Wednesday, July 16, 2008

pruners for a pen

I have not been writing much on this site. Noticeably absent is anything about summer gardens including my own. One reason, is that so much is happening in the hot months I do not know where to start.

Winter blooms are easy to appreciate because they are so uncommon. Spring and summer flowers are, well, expected. Throw in vegetable beds, a heat wave or two, a week at the beach, and it becomes even harder to notice the nuance of what is growing or struggling. Gardeners are hard pressed to find surplus time above what is required of them to clip squash, dead-head coreopsis, rip-out strings of invading Bermuda grass, water transplants, mix fertilizer, tie clematises, etc. We are just keeping our heads above water. In a few short weeks, I am ashamed to say, many of us will be looking past the summer and pining for a first frost to check our weeds, to-do lists and irrigation needs. It is all part of wanting what’s next. Personally, I cannot wait to see a swamp sunflower covered in yellow daises this October, but in the meantime I really should stop and pick some zinnias.

So almost a month after the 2008 summer solstice, here is an excerpt from my neglected summer garden journal at the peak of a growing season:

• Downpours have laid low several swaths of black eyed susans seeded from last year’s parent crop. The upside is that it forces me to bring more cut flowers inside.

• Two zucchinis found their way into last week’s menu and this past weekend’s chocolate-chip bread. Tomatoes and eggplant will hopefully be on the kitchen windowsill by the first of August.

• My climbing rose, purchased from Niche Gardens in April, is finally starting to put out new growth. The one-year old Knockout Rose from last year’s Mothers’ Day has doubled in size and the Floribunda Rose from Mothers’ Day two years ago has harbored half of the dozen or so Japanese Beetles I have seen this June.

• Luckily, this year may be a “victory” in my perennial war against Japanese Beetles. The reduced army of pests can be blamed on more ladybugs and birds from an increasingly diverse collection of shrubs and flowers along with the Milky Spore bacterium I introduced to my soil almost two years ago. Or maybe it was last year’s drought?

• I wish I had room in my yard for our climate zone’s favorite flowering trees of summer: crape myrtles, chaste trees, rose of sharons. This list of coveted plants changes by the season. In six months I will really want a more fragrant witchhazel and team of winterberry bushes.

• Once again, the daylily season passed by with my masses of common daylilies blooming at once in the same two-three week period. However one, a ruffled lemon yellow version from my parent’s yard, is still providing.

• My favorite summer container garden has reached its zenith: an old galvanized washtub centered by orange blooming spikes from a spreading bronze-leaved canna lilly. It shares its dirt with orange single flowered marigolds and a clump of trailing purple-heart. To keep it watered I throw day old dog-dish water on top every morning-two chores in one.

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