“You spend an awful lot of time agonizing over leaves,” Joe, my partner, said to me the other day as we drove around the neighborhood. His statement was in response to my noticing that some homeowners had bagged their leaves in plastic bags while others had bagged them in recyclable brown paper bags, which the township now requires.
I admit I have a hard time letting go of summer.
Even with leaves changing and falling and blooms fading and browning, I’m still reluctant to clean the beds and put them to rest. Even the weather is having a difficult time falling into a seasonal rhythm. There are days that are windy and evenings that are slightly frosty, and then there are the times when it feels mild and balmy.
So, with camera in hand, it’s last call in the garden, one last chance for flowers to bask in the spotlight before a hard frost takes them away.
I stepped outside this morning and I could see my breath. Clearly, summer left the building — or at the very least, it left the garden. Almost immediately, I began singing Lana Del Rey’s smash, “Summertime Sadness” — or, rather, just the chorus: “I’ve got that summertime, summertime sadness, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.”
I’ve actually been a little melancholy over the past few days. Maybe it was the 9/11 anniversary. Maybe it’s the start of another school year. And maybe it does have to do with the change in weather. While the cooler weather signals the time to clean and store terra cotta pots, elephant ears, and canna — as well as myself — for the winter months, there is something else on my mind.
Yes, that is the question – and it’s a question I didn’t even knew I had until a recent Monday night Twitter conversation.
A few times over the summer, I’ve participated in The Garden Chat, a group of gardeners who “meet” in the Twitterverse to discuss gardening, ask gardening questions, share garden photos — it’s kind of like an old-fashioned neighborly talk over the fence, only the fence is really, really big.
The Great Heat of 2013 has come and gone, and there is joy and gladness throughout the land — and when I say land, I mean my garden. In fact, I think I can actually hear a collective sigh of relief coming from the plants (and maybe some of you) as more reasonable, seasonable summer temps return.
And when I look around the garden, it’s clear that some plants are still sporting nasty sunburns. Some of the hydrangea heads, for example, are tipped with brown.
But it’s the zinnias that garner all of my praise. I planted various kinds of zinnias this year — more than usual — because I knew that I would be unable to start my usual annuals from seed in the potting shed. I needed an easy seed — one that could be directly sown — and zinnias were the obvious choice.
And I’m so glad I did. As the temperatures rose, they stood tall and proud, empty of fear and full of color. I like to think they were the cheerleaders of the garden, encouraging the other plants to hold on. I’ll let their photos do the talking.
Which plants in your garden would you cheer for?
When children recite, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” perhaps a more appropriate question would be, “From where does your garden grow?” That’s the question I ‘m asking myself this Columbus Day weekend after reading the best-selling new book 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles C. Mann. This meticulously researched book examines the world after Columbus set foot in North America.
While Columbus certainly has his critics, there can be no mistaking that his arrival in the New World placed the entire world on the globalization frontier. The author’s position is that much of what we enjoy today can be traced back to what he calls the Columbian Exchange, a means of moving plants and seeds and animals from one part of the world to another part. It is why, for example, that tomatoes arrived in Italy and citrus arrived in Florida. So much of what we take for granted wasn’t always so; and much of it would not be if Columbus had not set the process in motion.
I myself am a bit of a mutt: English, Scottish, German, French, and Italian. My paternal ancestors arrived in North America in 1675; my maternal great-grandfather entered through Ellis Island. While this is my gene pool, I wonder just how diverse and worldly is my garden?
Thanks to the Internet and Google, I learned that what I plant has traveled a long way to be planted. In fact, my garden could be a lesson for world leaders seeking peace. Although it heavily favors Asia and Central and South Americas, there is little conflict in plants from many lands successfully sharing common ground. (Note to self: bring Australia into the mix, but wait until full-out global warming for Antarctica to come into bloom.)
And to think my melting pot only took 518 years — and still counting — to plant.
Happy Columbus Day — and enjoy the weekend in the garden.
My plan was to have a post featuring the blooms of the waning days of summer. With camera in hand, I captured bees tending to their chores on a day that felt more like July than September. If you could see their bee faces, I’m sure they were aglow with autumn joy.
Then, in a matter of hours, a cold front roared through. The clouds thickened and darkened, the wind grew stronger, and fat drops of rain splattered everything. And all the while, the temperature plummeted — so much so, that by sunset, it felt like late October. When I looked out of a window, I saw the last canna bloom (was that a shiver?) glowing. I again grabbed the camera, this time to capture the canna’s last stand — and I was blown away by the vividness of color.
A few of the old standbys: a faded Hydrangea (take that Madonna!), Liriope spikes, Coleus “Tartan,” and a Caladium close-up.
The Sunflower Sisters, one streaked with orange, the second like a faded version of the first, and the third looking more like celestial eclipse.
Finally, another glimpse of “Autumn Joy” Sedum. The bees were probably in a state of suspended animation at this hour and temperature.
My late-night expedition into the garden was a wonderful way to close-out summer. (Note to self: Next year, don’t wait until the end of summer for a nighttime photo shoot.) Looking back on this growing season, it was exciting to enter the blogging world and to share my life and garden with you. I appreciate greatly all of the comments and encouragement. Now, it’s time for cleaning up, digging and storing tender bulbs, protecting terracotta pots, and the never-ending raking — in other words, the joys of autumn.
It’s the day before Hurricane Irene is forecasted to slam into Long Island. I took advantage of the calm before the storm to give my plants a little pep talk. I wanted to prepare them for what Jim Cantore and the folks at the Weather Channel said we could expect. I wanted to encourage them to stand strong against the wind and the rain, that we would get through this together, and to rest easy that sunny skies will return. I was especially impressed with the Hydrangeas, all of which put on an outstanding show this summer. That’s why they were featured so heavily in many of the “Bloomin’ Update” posts.
Hydrangeas are my favorite flowering shrub. I love the fullness of their blooms, the variety of their colors, the look and the feel they bring to the landscape, and the length of time they hold onto the stem until their glory fades away. Now, in the waning days of summer with a hurricane breathing down our necks, I offer you a last look at some of my Hydrangeas, their vibrant colors now antiqued and slightly withered. We should all be fortunate enough to age this gracefully.
The newscasters and weather forecasters are having a field day with the heat wave. They’re frying eggs on the pavement and baking cookies in cars and they have a new term, “heat dome,” to describe the blistering weather pattern. The urgency in their voices reminds me of “The Twilight Zone” episode where the Earth is moving closer to the sun. These are the same people, mind you, who whip up winter hysteria when snow is predicted. It seems that no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, she’ll never make everyone happy.
I must admit, though, I am enjoying the heat dome — or as I call it, summer. Yes, it’s hot, and yes, I’m spending lots of time quenching my thirsty plants. For lots of reasons — too many to get into here — I like the warmth. I like the casualness of the season. And I like the time spent in the garden, because the days of the heat dome are numbered.
In honor of this sentiment, I would like to share a few hot colors from around the yard, as well as a few cool thoughts to remind us of what was and what will come.