Monday, September 5, 2016

Garden of the Seasons: The Pleasures of September

            We can use our own judgment to decide whether summer is over. By the definition their industry uses, the meteorological science people claim it is. They divide the seasons by the whole month method, so autumn for them begins on Sept. 1. Summer began its three-month run June 1. Winter begins on Dec. 1.
            The astronomical calendar, following the movements of the sun more exactly, extends the three-month run of summer out to Sept. 22, when the sun's apogee is directly above the equator.
            Whichever season we assign it to, to me the first days of September ring in a change. Now you always hear the crickets at full voice when you venture out at twilight. You get a cool day, and probably a couple of rainy days too at the month's beginning. (Still waiting.) In September I go around the house closing windows first thing after getting out of bed. I work on remembering where I put the long sleeves; the 'wind-breaker'; socks. Wonder why the flip-flops are still hanging around next to the front door.
            And even though it's been years and years since I've had any personal connection to the academic calendar, I'm certain I still feel a change in the air when the neighborhood turns another page on the calendar. I stand outside my house in the hours before noon and listen hard. What is that sound? Is it silence?
            Some segment of the neighborhood's population has been  significantly emptied. People who live next to schools have a different opinion.
            The silence has many causes. Landscaping electronics continue this month, but at a reduced frequency. People are motivated to keep their lawns trimmed for 'summer.' After summer vacation, that impulse dwindles.
            But whether September is really still summer or not, it offers many of the same pleasures we gobble up in the 'vacation month' of August. Our son, who lives in a Midwestern city where the humidity lingers, reminds us when he visits that August is a beautiful time in New England. If you're not a commercial farmer, August is the easiest month of the year to do whatever you please; or nothing, if that's what pleases. Lots of sunlight; but as a rule little humidity. Guess what, September comes right behind it.
            Garden lovers have no trouble finding something to keep the flame going. The first weeks of September offers the last happy-go-lucky days for late summer standbys. Sweet William (second photo). Tall phlox (photo at left). Cosmos. Zinnias. Cone flowers and Rudbeckia (both seen in third photo down). The morning glory are still climbing. The PG hydrangea (fifth photo), in this year-after last year's rescue-transplant, gives us one beautiful, enduring bloom.
            The butterfly bush (Buddleia: top photo, with butterfly), during the last two years at least, is peaking. Our red-flowering Coreopsis is on a second bloom (sixth photo). Potted annuals are going great guns.
            A perennial called "Blue boas," or Agastache, has continued flowering from mid-summer on. The blue balloon flowers has some second blossoms. A few day lilies as well.
            With so many plants still flowering, I find satisfaction in cutting back the plants have flowered, done their thing, had their moment in the sun, and now are wilting. Removing some layers of mid-summer lush allows the remaining color peaks to shine. Besides, it's a lot less work than undertaking the significant transplanting I put off every year.September's too good not to enjoy it while it lasts.