“How long can you tread water?”

Maybe, instead of gardening, I should be building a boat.

Just mere days ago, the temperature was 82 degrees, the sun was shining bright, and the forecast as far as the eye could see was for sunny days with temps in the mid to upper 70s. Summer had arrived. Then overnight the temperature dropped, the clouds moved in, and the showers returned. Now when I look at the weather forecast, all I see are gray skies and raindrops with temps in the lower 60s.

All this rain reminds me of the time (many years ago) my older brother came home with the new Bill Cosby album entitled, Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow. Right! One of my favorite routines on the album was Mr. Cosby’s interpretation of the conversations between God and Noah regarding building the arc. Noah, in his frustration with the whole concept of building a giant boat in the middle of the desert began to complain to God. Noah goes on and on and God listens silently until we suddenly hear thunder and the rain begins. During our seemingly endless weeks of rain and remembering this routine I ask myself,  “How long can you tread water?”

Fortunately for my garden plants, they seem to love this weather.

With a steady supply of moisture and occasional sun breaks to slightly warm the soil and encourage photosynthesis, my conifers and Japanese maples all look fantastic. The fresh and colorful new foliage continues to grow in its lush exuberance filling my garden with an inspirational prosperity of color.

The bright blues of my Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’ have never looked better. My Picea abies ‘Fat Cat’ sports a vibrant bright green fur and the variegated foliage of Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘White Pygmy’ is an absolute delight. Complementing my conifers, the deep reds and bright greens of my Acer palmatum ‘Rhode Island Red’ and A.p. ‘Hogyoku’ are a sight to behold. Even though we are mid-way through the last month of spring, (and it feels more like mid-April) I am enjoying all the spring-time beauty of my garden while I can.

Acer palmatum 'Rhode Island Red'
Acer palmatum ‘Rhode Island Red’

Before too long, summer will arrive, and we will be contending with an instant change to hot summer sunshine with temperatures in the mid-80s to upper-90s. That sudden change of the sun’s intensity can tend to sunburn some plants before their soft new foliage has abundant time to harden and become more able to protect itself. I need to think about which of my smaller, more tender plants I may want to provide a little shade until they are ready to fend for themselves. I look for plants that have soft new growth or very lightly colored foliage. Many of my yellow or gold colored conifers can be particularly sensitive to the sudden change from the natural shade of thick gray clouds to the power of pure sunshine.

May your garden thrive and provide you and yours a peaceful oasis this year.

Conifer Lover

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