We in the Twin Cities landscape gardening world  have had a hot and wet several weeks following a very short Spring.  

It was only one year ago our world was blessed with one of the most beautiful landscape garden seasons I can remember…….An early Spring….warm April, cool May, and a Summer of nothing general to have worried about.   Plantings with irrigation systems did exceptionally well making plants exceptionally healthy……and then November 13, 2010 visited and dumped nearly 3 feet of wet and heavy snow at my place doing more damage to my woody plants that all of the previous 36 years of residence here combined.

Have you noticed how beautiful the Nikko Blue and Endless Summer hydrangeas have been blooming?   Their blooms are nearly all pink or paler yet, but there is a record number of blooms on each plant….Why?

We had a mild autumn in 2010  right up to the sudden enormous snow dump on November 13.  After the dump all winter long there was no thaw….in January or any other time.  The snow kept accumulating and so protected flowering plants under snow cover from bud frost, so many blooms from the previous year’s formation survived the winter freeze and became available to cause you pleasure this month.

Warmth and regular watering aids plant growth even if you have forgotten to fertilize your landscape grounds for the past decade or two.   If we would look a moment to examine  our neighborhood’s  collections of plants, they all look rather lush……warmth and regular watering will do that to most plants, both woody and herbaceous.

For those of you lucky enough to have installed a sprinkling system,  and your garden consists nearly entirely of woody plants and lawn, you might want to consider waiting for a week before turning on your system for regular watering again.   Unless your grounds in sandy or sloped severely, and unless you have a wealth of herbaceous perennials as the mainstay of your grounds. 

I have thousands of perennials growing side by side and in and about my woody plant locations both in sunny and shady areas.  (One of the many reasons I use pyramidal forms of woodies, evergreens especially in the landscape,  is they do not cause shade.   You can grow any sun demanding  plant in their midst without fear  of disease or shabby appearances or decline.)

If your landscape garden soil is sandy, try to identify a shrub that is rather tell-tale about needing watering……The PeeGee hydrangea and its ‘off spring’ and hybrids will be among the first to scream “water please” with the first drooping of foliage.   

Don’t count on getting your clues from Endless Summer, however.  It’s foliage is almost always drooping during hot sunny days whether it has plenty water of not.  

Regarding garden plant mortality, more garden plants in our Northland likely die from lack of water than all of the other plant troubles  combined.  

August 2011 should be hot but  less wet.   We can probably expect a reduction   of our heavenly water supply as winter approaches   For those of you without automatic watering systems, you would do your grounds well by watering occasionally, but regularly, reducing the actual frequency after mid August, supplying some moisture weekly until October.

Your garden’s  soil type does matter.   More frequently and regularly water sandy soils until the evening temperatures drop below 45 degrees F.     Clay soils should never be allowed to dry and harden.  

Mulches can help retain moisture regardless of soil type.