After a few extended heat spells I was able to get back into the yard and tidy up. The heat has scorched the grass and sun-facing plants, but shaded areas are lush and happy. That includes the hydrangeae and lilies that sit against the north slope by our driveway. The lilies are between blooms for the most part but a bouquet of the former for our table was effortless!
A quick mowing of the upper yard was useful as well. Right against the house the grass is green and about 4" tall, while the rest of the lawn is toasty brown and gone to seed (except for the dandelion of course). All the loud mowing probably scattered the kittens for a while, but after it was over I saw that they had settled back into place.
Just to prove to me how powerful the mower is, I utterly demolished a 7up can that the occasional winds must have blown partway down the driveway. I didn't see it until I heard it, and the mower didn't even wind down as it pulverized the thin aluminum. Glad no spare fragments came my way!!
A bit of fine tuning followed with string trimmer and pruning shears. Many of our rhododendri are creepers, choosing to grow low rather than stand up tall. That seems curious as many of them are under fir and maple trees, where they often get gangly in an attempt to peek through the gaps. (Those exposed to the wind I deem as lost causes for forcing them tall, so they were left alone.) I encouraged some verticality with the shears by removing the most egregious creepers; we'll see where that leads but it felt good!