The June Garden: Challenges and Opportunities

Heat dome, heat warnings, high temperaturesEvery night on the 6:00 news, I hear a segment about wild weather in various places around the country. Right now, the problems are flooding in the West and a ginormous heat bubble that started on the West Coast and moved east.

Yet, here we sit in the Northeast, with pleasant temperatures and humidity. A few parts of New England have drought conditions but where we live, the ponds and reservoirs are full and there are no watering restrictions. We have had no wildfires, no mudslides, and no flooding. Any tornadoes that occur tend to be small and regionalized, causing little damage.

In short, we have enjoyed a very nice summer so far and all those disasters seem very far away. The June garden is responding in kind: lush and green with a proliferation of blooms.

Honey, I Shrunk the Lilies

daylily, hemerocallis, short scape, June garden

Daylily with short scape

The biggest problem so far is that the daylilies have short stems. Blooms that usually tower a foot or so above the other garden plants now lurk inside the foliage as if afraid to come out.

The culprit: A late cold snap that retarded the growth of the stems, or scapes. I will try cutting the scapes when the flowers have gone by to see if I can get them to rebloom.

My second challenge in the June garden comes from the artemisia Silver King that I bought at a plant sale last year. When I acquired it, the plant was still small and I sort of assumed it would grow in a short, neat clump like artemisia Silver Mound. It doesn’t.

Artemesia Silver King, June garden, daylilies

Silver King among the daylilies

This year I have two-foot-tall artemisia everywhere. And I mean everywhere. This stuff spreads like Evening Primrose or Moonbeam Coreopsis. I have already dug out and filled four pots with it, which I gave away on my town’s Buy Nothing Facebook page. I could do that and more all over again.

The Birdfeeder Crowd

I put up a birdfeeder in the fall and take it down again in the spring. This spring,  however, our next-door neighbors put up two industrial-size birdfeeders in their backyard.

Now birds of all kinds and sizes zoom by our living room windows all day. That’s fine: I like birds. Along with the birds, however, have come an army of squirrels and chipmunks. They stop first at the birdfeeder for dinner or a snack, then come over to my garden for a drink at the water dish I keep filled for the wildlife.

They race around the yard like little furry particles in the Large Hadron Collider , going to and from the feeders, chasing one another, popping in and out of holes, and generally using the retaining wall as a racecourse. Ditto the red squirrel who has also taken up residence.

Fearless Chipmunks

Chipmunk, perennials, June garden

Chipmunk on the wall

The squirrels keep a wary distance but the chipmunks are fearless. When I am sitting on the back deck, they practically run over my feet. When I’m working in the June garden, they stick their heads through the foliage and check to make sure it’s me before zipping off again.

Sometimes, the chipmunks pop up out of a hole in the lawn and look startled to see me. Then they seem to think, “Oh, it’s just her,” before going about their business. They treat me the same way I imagine they would treat a cow or a horse; as it I’m harmless but they take care not to get stepped on.

The chipmunks are amusing but heedless. Some day an observant hawk will discover them and treat the chipmunk raceway like the songbirds treat my neighbor’s birdfeeders..

Dividing the Lilies

My next job in the June garden is to divide the two big clumps of Stella de Oro lilies I had my husband hoick out. The plot where they were growing has grown too shady for them to bloom with their usual abandon and the two clumps had pretty much taken over the space.

Stella de Oro Lilies, perennials, June garden

Stella de Oro Lilies

But I don’t have enough pots. I have to reach out to my gardening buddies to see if they can donate any. We’re having a neighborhood garden tour next week and perhaps some visitors will take pots of golden lilies away. If not, I will put up another post on the Buy Nothing Facebook page and people will come to get them.

That makes perennial gardening fun. We like to share the beauty so others can enjoy it, too. This year, the June garden makes that easy.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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