Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Last, Best Day




So June saves its best day for the last.
Perfect dry air all day, beautiful but somehow soft light.
I sit in back garden, on the patio, while my son cooks dinner. A bird, probably not a thrush, but just as melodious this evening, repeats its call, singing from somebody else’s tree. Ours are thickly leafed, having survived another caterpillar spring.
Given the number rainy days this month, growing conditions are close to perfect when the sun finally comes out. Perennials (I say once again) don’t need as much sun as we do. I complain and moan whenever we get a wet spell – oh will I ever see the sun again? – while the plants drink deeply and wait for the next solar holiday.
We have come to the show-off moment for the part of the garden surrounding the bistro set beside the oak tree. I like this midsummer cohort of flowers best when they first emerge, the first full flush of plus-sized primary colors. The spiky red tops of the bee balm; absurd corkscrew feather-like petals kicking up from a humble stalky herb. From the point of view of my seat on the patio, they line up in front of a phalanx of fresh-blooming daylilies, ruddy orange towers of flower, the region’s native skyscrapers.
Below them a dense development of five-floor co-ops – all crayon-yellow evening primrose, undergirding the summer scheme. A few remaining floxgloves from an earlier period of the growing season’s archeology watch from the side. Behind these, a low spot on the horizon of fence, a barely blue hydrangea flowers opens its summer season with a program of showtunes and light classics.
Up close, from the patio, a thin filter of skinny spires from the pale yellow small-blossom race of foxglove-imitators elevator into the view. Higher and slighter in their girding, loose-gowned Queen Anne’s Lace announce it’s time to wander down high summer footpaths beside perfumed mowings. A second-year colony of coreopsis begins a golden sunrise.
Up closer to the patio, in the so-called “violet” section, things are quieter. But the coral bell is blooming – pinkish white flowers over red-violet foliage – along with a little first-year pincushion flower with pink flowers, and a verbena offering up a deep violet flower, which I’m trying to forget (for pity’s sake) is only an annual.
On the far side of the weeping cherry a modest little deep blue geranium offers two flowers at a time – never more than two. I walk over to say hello, a quick visit with an old friend, who prefers a low profile.
On the other, or north side of the weeping cherry, the “yellow” section began unveiling its summer collection about a week ago. A few yellow sedum, followed by thick beds of yellow primrose, yellow tufted achillea (yarrow), and a buttery collection of low stella d’oro daylilies. A few low red roses sing a different but hot tune as well.
Purple spiderwort mixes in there as well. Behind the primrose a couple of fat, expanding astilbes, glowing blood red and papery white, lead the entourage surrounding the sundial, which almost overwhelms it now. Some purple blooming climbing flowers show their color there now too, whose I wrote down last year but have now forgotten.
All of these sing in the midsummer sunshine. But they’ll take be just as happy if a few dark, rainy days come along as well to keep them going.

Unreal City

City of flowers
Make believe summer skyline
Magic to the eye