Breaking Up With August Is Hard To Do


Hi, August.  It’s me.

Listen, I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one.  I’m just going to dive in and let you know . . .

It’s over between us.  I know I waited until the end of your days to tell you this, but I was really hoping you and I could have worked things out – maybe come to some sort of agreement on the nature of our relationship.  That seems to be out of the question now.

Each year, I hope to look forward to your arrival, but you are very skilled at trying my patience – and as quickly as my expectations rise, you find every opportunity to walk all over them.

Take my impatiens.  Please.  When I first saw that they weren’t thriving, that their stems were barren of leaves, I blamed myself (not enough water).  Then I blamed the slugs (they had to be munching all night).  And then I learned about the fungus.  Maybe you didn’t create the fungus, but your heat, humidity, and rain games certainly didn’t help.

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Repost: The Sounds of Summer


 I’m still in South Florida, waiting for my car to be fixed.  The mechanic informs me that the transfer casing needs to be replaced and there is only one brand new part in the entire country and GMC cannot locate it.  There is, fortunately, a used part in Orlando that has arrived and just needs to be installed.

My mind is worried about my New York garden and the clean-up that is waiting for me there.  Three weeks is an awfully long time to be away, and I’m sure that there is mowing and weeding and staking to be done.

And my heart and prayers are in Colorado.  It seems silly, doesn’t it?  To be worried about car repairs and gardening when there is so much pain and absolute sadness surrounding the tragedy in Aurora.  With each news update, I long for simpler times.  Innocent times.  Times  when evil didn’t walk into a movie theater — or a school or a mall or a military base . . . and the only sounds to be heard came from life.

It’s positively steamy outside. I’m watching the sprinkler water the zinnias on the far side of the pool, and completely drowning out the sound of running water is the non-stop, rapid-fire droning chirps of the Cicadas. Some might consider the sound a nuisance or torture, but I find the chirping can trigger memories and it sparks my imagination.

As a kid, we always incorrectly referred to these buzzers as locusts — but no matter what we called them, no sound reminds me more of the dog days of summer than the Cicada’s song. It’s like a sizzling sound effect, perfectly accentuating the sun’s rays scorching the garden. A never-ending sizzle, that forces me to stand as still as the hot, humid air. As one chorus whines to an end, another starts up, and so on and so on.

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I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts


Florida?  In summer?  Are you nuts?

If you’ve read any previous posts, you already know the answer to that question.  But in this case, there is a reason to the madness.  In a nutshell — a coconut shell, that is — South Florida will someday be our new home.  About one month before Hurricane Andrew arrived in 1992, Joe and I purchased a house.  Each year since, we have traveled to Fort Lauderdale several times a year to do the most relaxing of vacation activities: yard work.  And as we go about our palm tree trimming and bundling and bagging of debris, we do a lot of planning and dreaming.

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Re-Post: Do You Suffer From G-SAD?


This post first appeared nearly a year ago, and since I am somewhere on a highway on my way to a vacation and faraway from any Internet service , I thought it was quite appropriate to revisit the anxiety that I feel when I have to leave my garden in someone else’s hands.  For longtime readers, I apologize for this repeat broadcast; for new readers, I hope you enjoy.

I have done what every therapist and doctor advises people not to do. I have self-diagnosed, but let me first explain.

It’s summertime, and Joe and I are going on vacation for a few days. It’s a chance to relax, to get away from everything, to reconnect, to breathe. In actuality, though, the days leading up to departure mean a growing sense of unease and worry. I become consumed with obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and stress — and none of it comes from the what-to-pack, what-not-to-pack scenario, nor from the airport pat-down, nor from who will mind the dog and the cat, nor from the last-second question, “Did I remember to take my trusted Swiss army knife out of my carry-on?” No. For me, the physical-emotional symptoms stem from leaving my garden and entrusting its care to someone other than myself. I am now calling these symptoms Garden Separation Anxiety Disorder, also known as G-SAD, as in, “Gee, That’s sad.”

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Bloomin’ Update 28: I Went To A Garden Party . . .


It seems that quite suddenly, summer has brought the entire world into bloom — and that means hosting a whole bunch of guests to a bloomin’ banquet.  There’s plenty to eat and drink — so, bring a chair, sit back, and relax.

First up: butterflies.  I’m not sure what type of butterfly this is, but the garden is full of them.  They really don’t socialize with the other guests, and can often be found in pairs, fluttering about in mid-air and playing among the lavender.

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Bloomin’ Update 27: Let’s Go For A Walk


I read somewhere – and I apologize to whoever said it because I cannot credit you – it’s a shame that so many gardeners keep their gardens locked up in their backyards. How nice it would be if the garden could be in the front yard for everyone and anyone to enjoy as they walk by. 

That was my thought as Joe and I walked around the neighborhood on this first day of summer, strolling by our neighbors’ homes to get a peek and to be inspired by what was blooming.  This is what we found.

To start the walk, we had to pass our Lace Cap Hydrangea. The flowers remind me of speckled Easter eggs.

This would be a close-up of the “lace” in the Lace Cap.

Across the street, we spotted a small bouquet of Dianthus.

Just up the street, another neighbor had Daylilies blooming everywhere.

Another neighbor had cluster upon cluster of Roses spilling over a rock retaining wall.

I couldn’t resist a closer look at the ruffled petals.

This Daylily seemed to scream, “Look into my eye.” So I did.

Around the corner, there were beds of Astilbe in full bloom.

Up close, the pink clouds reminded me of cotton candy.

Around another corner, we discovered a bed of Yarrow growing around a curbside mailbox.

Imagine our surprise when we spotted a bed of Cactus — in flower — a few houses away. The owner, Helen, came running out and offered us a clipping, and then showed us the rest of her front yard garden. We made a promise to return again for a tour of the backyard — a new neighborly friend.

When we returned home, there was time to stop and smell the Lavender.

Happy Summer!

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: The Last Bouquet


For this Not-So-Wordless Wednesday post, I thought I would share the words of others, words that could somehow capture my feelings as I stand in the garden clipping some of the final blooms.

“Sorrow and scarlet leaf,

Sad thoughts and sunny weather.

Ah me, this glory and this grief

Agree not well together.”

Thomas Parson, 1880, A Song for September

The last page in this summer's garden scrapbook.

“For summer there, bear in mind, is a loitering gossip, that only begins to talk of leaving when September rises to go.” – George Washington Cable

There is a definite chatter as I get to work, selecting what’s left among the flowers.  Looking at the leggy stems, some of them browned, and the leaves dusted with powdery mildew, I can definitely hear a chorus of pleasantries and goodbyes as the summer guests make their way to the garden gate.

 “A late summer garden has a tranquility found no other time of year.” – William Longgood

There is a definite somberness and calmness in the garden today.  Perhaps it’s because plants that I have nurtured for so long, some from seed started in February, are leaving after a full season of delivering what was promised — and paying my respects is the right thing to do.  Maybe it has to do with the color of the sunlight, warm and golden, fading from the brightness of July.  The shadows seem longer, and the colors more muted – and yet, it feels warm and glowing, especially as the sunlight hits the faintest change of color in the leaves overhead.  More likely, though, the overwhelming sense stems from a combination of the two — and a little imagination.

“Spring flowers are long since gone.  Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace.  The gardener’s feet drag a bit on the dusty path and the hinge in his back is full of creaks.” – Louise Seymour Jones

Oh, yes, there’s a lot of dragging and creaking happening by this time of year.  I do feel the energy of summer leaving me — or maybe it’s just sympathy pains for the plants.  Gardeners, I think, develop a kind of symbiotic (or co-dependent) relationship with their charges.  When they sprout, I sprout.  When they bloom, I bloom.  And when they wither away, a piece of me goes with them also . . .

Until the process starts all over again.