According to news and weather reports, this past July was the third hottest month of July in France in 100 years. The only two other months of July that were warmer occurred in 1983 (I missed that one, because I moved back to the U.S. in August 1982) and 2006 (that one I remember — CHM was visiting, and he and I toured all around the region).
Who would have predicted such a fine summer after all the rain and gray skies we suffered through in the spring, including June? In fact, we were completely waterlogged for the first five months of 2013, and we thought we might not have a summer at all. I heard on one recent weather report that this summer — July and August combined, and the summer weather continues even now — has landed in the top five in French records-keeping history.
Coleus plants on a window ledge
The plants out on the deck — I can't stop using that term, but I think what we have is not a deck but more exactly a terrace or a balcony — have been having a great summer, especially on the north side of the house. Sort of by chance I put plants out on the north side that love the bright indirect light they get there. (Our high temperature is supposed to approach 90ºF today.)
This one doesn't mind the morning sun, and it gets shade the rest of the day.
The coleus plants in the pictures here are ones that I got at a plant nursery in May or June of 2012. They grew really well last year on the same window ledge. I brought them in for the winter. They got very leggy but survived. Three months ago I took cuttings and rooted them in water. Those I potted up in long window boxes and placed outside the north-facing living room window. I didn't know whether coleus plants were annuals or not, but it turns out that they over-winter just fine — indoors.
The kalanchoe plants above are ones that were here when we moved into this house 10 years ago. The previous owner left them behind, in pots. I've worked with them all this time, repotting them as necessary, and succeeding in getting blooms every summer — some years more, some years less. This year has been moderately successful.
Zebrina, the inch plant
Finally, the zebrina plant in the photo just above is one that I pinched from a planter box in the town of Luynes on the Loire river west of Tours several summers ago. It was a big plant and was obviously happy outdoors, so I took just one little branch. I coddled it and have turned it into several potted plants — six or seven — of which this one is the best-looking right now. It enjoys being under the summer sky but not in direct sunlight. I've heard it called an "inch plant" — because it grows fast, I guess.