Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Garden of No Regrets: August in the Rearview Mirror



            A salute to August. It really was a good month, with more than its share of dry, sunny weather. Also our first meteorologically legit 'heat wave' -- three days in a row, I learned, of 90 degrees or better (using Boston temps). I suspect other parts of the country had many more.
            One week had a little rain in it, more clouds than I needed for the amount of rain we received. But still, enough moisture that most of a week I didn't need to water every day.
            A responsibility in which I failed on numerous counts. The most significant concerning the 'container garden' I whipped together this year consisting of plants grown by other people and, for the most part, sold at ridiculous discounts when the season advanced beyond the point when any sane individual was still interested in plating red sweet peppers or fingerling eggplants. I was, however; got them cheap; and would have made out gloriously in low-cost fresh vegetables, but since I wasn't always ditiful in watering, I failed to notice when certain veggies had passed from the still ripening stage to now decaying. A few of the plants, which I had transplanted into the largest containers I could find -- though still inadequately roomy in many cases -- suffered from not being watered faithfully, which in their case would have been twice a day, since their dirty little root-cellar pots simply weren't roomy enough to hold all the moisture they needed.
            And fingerling eggplants, I learned, are simply too small to work in a lot of recipes. When you grill them, the ratio of skin to flesh is high. You simply need more flesh to hold the fruit's sweetness. All the sweet peppers grill up tasty, however, especially if you like some charring.
            The container-grown annual flowers, at least those I housed in big roomy pots, flourished. I'm posting one here as the top photo. The violet blossom spikes are on a flower called Angelonia, which I've bought once or twice before from nurseries. This year I gave it a setting close to full sun (where the property's old shed was crushed by winter snow, and removed by burly men), and it flourished.The red flower spikes are the common red salvia, an annual that keeps producing in late summer.
            Some other annuals that (one hopes) have the same lasting quality appear in these other photos. The third photo down includes a dahlia annual with an attractive parti-colored blossom, and the pink vinca annual that grows in a low bushy clump (unlike vinca minor, which spreads all over).
            Another August flower pictured here (fourth photo down) is the blue-flowering buccaneer flower. It holds its blossoms well in August temperatures and conditions.
            The bodelia, or butterfly bush, still flowers, though its blossoms are so quick-drying that you have to clip them every few days to keep the plant in color. (fifth photo)
            We're also enjoying a second season in these traditional red roses (sixth photo). I don't know what variety they are.
            A newcomer, wholly inspired by a friend who grew a nine-foot Hollyhock in her garden this summer, is this plant (seventh pic) I found in Home Depot.
            These dark violet anemone (second photo) are among favorites blossoms of this or any season. The first ones showed last week. I'm glad they're slower than the pink blossomed plants, so I can hope they'll keep me in blooms for much of September. Oh, my goodness, this is the first mention Ive made of that world.
            I'm sticking with the astronomical convention that calls these first weeks of September part of "summer," that time of year when you can wake up in the morning and it's not cold.
            I sit here with my windows open, and a beautiful breeze wafting in through the screens, and a beautiful clear light, dry-air lighting up -- (and at the day's middle overlighting) -- the colors and shapes of the natural world outdoors.
            And I've only had to listen to the landscapers' power machines for the last hour... They're retreating now. I hear them a half block away and not directly next door.
            Power to the people? No way, when it comes to gardening. It's power to the plants. And to the sun. And to the rain.
            And to the life we share with all that lives and breathes.