Crispy, Fried Plants!
Jeanne DeBenedetti Keyes
No, these are not fried green tomatoes, but plants that turned into withered, brown stems after the first hot spell of the summer in Portland, Oregon. It was a scorcher! My garden endured temperatures that soared to 102 degrees Fahrenheit after weeks of cloudy, mild weather with temperatures in the mid 60’s.
No plant was safe from the rays of the hot summer sun. Delicate treasures such as this once lovely, large mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum, right photo) didn’t stand a chance. PNW native, darmera (Darmera peltata, below left) suffered a similar fate. I was so proud of these large, luscious leaves, and amazed at how big they were. Even older and well-established native plants such as this flowering current (Ribes sanguineum, below right) were not immune from danger.
As conscientious gardeners, we try to take care of our charges, making sure they get enough water, nutrients and sunlight, yet I blithely went on vacation naively assuming that since the soil was moist the plants would manage.
Not so! As you can see, most of this damage is from sunlight on leaves that really need more shade. I am always surprised at how fast the summer weather in Portland can change from the cool, cloudy days of June to scorching hot with drying East winds. I have tried putting up shade cloths or umbrellas but invariably I miss a plant or two. Nothing but shade from either trees or the house will really protect these delicate beauties. This happy hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla, below photo) is a well- established plant that gets very little water but lives in the shadow of the house. It sailed through the untimely hot spell with flying colors!
I see another medium to large tree in my future!