Finding relief from the heat

It’s been pretty hot here lately – unpleasant enough that we gave the volunteers the week off – but this morning, even at dawn, the sun had a particularly malevolent look in its eyes. The dome of heat that has been covering so much of the country came to sit on Southern New Englad today. At almost 5pm, it’s 94.5 degrees in the potting shed and 101 outside and about as humid as it ever gets. It’s gross (though I know it’s been even worse elsewhere.) This is no time to be out in the sun gardening, that’s for sure. It’s simply not safe.

But I have to take just a moment here before I go home to stretch out in front of a fan to say how smart the Van Wickles and their landscape architect, John DeWolf were when they designed the Bosquet. It’s a natural air conditioner and was fully intended as such. Not only does the mansion get some delicious breezes off the water (except for today) but whenever the breeze blows from the north, it’s cooled by the Bosquet. And it’s the best place on the property find some relief from the heat. It was a perceptible couple of degrees cooler in there today – I could swear I even felt a breeze! – and on a day like this a couple of degrees can make a significant difference in comfort level.

Gardeners, like most people, tend to want what they don’t have – those with shady gardens often would love nothing better than to be able to grow anything under the sun that needs full sun. But during a heatwave, I’m sure everyone with their own natural air conditioner rediscovers a love for shade and all of the plants that thrive under it.

Do you appreciate the shady places in your garden? Do you ever wish you had more shade?

2 thoughts on “Finding relief from the heat

  1. I’m moving ever more towards a shade garden. We never experience the kind of humidity the east does, so on the hottest days, it is consistently 10 degrees cooler in the shade than in the sun; with a breeze, it can get to 15. However, a dry climate means that growing under shade is even more tricky as mature shade trees will take up most of the surface water. If you want other things to grow, you need to irrigate. I do wish I could have a bit more sun in some spots, but I’m growing more fond of the shady areas.

    Susan, No doubt about it – dry shade is about the trickiest of all. But I bet everyone on the eastern seaboard would trade the humidity for extra-extra dry shade challenges right now! -kris

  2. I have to admit I like full sun gardening the best. Although shade is starting to creep in a bit these days. Since we are watering and feeding the landscape plants the big shade trees seem to like it too. I have found an irrigation system is a good way to cool off too. Not playing under the sprinklers but the cool water seems to just add a freshness to the plants and air.

    DF, You’re right about the coolness of irrigation. It washes off the dust of drought and just knowing the plants aren’t as thirsty as I feel makes me feel less thirsty. (Does that make sense?) -kris

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