Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Anomalous Summer

My gardens stand today as a mere shadow of their former selves.  Heat, draught, the wind that almost always follows draught, and insects which increase in virulence with hot weather have taken their toll. 

The flower featured here is Monkshood – Latin name Aconitum napellus.  The bloom should be larger and a very deep purple.  Its reduced size and faded color are, in my experience, the results of heat stress. 

A word of caution, Monkshood should not be planted in gardens where children or plant eating pets play.  It contains a powerful alkaloid poison that was used in earlier times as a sedative and antispasmodic.  In combination with Belladonna, also identified as Deadly Nightshade, Monkshood was used topically in ointments to treat skin injuries and ailments.  Under no circumstances are either of these substances recommended for use by the untrained. 

To return to the discussion of the garden, I have received a number of emails from gardeners who follow my blog or my Facebook page asking me what they have done wrong.  They have followed my advice or the advice of their local gardening professionals.  They have planted appropriately, watered, fed and protected from insects and disease.  Yet, their gardens look as if they have been neglected and allowed to burn up in triple digit heat for two full seasons. 

I answer them in a word – nothing.  You have done nothing.  The season is anomalous and excessive – excessive heat, excessive dry, no spring and excessive summer.  This is apparently happening all over the world if my correspondence is anything to go by. 

Whether we in our stupendous arrogance believe in Climate Change or not is irrelevant.  It is what it is.  No amount of name calling, proselytizing or pontificating from delusional partisan hacks or contribution whoring politicians will make it into something else.

Most evenings of this brutal summer I stand in my gardens at sunset when the light is less harsh and the damage less visible.  I hear my grandmother’s voice sailing out of the West on the swelling red-gold light filling the Rocky Mountain sky.  “Little one," she reminds me, “A gardener proposes, but Mother Nature disposes.   She is in charge.  If you forget, let Her remind you.”

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