Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's New in Bloom?

This has been a wonderful summer in Central Virginia - it's a few degrees cooler than usual, we have consistently gotten 3/4 inch of rain weekly, and the humidity has not yet rolled in. It's made mornings working in the garden just lovely and more fun than usual, and - way more importantly - it's perfect for sitting on the porch in the late afternoon just enjoying the view.... and the delightful smell!

And that's the news. The new bloom is the Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'. It's the shrub at the corner of the shed beyond the pond. It is covered with little coral "candles" that smell heavenly. The nickname of this shrub is "summersweet" and for good reason. If the breeze is coming from that direction, we can smell it on the deck! The hummers and butterflies are doing battle with the bees for the nectar.

Clethra is an easy shrub to grow. This one is about five years old and probably 90% full grown. It likes our acid soil, but will do fine in a sweeter site. It does like water, so I have redirected the splash pan at the bottom of the corner downspout to redirect the water comes toward the clethra, instead of into the yard. This area also gets watered when I do the whole back garden, but this summer I have only done it three times - and one of those was an accident! In other words, I am not giving it extra water.

And, clethra comes in three colors: white ('Hummingbird'), a pale pink ('Rosea'), and this darker pink ('Ruby Spice'). The "candles" are actually called "racemes" and are made up of hundreds of time flowers which open making the candle fuzzy as it matures. I think the fragrance comes as each little bud "pops".

Most of my time this week has been spent with weeding and deadheading in preparation for going on vacation next week. I have set up the sprinklers in front and back so that they will automatically come on - weekly in the front and every four days in the back (hence the accidental watering this morning!). Thursday morning I will cut the lawn - shorter than normal - and then we have hired someone to cut it while we are gone. If the rain keeps up, we will need it!

My hope for vacation is that I will have the opportunity to visit some small gardens, or perhaps community gardens, and bring them to you over the next two weeks [you will have to read the other blog to find out what we are doing], but I am not sure what I will find.... so have a good two weeks and check in occasionally!

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