Friday, October 2, 2015

The last day of September: the Elegaic Garden

How often the weather changes in a distinctly seasonable fashion on the first day of the month!
            September, while it brings the major societal change of back to school, back to college, and (if you've had an August vacation) back to work, is seasonally speaking the last month of summer. Summer ran out, astronomically speaking, on Sept. 23 this year, a full week before the end of the month. But the weather didn't change then.
            September 2015, at least in Massachusetts, was an unusually warm September, the second warmest on record. Like the two previous months, we had lots of clear days -- good vibrations for the solar panels -- and lengthy periods without any substantial rain. (Going to California in my mind.) The sun is good for us and warmth ripens the tomatoes and makes any sun-loving plant want to grow and blossom and keep blossoming, but the lack of rain leaves you with a lot of parched-looking leaves, dried flowers, wilted profiles, stunted annuals, and unopened buds. Green lawns turn brown.
            Obsessive gardeners (not mentioning any names here) finally accept that they have to water by hand every day, almost as if were living in the sunbelt.
            Things changed, just as if some meteorological divinity were counting the days, as we ran out of September.
            September 30th poured the first inches-count-of-rain day in half a year, sending a host of seasonal messages, including one clear point: put away the garden hose. ("You know," the next door neighbor kindly explained to me on the 29th, "we're going to be getting all this rain" when she discovered my day-long hose drip beneath the still-flagging rhododendron). 
            That night the temperature plunged.
            On the first day of October I got up and turned on the heat.
            On the second day I realized that I would have to remember where we put the winter clothes to find something to wear.... Oh yeah, sweaters, boots, umbrellas, the old routines come back to us. 
            And, of course I've had a lingering cold all week.
            Nevertheless, a fond look back at -- well, just a matter of days ago.
            All that watering, especially in plants condemned to grow in pots, their roots imprisoned, enabled some of the annuals to keep flowering.
            In the top photo posted here, we have dahlias with red and yellow blossom.
            A hollyhock with a deep red blossom (second photo). A new perennial, which I picked up after seeing one at a friend's house that grew nine feet tall before the flower spike was cut in half by a gust of wind. In the foreground of the photo, some violet asters that flowered nicely in September and are now beginning to fade.
            Some hardy mums planted last year against a low wall. (Fourth photo down.)
            A tall red aster, the most colorful of all the plants still blooming (seen in the third photo down and also at the end of the column). This one was given to us a couple years ago by neighbors.
            The last of the yellow Black-eyed Susans, a staple bloomer over the last three month, is seen in the top of the two red aster photos.
            Some white flowering anemone show with the dark pink ones behind it (fifth photo down).
            A photo of various flowering plants with a tall phlox that gives white blossoms and pink centers dominating in the foreground (sixth photo down).