Friday, July 3, 2009

The dog days of summer ...

I was wandering around this morning, feeling remiss for not having posted for a while, and looking for things of interest in the garden.

But since it was 104 yesterday and we're months into our summer, I had a hard time finding anything new to write about. And then I saw Tanner sprawled out in the sun and it hit me ... July 3rd or no, in Austin, Texas, it's the "Dog Days of Summer" already.

According to Wikipedia, the term "Dog Days" was used by the Greeks and the Romans (who called these days caniculares dies) after Sirius, the "Dog Star," Latin. The dog days of summer originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as sunrise, which is no longer true, because of the precession of the equinoxes.

Here's the icky part: The ancients sacrificed a brown dog (look out Tanner!) at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.

Dog days were popularly thought to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour , dogs grew mad and all creatures became languid, causing man to burn fevers, hysterics and phrensies" according to Brady's Clavis Calendarium, 1813.

I don't think my wine is sour and I'm not sure if the seas are boiling, but I will definitely be on the lookout for mad dogs and hysterics at my house!

But, I can see how the oppressive heat could make you believe in all those things, don't you?


Here are a few bright spots in the oppressive heat ... Esperanza.
Desert Rose
Duranta
Coneflowers
Pride of Barbados
The mixed pot by the front door with Mexican Heather, Rudbeckia, Hibiscus, Zinnias, Potato Vine and Snapdragons.


17 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

Your esperanza looks pleased as punch by the brutal weather, and the duranta looks pretty too. It's good to have these kinds of plants around for days (months) like this.

Diana said...

I have a few really tolerant plants, but most of mine are less conditioned than yours. I've vowed to use more agaves and grasses moving forward, especially in the wild areas where things just will not grow with the periodic watering can passing by.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I know that I aure get cranky when it get so darned hot. I wouldn't sacrifice a brown dog though. tee hee... Your garden looks exceptionallly good for such brutal temps and dry conditions. Hang in there. Summer is marching on through. A weather reprieve should be coming.

EAL said...

I thought you guys did get a little break in Austin, but in any case those plants look great. Love the esperanza! Always cool to learn about these exotic upper zone specimens.

Janet said...

Interesting write up on the Dog Days. .....my goodness when it is that hot, finding a cool spot is paramount! Love the blooms- Pride of Barbados is interesting.

Linda/patchwork said...

How interesting about the Dog Days of summer.
I love Esperanza and the Pride of Barbados.

Diana said...

Lisa -- Well, the brown dog ate 1/2 a blueberry pie on Friday, so he ALMOST got sacrificed! We've spent a lot of time in the pool as we had company Thurs-Sun from IN/IL. It was so nice to relax and enjoy my garden and not pull weeds or do anything to it but water!

EAL -- We did get some rain last week but it was fleeting. Might be more on the horizon, though, and I am keeping my fingers crossed. I hear summer hasn't gotten to you yet - any sign of it up there?

Janet - floating in the pool worked really well this weekend. I'm gonna have to do more of that even when we don't have company in town.

Linda -- The Esperanza are so reliable and full of blooms and the Pride of Barbados is in love with the heat. Gotta love that!

Linda/Central Texas Gardener said...

It's all looking pretty good, despite the record heat! Maybe Tanner thought he deserved blueberry pie for being so cooperative on his picture. . .

Diana said...

Linda/CTG -- I'm sure Tanner thinks he deserves a lot of things he shouldn't have! It's funny, because he's normally not the one who's up on the counter eating anything that even resembles food, but he was clearly guilty this time. Dakota was asleep in her bed and I caught him standing over the pie pan on the kitchen floor looking mighty guilty!

Frances said...

Gosh, Diana I didn't know they sacrificed a dog!!! Shame on them, but of course they also sacrificed people, vigins perhaps, so that just goes to show what sort they were. Not our sort! But seriously, save the wine!!!

Frances

Diana said...

Frances -- While I'm fascinated by the Romans, I admit I am glad I didn't live in those times for many reasons. And now I can add their dog sacrificing to the list! The wine is fine, but I'd better drink it up, just in case, don't you think?!

Layanee said...

Dog days indeed! Tucker says 'hey to Tanner and invites him over for a swim. We haven't even hit the 80's here in quite a while and it is, once again, pouring. I know the drought is coming.

Lori said...

Wow, your esperanza looks like it's going crazy! I just gave in and planted one-- everything else in that bed looked mostly dead already, and I figured that even though the yellow clashes with my color scheme, at least the plant is alive, and that's what counts. It's scary to me how burned out I am on gardening already this summer, and it's only the first week of July!

P.S. Did you see the chart MSS made over at Zanthan Gardens documenting the # of over 100 days since 2000? Scary stuff!

Diana said...

Layanee -- Tell Tucker thanks for the invite - we'd love to come for a swim! 104 today and 106 tomorrow. What is this, Phoenix?!!!!

Lori -- I'm glad you got Esperanza, it is such a happy plant and it loves the heat.I didn't see MSS's chart, but I have been following Jim Spencer's blog on KXAN and it's crazy. We're already ahead of last year and THAT's sad. Don't know quite how to wrap my head around it. I've been ignoring it but it's gettin' kinda hard!

Annie in Austin said...

If sacrificing Esperanza worked we'd think this was Seattle, Diana - I've killed quite a few of them!

Your white duranta is so unusual... I like my blue one but could find room for that cool white.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Diana said...

Annie -- I love that Duranta, too. It was a gift from dear friends on a sad occasion nearly 12 years ago and I still have it. Amazing for me. I have another one that's wild and shrub-like and about 8 feet tall and about to burst into bloom all over. Deep, deep purple. Wish the deer didn't eat them, I'd love to have more! Stay cool.

Gail said...

Diana, Is it still oppressive? I've been in Rhode Island visiting my son and stopped by to see Layanee. Beautiful weather up there! It was so hard to return home to humidity and heat....and the long, hot summer. I agree with everyone else...the esperanza is lovely. gail