The air feels different. Mornings begin as misty, impressionist paintings with a layer of fog over the neighboring cornfield, and the sun seems to be in no hurry to make an appearance. But slowly, it emerges bringing intense heat and turning the dew into humidity that soaks T-shirts and hat bands. Oh wait, that’s me doing the soaking. Yes, it’s hot. The plants feel it, too, that change in the air. The sunflowers that were so exuberant early in the month are hanging their petal-less heads, too weary to follow the sun any longer. Many leaves that were pristine green are now flecked with brown spots. Today, I’ll pull out the nippers and cut the sunflowers, laying them against a bare spot on the back berry fence, where the goldfinches can still find and enjoy their seeds. If it’s not adding to the beauty, it’s adding to the ugly, so out it comes. That will also give the peppers and roses more breathing room, and in this heat, even the plants appreciate some social distancing.
Having never been successful before growing sweet peas, I was under the impression that like garden peas, they were a cool weather crop, so their continued blooms perfuming and decorating the potager during this heat have been a surprise. I expected them to be done mid-June, but they are still flowering. However, they are feeling the change in the air as well, evidenced by shorter stems and a stronger sense to procreate. I’ve found that a daily inspection is required because seed pods appear overnight. I’d like to keep them going a while longer before I allow some to set and ripen seed, so I’m snipping off faded flowers for a couple more weeks.
Before the cauliflower that was in this bed was harvested, one plant in the center was pulled and a baby butternut squash plant was inserted. By the time the rest of the cauliflower had all come out, the squash was getting larger and beginning to sprawl. Fortunately, an old ladder from the pole barn volunteered to serve, and the squash is merrily climbing twine to the top. Now I can plant lettuces around the edges. Notice the black web flat leaning against one of the triangle beds? The violas that were there finally succumbed to the heat, so they were removed and “Petra” purple basil plants and “Spicy Globe” basil took their places. Basil doesn’t mind the heat as long as it gets plenty of water, and now that the Japanese beetle population has dwindled (if I had a penny for every beetle I’ve drowned, I could play the market…or buy LOTS of seeds!) they should settle in happily. Since the basils were in a crowded flat on the “waiting bench” the web flat will provide a little protection from full sun and wind for a few days, until they adjust.
The daylilies’ demise always marks the beginning of the end to me. The gardens that were so brilliant in spring, so cheerful in early summer, are now more somber and softer. The perennials that provided an ever-changing picture are nearly all finished, and it’s up to the annuals to continue to provide any color. You may recall that last year, I purchased some “late” daylilies from a grower who lives here in Indiana, but further north, asking for her last daylilies to bloom in an attempt to lenghten my daylily season. Duh! Where was my brain? I should have found a grower south of me instead. My new daylilies are all blooming with my “old” last daylilies, of course, since her gardens are a week or two later than mine. Oh well, I like them even though they aren’t lengthening my season at all. Live and learn.
The Front Garden looks a bit weary, too, now that most of the coneflowers, daylilies and rudbeckia are finished. It’s a bit greener, because it gets watered more often than the other gardens, but my plan to get soaker hoses installed went awry with lots of other plans with isolation, and the result is that now I will have to attempt to remove the rust build-up on the windows and brick, or learn to live with it (doubtful…) A couple of the mums have returned from last fall’s plantings, but they are small. I’m not feeling an urge to venture out shopping for fall color. I think I’ll just live with what I’ve got, and maybe even plant out more of the annuals still on the “waiting bench.” Or, maybe stick in a squash plant or two, or some purple cabbages? Why not? No one will see it, but me….and maybe YOU!