August – we all sweltered

One of the biggest joys of expat life in Istria is the wonderful climate for outdoor life.  However, while this is great most of the year, the final few weeks of high summer are always a challenge in the garden – for plants and gardener alike. This year, with temperatures soaring in Istria into the high 30s and not a drop of rain, things were particularly tough. Luckily for the garden, and the fields and forests around us, we had a cool week at the end of July with plenty of rain, so everything went into the blistering heat well prepared.

Cosmos in AugustComing off the back of a cooler, rainy week, August started with the garden looking magnificent. Some of the big show-stoppers were at their peak: the campsis and cosmos put on a particularly good show.

Campsis with seed pods in garden in IstriaAs the month passed and the temperatures ramped ever higher, more and more of the plants began to look tired and worn down by the heat – like me! By the end of the month, seed pods had replaced many flower heads and, even with the irrigation system set high, everything looked in need of a good drink.

 

Gardening in fast forward

It never ceases to amaze me how well and fast things grow in Istria – when they want to. In early May, I put in a new bed in the front garden: by early August it had matured spectacularly.

Dry (dead?) grass in new flower bedWhile the plants in the new bed have loved the hot weather, others have struggled. In early June, I created a small bed next to the Little House and one of the last things I did before the heat really started was transplant some lovely, feathery grass. It had looked magnificent in the front garden, but I killed most of it by dividing and transplanting it, just as high summer got started. By August most was looking like straw – hopefully it will shoot again in the autumn.

 

Too hot to work

With everything hunkered down and in survival mode, it wasn’t a month for great gardening exploits. In high summer, my aim is always to get as much done as possible before it gets too hot: for most of August, that meant finishing before 10 am. As the weather got ever hotter, I got into the garden earlier and earlier, trying and beat the heat (8 am, 7 am, 6.30 am) – with limited success. Whoever said gardening is a gentle pastime, never battled with high 30°C temperatures – it’s hot, sweaty and exhausting!

Nicky weeds water featureOn the up-side, as it was so hot, I took the opportunity to give the water feature its annual tidy. It ought to be done more often, but can be a cold, slippery job, so tends to get put off until the summer. While it was refreshing, paddling in the cool – if murky – water, it was also rather nerve-racking. Standing thigh-high among lily pads and pond weed, I’m never sure of my footing, what’s going to climb up my legs, or if I’m going to slip and get an unwanted dunking. So I’m always glad to get it finished and clamber safely back onto dry land  🙂

Excitement over, it was back on with the ever-needed weeding and wisteria trimming.

 

Looking towards Autumn

Orange pyracantha berries bring a splash of colour to the gardenFinally, in the last few days of the month, temperatures turned suddenly cooler (high 20s, not 30s) – what a contrast! At last, gardening has reverted back to being a pleasure.

Parthenocissus going red at the start of AutumnAutumn colours have now started appearing. For the last few weeks of August, the pyracantha’s been a splash of orange at the bottom of the garden. Then, at the end of the month, the first touches of gold started appearing in the woods, leaves were blowing down the lane and the parthenocissus began turning purple.

With summer waning, I began to think about September and the coming Autumn.

 

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