The lawn has been dead for a long while. Now even large trees are being affected by this summer’s drought. This is what several nearby birches look like: the leaves all dead and yellow, even though autumn is still far away.

Our cherry tree is still green but all the leaves are wilting, and the cherries themselves have dried on the tree. The new hedge only survives (mostly) because of diligent watering. The flowers on the deck are dead; I gave up trying to keep them alive.

The ugly electrical cabinets at our street corner have bothered us for a long while. A neighbour (who also has an electrical cabinet) has prettified theirs with an oilcloth cover. We now have the same. They definitely look more cheerful this way. And the white-and-green colours match the dogwood bushes.

Well, now they’re all in the ground, including the half-dead ones. Although I ended up throwing out about half of the bare-rooted Spireas that looked completely dead, and buying replacements (potted!) from a nearby garden centre at about four times the price.

Meanwhile Adrian and Ingrid built “bj├Ârkspirea kingdom” from all the black plastic flowerpots, which is why there are pots lying around everywhere in the photos.

I’ve been calling this a hedge but what I have in mind is not a traditional hedge, i.e. a straight line of identical bushes. And definitely not a clipped hedge. This is going to be a mixed flowering hedge, with multiple species, wider in some places and narrower in others. In my mind I have a vision of natural, undulating shapes and lines, and a variety of leaf and flower, texture and colour. Like most of the rest of the garden.

I was aiming for a hedge of medium height, waist-high or a bit more, until I realized that there are regulations about hedges next to street crossings. Which appears rather obvious, now that I think about it. Most people around here seem to ignore the regulations, and there are many places where hedges have me fuming about bad visibility. I will be a good member of society and try not to add to the problem.

We’re limited to a height of 80 cm within 10 metres of the crossing, which, taken strictly, would cover most of the planned hedge except for a few metres nearest the entrance stairs. But I’m going to interpret this limit a bit loosely and dot the hedge with some slightly taller bushes here and there, which might reach a metre in height. Since this won’t be a uniform hedge and there will be gaps between the taller bushes, I’m hoping that they won’t hinder much. And I also have room for a bunch of taller bushes near the entrance.

In no particular order (since they’re mostly mixed up anyway):

  • Spirea cinerea “Grefsheim”
  • Ribes sanguineum “King Edward VII”
  • Weigela florida “Alexandra”
  • Spirea betulifolia “Tor”
  • Potentilla fruticosa “Pink Beauty”
  • Spirea japonica “Froebelii”
  • Mahonia aquifolium “Maqu”
  • Aronia melanocarpa “Hugin”
  • Viburnum bodnantense “Charles Lamont”

I decided that this summer the third and last section of the hedge will get planted, come what may. I dug the trench, weeded, spread fresh soil on top and ordered bushes.

And waited.

And waited.

And by the time it was time for us to fly to Austria, I still hadn’t gotten all the bushes, even though I’d left a ten-day margin beyond the estimated delivery date, just in case there were delays. I just wasn’t prepared for delays of this magnitude.

Now we’re back and I’ve also finally received all the bushes I ordered. Some are near death after waiting here for a week, even though I put them in the shade. Some are near death for no visible reason – I’m guessing the garden centre used different suppliers for different species and some were faster than others, so the ones they got early were left lying around somewhere for a week or so, while they waited for the rest. And finally some are near death because I got sold bare-rooted plants instead of potted ones. I thought I was so careful when I double-checked my orders but somehow I still missed this. Who on earth delivers bare-rooted plants in July?!

Luckily I also have some bushes that have not languished without water, and they’re looking strong and green. I also hope that the near-death ones will revive, given time and water. So I’m going to plant them all and hope for the best. But the planting is far from the joyful task I had been looking forward to.

Picking this year’s puny strawberry harvest.

Southern Sweden is suffering from drought; it’s been hot and dry since early May with no change in sight. But we got one bowl of small strawberries at least, enough for one luxurious breakfast with yoghurt and cereal and fresh strawberries.

Martagon lily.

Much of what I have planted, I have chosen for the plants’ ability to be green, fill space and survive without cosseting. There aren’t many with eye-catching flowers. The aquilegias and alliums that I did plant have basically disappeared. Surprisingly, martagon lilies seem to be among the survivors.

The black-leaved elder (‘Black Beauty’) is flowering in pink. The blossoms are brightest when they just open, and then fade towards a softer, creamy pink.

The aquilegias didn’t like this place any better than the Slope (a.k.a. The Slope Previously Known As The Slope Of Weeds). Almost all have disappeared. The white bleeding hearts likewise; I planted a white one here and now I cannot even find it. The Polygonatum and Brunneras and Lamiums are hanging on but far from thriving.

Lady’s mantle is in great shape; so are the new Bergenias that I bought last year. And the Galium is spreading like a weed. It’s hemmed in by the house and the steel edging that separates the flowerbed from the lawn, otherwise I’d worry about it taking over the whole garden.

During the warm days of summer, we keep the glass doors towards the deck and garden open all day long, and well into the evening, too.

The garden is clearly outdoors, and the living room is clearly indoors, but the deck in between is neither, a no man’s land that melds the indoors and the outdoors into one.

In the evenings they separate again. The later it gets, the darker and cooler it is outside, and the less we cross that threshold. The doors no longer feel like the doors they are during the day, but more like a giant window or balcony. We do not go out; we let the outside leak in. The chilly evening air, the light breeze. The song of the blackbirds. The smell of everything green.

This is what most of our lawn looks like. Dry and dead. The parts I didn’t mow are doing somewhat better, but I do hope we get rain soon.