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Summer 2016 vs. Summer 2017


By Lori


I wrote this first part last autumn at this time… I thought the precis of 2017, by way of contrast, might prove interesting:

If insanity can be defined as repeating the same set of actions over and over again, expecting a different result…then this summer, for the gardeners in my area, was the very essence of it! From start to almost finish,this summer has fostered resignation. It started out cold and moist, then turned abruptly into a searing drought.

Late June and early July saw day after day of sun and wind and heat in the high twenties…sometimes low thirties. Huge cumulus clouds sailed by us…taking all the moisture from our forest and lakes…elsewhere.

We started austerity measures in the last weeks of July… No water goes down the drain! I saved kitchen water and liquids in a pail by the sink, and every evening the plants in the door-yard got their ration. We watched the level of the stream diminish and kept an eye on our well also. We started having shallow baths instead of showers and (the worst part), we flushed the toilet only when absolutely necessary.
The situation was quickly becoming critical. Shrubs that I’d planted in full/part sun started to wilt and dry, the minnows in the stream were caught in puddles, the crispy field was alive with grasshoppers and the pond had become a muddy mess and the County Fire Service declared a complete ban on campfires and fireworks! On some of the high ridges, bare of soil, the mighty oaks became stressed to the point of premature leaf fall. As a result we came to know another repercussion of lack of rain… tree failure!
Standing on my backdoor deck, I heard a crack and a crash near the forest edge, and looked up to see the top of a 50 ft. maple hanging broken but still suspended among the branches of other trees… within the week, in the same area, an ash spontaneously fell.
In late July we had one short period of moisture less than 2mm. which promptly evapourated.. but finally…in Mid-August received some rain… not enough to replenish but enough to save some crops (and gardens). ( 30 mms.) During the past week the same pattern of heat and wind has returned and things are beginning to dry out again.
I’ve spent days and days, with my trusty chainsaw in hand, cutting up the trees. The power company cut some trees on our property this summer also: ergo..lots of work. It’s been like a sauna most days so work had to be done in the early hours or after sunset. Since it pays to be alert and refreshed when working in the bush…that meant that late day work was spent doing other tasks.
As I may have mentioned before; I’m no spring chicken. I count all progress, no matter how little, to the good and some days I couldn’t do much… but part of the work that I planned for the stream area, pond and garden has begun. (2016 end)

Summer of 2017 began much as the last, with a very cold spring that delayed or killed fruit blossom and stressed, again, a forest thirsty for moisture. Happily the weather pattern seemed to shift and by mid May, we were getting plenty of rain and enough sunshine that the trees were fully leafed by the end of the month.
Just when we thought we were on the high road, I began to notice nests of the tent caterpillars and army worms. These related creatures, occur in nature, on a seven year cycle… and it appears that this year was the seventh… They defoliated some of my apple trees and most of the maples and wild cherry. Then came the Storm… and down came some very tall, but weakly rooted Aspen, on the hill. …again, lack of moisture started the process with shallow rooting, and then too much moisture loosened the soil and gravity pulled it downhill leaving our forest which is growing in shallow soil anyway, bare rooted on the hillside. (Just a note: this pic was taken in Sept. when less foliage made it better visible.)
Not to diminish the role of the wind, in any way though.. It was one of the most wicked storms I can remember. Everything shook, including the old house, and crash! Three large aspens in a tangle with smaller undergrowth of fir and beech.
June calmed a little. We had rain and sun and moderate warmth in lovely combination and the forest seemed to relax and drink deep. I was still fighting the dread caterpillars and still finding broken trees and limbs on the ground.

Garden flowers thrived and grew tall… blossoming beautifully. We had a few storms with high winds but the hollyhocks still stood against it.

Temps remained in “seasonable” range most of July, but in late August they became hot and dry, just in time for hurricane season to the south.
All these changes came in what is a matter of days. Our seasons are mercurial…(the only one that drags it’s feet is winter!)
September, with storm after storm, confused some plants and since trees had only just regained full leaf again in August after the predation of the caterpillars… the turn of colours and the drop of the leaves has been later this summer than usual.
I’m sitting at my computer looking out at almost bare trees… across the road a gorgeous orange maple is flaming her last.

Will continue with the Autumn story soon. I think I’ll wait til the snow flies to write that one.

More blog posts by Lori

Previous post: *Forest 2017*

Next post: Deep in November, it's nice to remember....



What a fascinating blog Lori - its a great idea to record whole seasons like that! I'm lost in admiration at the huge tasks you undertake- attagirl!

16 Oct, 2017


I really enjoyed your blog Lori, brought to life by your amazing photos. It's interesting to see how other parts of the world cope with their gardens and the things nature puts in our way.

17 Oct, 2017


Its always a treat to see your Forest Garden Lori. You had a nice June at least. Your alceas are just heavenly, I love them. I must have more of them next year. My yellow ones are in bud but its too late for them to flower. My red ones failed miserably. But these peachy ones are just perfect! I hope the winter doesn't come too soon for you this year. Some respite would be great wouldn't it. :)

17 Oct, 2017


Thanks Stera, Thorneyside and Karen. This summer was amazingly productive for me when working in the forest..but I did so little in the flower gardens. I was coasting on the perennials...they seem to carry the flower beds...and the biennials (alcea) have established themselves enough that they reseed each season. That clump of peachy ones grew in a very stony area that I'm trying to reclaim from an old driveway! Amazing things they seem to thrive in dry sandy soil and lots of heat. a mat of creeping jenny underneath them seems to help with the rust when planted in the foundation beds near the house or in the transfer bed beside the barn.
Winter arrived as it always does, around the middle of Nov., with a cold snap and snow. Then it got warm again and the snow disappeared... then a week or so of very cold (-20's) then moderation and more snow, then four days of plus temps (+3) and now on the 21st. Dec. (solstice) it's getting brrrr....cold again.

21 Dec, 2017


Very up and down then Lori, temp. wise. Here its milder now and windy today. We certainly won't be having a white Christmas. At least the Solstice has passed. :) I am starting to get gardening grief know that feeling when all you want to do is look at photos of beautiful gardens in summer time!

23 Dec, 2017


so true, Karen. I've had cabin fever... my snowblower is broken down.. the wood stove is lovely heat but requires constant tending. We are going to Ottawa for Christmas Day, I just hope our kitty and the budgies don't get too cold with just a heater to keep them warm.
I was dreading this winter, I admit. Sadly, from the long range forecasts we've seen, it looks like it's going to be an Arctic one. (Hub gives me updates every day, in anticipation of the drive on Christmas Day.)
Seed catalogues and gardening books will see lots of use and I've still tasks to do in the kitchen.. (cupboards and flooring) I've been working at this so long I'm ashamed. Also there's the possibility of cataract surgery in the new year. Life continues to be interesting, at least. Roll on Spring! :-)

23 Dec, 2017 are doing your own kitchen Lori? You are my hero! Enjoy your christmas, the cats will find the heat! I need to buy myself a new gardening book.....or borrow some!

24 Dec, 2017

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