|A Limelight hydrangea in our front yard this week.|
These are the "Dog Days" of summer, a term that goes back to the ancient Romans. That was the period during which the world came under the spell of the "dog star," Sirius -- the brightest star in the constellation of Canus Major ("large dog", now known as the Big Dipper). The Romans made sacrifices to Sirius to appease it's rage and lessen the intense heat and humidity of the Roman August.
The dog days have pursued us down the centuries. As late as the 19th Century someone could write that:
"the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures grew languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."
Fortunately, our plants do not have phrensies. But for many gardeners this is a dead time in the year. The problem lies not in our plants, however, but in us.. There are many plants of all sorts that thrive during the "dog days."
|Our Black-eyed Susan's today.|
Perennial lovers know this better than the rest of us. Among our native plants we can include cone flowers, black-eyed Susan's, and Shasta daisies. We can add as well Russian sage and Japanese anemone.
Summer loving shrubs are less familiar to some. Rose of Sharon became "old fashioned"about the same time as ranch houses became popular and deserves to be brought back. There are many hydrangea that thrive in August from the sun-loving paniculata (like "Limelight") to shade loving quercifolia (oakleaf).
My friend Pauline gave me two butterfly bushes this spring. They are only now getting settled in their new "digs." Nevertheless,they have already brought new butterflies. And we now have hummingbirds in our yard for the first time.Thanks, Pauline.
More on"Dog Days" at another time. I am growing "languid."