Saturday, June 11, 2011

6.6 So Rare

The main thing about June is how beautiful the days are. We had a tough May, until the last week of what is often my favorite month, and a cool, dark April. So far this month we’re getting compensated by a run of clear, sunny, often spectacular days, ranging from clean, clear angels-walk-this-earth mornings to balmy heat-soaked afternoons when evening breezes stream in like little rivers of bliss. (We also have Sonya visiting this month, her birthday month, so what can be bad?)
Okay, so why do we feel good when the weather is good? And bad when it’s bad?
Maybe the plant kingdom can offer a clue.
Pansies like cool weather. They like sun, plenty of it, but they don’t care how low the temperature goes. Gardeners put them out in early spring and these days even supermarkets sell them in April. If you can work the soil, the plants are pretty much certain to take root. Give them a few weeks to get used to being in the ground and they light up the cool earth with bright colors. As soon as you get a run of hot days, however, even in early June, they start to fade. Their stems lose their stuffing. The blossoms falter, dry, fall over. New blossoms are slow to open and no new next generations appear on the floral conveyor belt. Once July settles into a hot, humid spell, it’s all over. Wilt city. Some years I dig them up and try to hide them in the shade somewhere in the back until it gets cool enough to bring them out again.
Basically, pansies like the same weather Anne does.
Most of the other plants like the same kinds of weather I do. Cool, warm or hot; sunny or moodily dark; lightly showering (though not all day, and only when the garden needs it); dry air rather than humid, though I can take a hot, sticky day once in a while.
Nobody I know really likes long stretches of hot and humid. Plants, at least the temperate zone ones, are the same way. They like the same weather we do. When my garden is wilting, thirsty all the time and begging for somebody to turn the heat down and open a window, I’m generally tending in that direction myself.
When my plants are happy, I’m happy. That’s an easier equation than most partnerships allow for. Plants are generally happy. All things considered, they’re just happy to be here.
Temperate zone perennials do however have a far greater tolerance for cold than I do. This year’s chilly April and the long windy, rainy stretches of May that I found dreary, eminently avoidable, and bearable only by regular recourse to the indoors do not seem to have bothered the perennials. They were gathering their strength. Drinking deep. They thought they were in England.
I need to take a lesson here. Sure, let’s enjoy that great stretch of end of May and early June weather. Those room-temperature, scintillating sunny, dry-air days. Those dreamy late afternoons giving way to delicious after-dark cooling off periods that feel like a benevolent parent’s reward for being a good boy on a hot day. Some brilliant, optimistic mornings when we say, with Wordsworth, “This morning gives promise of a glorious day.”
Those days make us forget the disappointing ones, when raindrops kept falling on our head. But we should have known the good ones were coming. They always do – and that should be enough to keep one’s spirits up. Apparently it was for the lilacs and the roses and the clematis and the poppies.