Is it hot enough for you?

It’s a hot day.  It might be the hottest day of the year, although no one knows that yet.
So instead of working in my garden, I’m seeking brief shelter in my cool house.  We aren’t using an air conditioner; the house is cool because last year we were able to fix the roof and have new (not more) insulation put in.

Of course, the heat means I’m thinking about my plants.  We watered yesterday, but the soil just soaked it up.  With so little rain this month, and so much sun, I worry about a drought.  I also think about the animals — the deer were in the yard this morning, once again munching on hosta flowers and begonia leaves.

Heaving a deep sigh.

My aruncus is doing well. I bought a new one this year, with very lacy leaves, that only gets about 24 inches tall; I’m watching it as it settles in.  Coral bells are not so happy, though.  Neither is the terrestrial orchid. They both want more water as well as the shade under the redbud.  The buddelia is coming into bloom.  The indefatigable daisies bloom and rebloom.  The ajuga will stand up to anything.  But all the spring bloomers have crept back into the soil, hoping to wait out the season.

My goal, when I started this process of eliminating grass and planting other things, was to hold the water in the soil through deep roots, and create a much cooler yard.  Of course, it was also to decrease the amount of maintenance the yard would require.  I didn’t want to fertilize or use herbicides to get that perfect green lawn.  The amount of water it seemed to need was excessive.

And actually, the yard IS cooler, with a tall maple shading it and enough different shades of green to rest the eyes and the mind.  We average about 5 degrees cooler than the official temperature in summer, and about 4 degrees warmer in winter.  I haven’t used chemical fertilizer or herbicide in years.  The yard stays many shades of green.

There’s a fine line, unfortunately, between well-grown and overgrown.  I have passed that line already.  Walking the path to the front door requires dodging those plants that are leaning out for love, and it’s just too hot and dry to eliminate the unwanted plants.

I firmly believe in climate change.  There’s only so much I can do alone, but I’m trying to do my bit.  Broader green leaves, many shades of green, water and trees, very little hardscape. What’s your recommendation to help cool the yard and, by extension, cool the earth?

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