Wanted: one real hammock; with trees

Janice Wells
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There’s nothing like a hot spell with little water to show you how tough and easygoing some garden plants are.

Containers are the most demanding in times like this and I didn’t plant any this year, so you’d think that would be one thing I wouldn’t have to worry about.

But you’d be wrong because I got off to my usual enthusiastic start in the spring and bought five lovely lilacs, two PG hydrangeas, and two bagged roses, all of which still haven’t gotten planted.

Even worse, I bought two more lilacs as a housewarming gift for my nephew and then girlfriend, now wife, and they’re still out in my back garden, surviving in spite of me.

At the rate I’m going, Nephew and Wife may be into their second house by the time I get their lilacs to them.

The thing is that every one of these potted plants has been pretty sorry looking more than once since they came home with me.

Some of them are here in St. John’s and some of them are in Heart’s Content, so one lot or the other is always out of my sight for days at a time.

Every one of them has had droopy dead-looking leaves and every one has jumped right back when I’ve finally noticed, smacked myself upside the head, and given them a good drink.

Not only that, but one of the roses bloomed and I have some potted larch that haven’t lost their lush green look once.

Go figure.

As for the permanent inhabitants, actually planted in the garden, it’s interesting to observe how different ones respond to benign, but considerable, neglect.

The hollyhocks, magnificent last summer, are much shorter this year, with the exception of one in the front.

The various clematis flowers are smaller and not as prolific, maybe as much as not having been trained properly on supports in the spring as being thirsty.

Blooms aren’t lasting as long on the roses and didn’t seem to last any time with the peonies. The astilbe flowers are small, as are most of other varieties. The climbing honeysuckle that finally, enthusiastically, came into its flower-covered scent-filled own two years ago, just in time for Daughter No. 2’s mid August wedding, is distinctly half-hearted this year. This, of course, could just be shame because, horror of horrors, white bindweed flowers are showing their faces high amidst its foliage.

But for gardeners who’ve been watering diligently and who don’t have to stay out of the sun, July must have been a gift. And don’t think I’m complaining because I’m not; even the extremes of temperature made me notice something quite important as I tried to hove off on the deck in Heart’s Content.

I need more shade.

A shade roof is already planned for part of the deck, but I think two medium-sized trees, strategically placed just the right distance apart for a hammock, would be divine.

I picked up one of those free-standing ones at the annual Georgetown yard sale, and it has an attachable canopy that unfortunately no one has figured out how to put together yet, but it doesn’t swing like a real hammock would and nothing can duplicate a canopy of green leaves and rustling branches.

A quick search for Zone 4 fast growing deciduous trees led me to weeping willow, some maples (not the dreaded Norway), eastern redbud and Bing cherry.

Height aside, I don’t think any of them will give me what I need fast enough; enough strength to hold me up.

I’ll figure it out, just like I’ll figure out where to put the clothesline.

My days of basking in hot sun may be over, but combine the sun with the lovely breeze off the water and it will be clothesline heaven.

In fact, I’ll never have enough laundry to take advantage of every “nice day on clothes.”

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. Her latest book, “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts,” was published in October 2010 by MacIntyre

Purcell Publishing Inc. You can reach her at

janicew@nf.sympatico.ca. Note to readers: please do not send thumbnail-size photographs, as they are too small to publish.

Organizations: MacIntyre Purcell Publishing

Geographic location: Georgetown, Norway

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