It’s mid-August and it feels like summer is about over. I’m not sure why, but the summer felt less summery than normal, not as warm. For the second half of July and the first half of August, 18 of 30 days actually posted above normal high temperatures, averaging about 3 degrees warmer than usual among those days; but the other 12 days, which were below normal for high temps, were almost 9 degrees cooler than usual. Maybe that’s why it’s felt less summery lately. Low temps recently have been in the high 40s to mid 50s, so we’ve even closed windows a few nights because we didn’t want the heat (set at 60) to kick on.
I haven’t kept close track of the rain but that’s because there’s been enough rain this summer that I have rarely had to water, especially in the last month. For which I’m grateful.
Let’s look at some plants!
Veggies and Peaches
If some critter had not gotten into the veggie garden while I was away for two weeks in late July, I imagine there’d be a great bounty of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, beans, and peppers.
As it turned out, thanks to a groundhog or some other varmint that didn’t breach the fishing wire fence (so not a deer), there’s been no squash, almost no tomatoes, lettuce, chard, or green beans, a few peppers, and less arugula and fewer cucumbers than there should be.
The only plants to escape the wrath of the chewing critter were basil and garlic, so I’ve made a lot of pesto.
Tomatoes are trying to make a comeback now, as is chard, arugula, and the cucumbers.
The peaches are coming along, although friends in neighbouring towns have already harvested and frozen theirs. Some of ours are getting a blush and growing a bit bigger. Next year I will be even more brutal in early culling, if we’re lucky enough to have flowers and fruits again. One large branch was still so heavy that it split from the tree. We lost a hundred peaches or so, and the tree is further damaged (the trunk was bored into a few years ago).
Small colonies of Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) grow in two spots, next to the veggie garden, and on the other side of the house in the fruit guild. Usually there are lots of Sphex pensylvanicus (great black digger wasps) on it, but not this year, just a couple of golden great digger wasps so far.
Other pollinators like it, too:
Another favourite of pollinators is echinacea (coneflower), though certain varieties — in my garden, it’s a magenta watercoloury echinacea called ‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’ and a white one called ‘Primadonna White’ — don’t attract any. On the other hand, ‘Bravado,’ ‘Magnus Pink,’ ‘Purple Emperor,’ and the common unvarietied Echinacea purpurea all seem to attract a multitude of bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. I’ve got echinacea all over the yard: near the vegetable garden, in the fruit guild, in the back border (three or four varieties among seven or eight clumps), and in the front yard as well.
I’m not a huge fan of hydrangea but I inherited two types (one white shrubby type in the rock wall, one traditional blue type — which looks healthy but hasn’t bloomed this year) and actually bought a few others, including a PG hydrangea tree form for $15 at a sale and some (usually) non-flowering ‘Bail Day’ hydrangeas with variegated leaves.
Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ is one of my favourite tall flowering perennials, perfect for the back of borders. It likes to faint and flail all over the place, taking the bumblebees and honeybees with it.
I’ve got bunches of tall phlox around the yard, most of it shared by friends, so species/varieties aren’t known. I do know a few names, varieties I bought from nurseries, including Phlox paniculata ‘Wendy House’ (magenta), Phlox paniculata ‘Jade’ (white), Phlox glaberrima ‘Anita Kistler’ (which bloomed in July), and a Phlox hybrid called “Intensia Neon Pink,’ which was eaten the first year I planted it but has become a great bloomer in the four years since.
Some more purple, blue, and pink things (and a tiny bit of red):
And some yellow things; I don’t plant many yellow things, so these are mostly self-seeders and flowers from seed mixes:
Finally, a few odds and ends. There are always odds and ends, aren’t there?
“I feel like a time traveler:
June, July, August.
Summer dissolves in my mouth
and I can’t remember what it tasted like.”
— Zoë Lianne, “Erasure”
Thanks for stopping by! Come back in September, when the willow gentian, caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue,’ Joe Pye weed, clethra (summersweet), and asters, among other plants, will be popping pink, purple, and blues around the yard.
More GBBD, hosted at May Dreams Gardens:
… danger garden – Crocosmia!
… Late to the Garden Party (south coastal California) – that Callistemon ‘Cane’s Hybrid’ and the view beyond it are luscious!
… Lead Up the Garden Path (Devon, UK) – I’ve never seen a peacock butterfly before
… Commonweeder (western Mass.) – similar plants to some in my garden, but the clethra and asters are blooming ahead of mine
… Dirt Therapy (Vancouver, WA) – some gorgeous photos