpture surrounded by those white blooms! That vignette is gorgeous friend! And you have reminded me again why I love geraniums so! Your last photo is a stunning combination as well! Now you stay cool!!! I feel the same way right now as we are in the middle of a heat wave and the mosquitoes are horrible! Beautiful garden friend!!! Lovely week to you! Nicole xo

  10. Liebe Christina,
    ich beneide Dich wirklich nicht um die Hitze, auch wenn wir hier im August ganz gerne noch ein paar sommerlich heiße Tage gehabt hätten. Stattdessen war es regnerisch und von den Temperaturen her schon fast herbstlich...Auch wenn Ihr nicht näher an der Küste wohnt, so scheint Ihr doch traumhaft schön zu wohnen und habt, soweit ich das erkennen kann, einen atemberaubenden Blick über die Gegend.
    Ich bin immer wieder erstaunt wie toll die Rosen in Eurem Klima gedeihen, 3 Bllühfolgen, davon können wir hier nur träumen!
    Das Gewächs unter der Chandos Beauty könnte eine Kürbis- oder Gurkenpflanze sein.

    Liebe Grüße, Bärbel

  11. I think your garden looks lovely and well cared for even in the heat. 'Rozanne' geraniums are one of my favorite plants. They always seem happy! Your amaryllis belladonna is beautiful. It's nice that they are drought tolerant, too. Your vegetable looks like a type of yellow zucchini that I once grew. It grew to a very large size! I hope you are having cooler days!

  12. Liebe Christina,

    ich kann mir gut vorstellen, dass so ein heißes Klima den August nicht gerade zum beliebtesten Monat macht. Wir hier jammern war schon seit Wochen wegen dem ständigen Regen und den bescheidenen Temperaturen. Aber eigentlich lässt es sich ganz gut aushalten nur um die Rosen tut es mir heuer echt leid, bei jeder Blüte das gleiche Bild, kaum sind sie voll geöffnet - regnet es wieder tagelang und die Blüten sind mit braunen Flecken übersät.
    Du hast gefragt warum die Ringelnatter nicht bleiben darf - ich habe viele Steine um den Gartenteich und zupfe immer wieder Unkraut weg und ich hasse es, wenn sie zwischen den
    Steinen liegen und mich zu Tode erschrecken. Darum fange ich sie und trage sie über den Berg hinunter zum Teich eines großen Wasserschlosses - ich finde dort ist es viel schöner als in meinem kleinen Garten und dem Miniteich! Aber ich bin froh, dass hier keine Giftschlangen kommen so wie bei Dir.
    Deine Pflanzen sind aber trotz der Hitze wunderbar - da sieht man die gute Pflege von Dir.
    Liebe Grüße,
    bis bald

  13. Hi Christina! I loved taking this tour of your beautiful gardens - what a lovely view you have! I know it is a challenge to garden in a hot climate, I used to live in Tucson, but you seem to have found the perfect varieties to give you lovely blooms despite the heat. I especially love your roses and the geraniums and the , well, I just love them all! It is so nice to have a plant that your Mother chose when she was visiting - a special reminder of a sweet visit. Thank you for visiting me and I am also glad to have found you! xo Karen

  14. You have some wonderful plants Christina. I imagine it must be quite a battle keeping everything looking great in the heat, but you seem to be doing a great job. The Amaryllis is especially gorgeous. I can't believe you still have a snail problem, those pests don't seem to be bothered by anything do they!

  15. Your garden looks like an oasis in a desert! I know what you mean about the difficulty of working in the heat of summer; we don't have have desert heat here but humidity adds to the heat we have. Even in the low 90s I get completely soaked working out in the garden.

    I must add 'Rozanne'. She's beautiful and I've only heard good things about her. And the purple geranium! I haven't seen one that shade of purple before. It's lovely!

    I can see why 'Pierre de Ronsard' is one of your favorite roses. The shading is exquisite. I love your amaryllis too.

  16. Malgré la chaleur intense, ton jardin se porte à merveille et toutes tes roses même si elles baissent un peu la tête, elles affrontent la sécheresse en donnant des roses. Je suis ravie de lire ton attachement pour le géranium Rozanne, c'est une force de la nature toujours pimpant prêt à donner et redonner des fleurs. Un bonheur ce géranium. Dans ma région de France, depuis quelques jours, mon jardin est confronté lui aussi à la chaleur et pas de pluie depuis trois semaines. Ce soir, les hydrangéas n'ont pas fière allure....
    Belle soirée. Jocelyne

  17. Liebe Christina,
    ich spüre deine Sonne auf meiner Haut und mir tut sie gut! Wir hatten einen extrem bescheidenen Sommer und nun ist es auch schon Herbst. Daher genieße ich diese Bilder so und lege mich kurz an den Pool um über deine Welt zu schauen ... wundervoll!
    Hab eine traumhafte Zeit

  18. Your garden looks great! I love the white statue with the white impatiens. I think your mystery plant is some kind of squash. Your amaryllis is a lovely color; what a happy accident! I hope your weather, and mine also, will be cooling very soon.

  19. The garden looks great! 'Wasabi' has a real zing to it, and looks like a good one to try. The white statue and the Impatiens are made for each other! You must have to woe so hard to keep things looking as good as they do!

  20. Liebe Christina,
    achja, so ein kleines bißchen Sonne könntest du gerne rüberschicken ;-)
    Aber dein Garten sieht trotz der Hitze wunderwunderschön aus und
    gar nicht wie eine Wüste :-) Aber das ist sicher viel viel Arbeit!
    Ganz viele liebe gemütliche Wochenendsgrüße
    sendet dir die Urte :-)

  21. Wonderfull serie fotos garden en flowers,Greeting from Belgium.


    Mons in Belgium My city

  22. Christina, I thought I might pick out which rose I liked the best. Impossible! Your collection is stunning. If this is what you get in August, I can't imagine what your rose garden must look like in May!

  23. Beautiful photos on your blog!

  24. How did I miss commenting on this post? I think I read this on my phone with a view to returning to comment when I was on the larger screen!
    As always your roses are a delight and a real credit to your gardening skills/dedication Christina.
    I love the colour of the Coleous and I can see why your mum was so attracted to it. It's great that you have this to remind you of her visit in springtime.
    The last shot, is wonderful, perfection in fact!