By Linda Vater
My tiny potager got off to a great start this year. As always, in late winter I did my initial garden prep and cleanup. I dug a hefty dose of compost into each quadrant of the boxwood border. I removed debris, resecured and fortified the climbing roses canes, then tidied up the paths surrounding the space and filled the planters with fresh potting soil.
The ‘Zepherine Drouhin’ and ‘Climbing Old Blush’ roses on the arbor entering the potager were spectacular, but high wind and unseasonably warm temperatures made them short-lived again this year. After their all too brief bloom, I cut them back hard (a daunting chore, I might add), then again reattached wayward canes.
The chards, dill and cut lettuce I plant each spring bolted quickly because of the early heat. Consequently, the basil seed (Purple Ruffles, Thai, and sweet basil) that I plant to replace the greens went in much earlier than usual. Thank heavens for basil, zinnias and sunflowers in this part of the country. They take our heat in stride and perform beautifully until first frost. The orange and yellow ‘Bright Lights’ cosmos did well also, and the color really stood up to the harsh summer sun.
The ‘Wee Be Little’ pumpkins I planted in the center ring of boxwood did well until late June, when they succumbed to the drought, pests, and days on end of 100-degree temperatures. They never had a chance to climb the bamboo teepee before it cooled down to a mild 100 degrees.
I pulled out the pumpkins and installed Ms. Scarecrow who seemed oblivious to the heat.
The potager has been part of my garden home for almost 20 years. In that time I’ve gotten away with only hand-watering the herbs, flowers and veggies in each section. Other than pruning, the boxwood border received little attention. But the past two summers have been extremely rough on it, the heat and drought damaging sections of its green expanse.
Before next summer arrives I’ll figure out a way to install drip line around the boxwood border, hopefully inconspicuous enough not to detract from the beauty and clean lines of the clipped border. And anything I want to grow within it will definitely be screened for drought and heat tolerance!