A green space for urban gardeners

Mid-July garden follies: wind, rain, heat and the master plan

I started Saturday with a plan. You see, I knew the forecast  predicted scattered thunderstorms, which I was actually looking forward to because I hoped they’d take some of the sting out of the blistering heat we’ve been experiencing. I was also hoping to save myself from the grueling task of watering my container plants under the sweltering sun. And lets not forget how beneficial rainwater is to developing plants. And mine, delayed as they are, need all the help they can get (smile).

So, I crafted what I thought was an ingenious scheme: I’d keep watching the skies and when they grew overcast — the dark before the storm — I’d pop outside and do some of the miscellaneous maintenance that I was loath to tackle under the full midday sun. I clicked off a few photos of some fresh blooms I wanted to show you and then began filling in potting soil where it had settled around my various seedlings in their peat pouches.

After that my plan was to toss in a few more seeds for good measure — for instance the sugar snap peas, though quick to sprout, hadn’t survived and I was going to toss a few more in the pot to see if direct sowing would produce better results.

Finally, I wanted to do some cleanup, getting rid of miscellaneous supplies like cracked pots, peat pouches with withered stems sticking out of them, an extra bag of potting soil, etc.

This would help turn my deck back into the relaxing oasis it was created to be.

I got a couple photos and then my camera battery went dead, which wound up being a blessing in disguise since I immediately took the camera inside. Then I started troweling soil and filling in around my seedlings. I got one planter done and in the span of moments it took me to turn back to the container of potting soil a wicked wind blew in from the west, sending much of the soil I’d just distributed flying — right into my eyes!

While most people would do what my cat did and beat a stealthy retreat inside, I decided to continue working and try to beat the clock on the impending showers. No such luck, in another couple minutes pounding raindrops hitched a ride on that wind, blowing furiously in at a 45 degree angle and battering the side of my face. As I turned to run inside, the winds toppled two of my tomato plants, my lemon cucumber and my geranium.

Usually I anchor my tomato plants by attaching the wire hoops to the balcony rail, but I hadn’t yet gotten around to it. In fact, I was out of the zip ties I traditionally use for this purpose. So, first — like an idiot — I righted and then just stood there trying to hold the hoops while squinting and bowing my head against the onslaught of rain.

I guess I was thinking that the wind would subside just as quickly as it had started and my containers would be OK. Ha!  I was completely drenched seconds later. And the wind was still on. So I grabbed the garbage bag I’d brought out for cleanup and used it to temporarily anchor my tomato hoops to the balcony. And then I clustered a few pots that I didn’t want to tip over (like my giant sunflower, which has just gotten a huge bud on the top of its long stem) together in hopes they’d offer each other support.

Once safely inside I dried off and within a half-hour the rain had passed, leaving me a brief window before the heat was back in full force to appreciate the blooms that had erupted over the past week. Lobelia crystal palace, marigold citrus and  my very first “black” blossom — black viola  — all made an appearance.

I thought it was a remarkable bit of synchronicity that gave me a bloom from each of the colors chosen for my garden palette: blue, orange and black.

I love it when a plan starts to come together.

[Photos: lobelia crystal palace under the ominous skies (top), marigold citrus and black viola (dig the yellow eye!)]


  mimi wrote @

Sounds like the rain storms we get here. Fast and furious.

  Wendy wrote @

I definitely like the color palette. Sounds like you got a lot done!

I might let you know that I love this sentence: No such luck, in another couple minutes pounding raindrops hitched a ride on that wind, blowing furiously in at a 45 degree angle and battering the side of my face.

  City Diggity wrote @

Thanks Wendy,

I just hope I wind up with a nice distribution of those colors. Another blue bloom opened since that post.

Thanks, too, for the thumbs up on that sentence. It was all true 😉

  Cassandra wrote @

Great post, Avis. Your balcony sounds like it’s huge. How many plants do you have out there?

  City Diggity wrote @

It’s only 5 x 12, but I do squeeze a lot of plants onto it. I have planters attached to the railing all the way around and I fill those plus I have some sitting on the deck.

  Andrea wrote @

I liked this line, myself:

While most people would do what my cat did and beat a stealthy retreat inside


  City Diggity wrote @

He was gone like a shot! 😉

  linda wrote @

Sorry to have a giggle at your expense Avis, but I can really picture the situation. Ah, the best laid plans. . . !

Wish we could have gotten some of that rain here – things are getting really dry – might have to water again tomorrow morning before the 100+ heat index sets in. Almost 9:00 p.m. now, and it’s still 86 degrees. Ugh!

  City Diggity wrote @

I’m happy for you to have a giggle at my expense! 😉 I’m still hoping for rain so I don’t have to water tonight… This heat is really wiping me out! I can only hope it accelerates the development of my plants.

  Pam’s English Garden wrote @

Avis, I felt I was right on that balcony next to you experiencing the vagrancy of a Chicago summer day. Love that viola; it has such a sweet face! Pam x

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