I’m back! You may not have missed me, but my gardens certainly did! While I was having a marvelous time in Normandy this month, apparently it did not rain at all until the day before I returned. I’d put away all my summer clothes before I left because it was cooler than normal in late August, but returned to 90 degrees as soon as I departed. So, the shorts and T-shirts had to be recovered. Here’s a sample of what I found on my initial walk-about. First the good. The lovely flowers of garlic chives not only add a bit of much-needed brightness to the gardens, but are beloved of many beneficial bees and wasps. They do self-seed rampantly, so I’ll keep a close eye now that I’m back, for the beige pod clusters and remove them quickly. Both the leaves and flowers are useful in the kitchen, and it is a hardy perennial. I’m grateful for the color of the soft-purple verbena-on-a-stick, Verbena bonariensis, also called Brazilian vervain in some catalogs. This also self-seeds sumptiously, but I never have too many. The ones in shade look blue, so judge their true color by those shown in the sunlight in this photo. They are also loved by butterflies and other pollinators, and grow to 3′. In warmer zones, they are perennial, but here in Zone 5, they sometimes don’t survive if we have an especially harsh winter. Yesterday afternoon, the workers came to lay the sod in our new swale, which will help route water from the neighbor’s field away from our house. Expensive, but necessary, as seeding would have just washed away in the deluges. In the potager, one of the prettiest sights this morning were the flowers of the Red Candlestick okra. I was surprised that they were still blooming, since the plants were covered with 10″ pods…that no one picked while I was away. I guess none of the neighbors like okra! I was happy to see that the lettuce seeds I sprinkled before I left are germinating here and there in small patches where summer squashes came out. Observant folk will also notice a dandelion center top. Yes, while I was devouring luscious French food and guzzling the famous Normandie ciders, weeds were merrily thrusting through my soil. And, the cabbage worms were feasting upon my previously lovely brussel sprouts. My first task, even before unpacking or checking mail and e-mail, was spraying Bt to stop the destruction. So, holiday is over and it’s going to take quite a bit of time and effort to catch up the deadheading and weed removal, but it was definitely worth it. Thanks to The Propagator for suggesting this meme.