The month of August is bittersweet.
This year summer evolves especially fast. Spring was long and cool, delaying daffodil bloom long enough to sell cut stems at the April farmers market.
these beauties knock me out every April. I have a habit of rescuing or inheriting daffodils from abandoned properties or those departed, so I never know the names of each flower, yet every spring, I look forward to their many faces and scents, as my collection now numbers over 2,500.
By mid-May temperatures were in the 90’s, heavy rains fell, then the high humidity set in. Despite this challenging conditions, the peony harvest was especially abundant in May; over 600 stems were sold at market, necessitating the purchase of an additional refrigerator for the basement.
I did enjoy four days of respite at P Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm outside Little Rock, Arkansas. During the growing season, I tiptoe out of my gardens to catch a flight to this gardener’s dream land as a guest, only to return a few days later to a needy garden…”weed me, harvest me, plant me, mow me, feed me, dig me…”
Allen and I in his one-acre veggie garden at Moss Mountain Farm in May; a special friend in a special place (pallensmith.com)
back in Virginia, these Iris graced my gardens during May of this year. Another rescued beauty who now enjoys life here
and this rescued Iris blooms right along side the deep purple variety. Both flowers have a heavenly scent and bloomed continuously for three weeks during May!
one proud stand of glory
this is an old heirloom, scentless variety of tiger lily (tigrinum), native to China but long ago naturalized in America…these originals came from my mother’s gardens. Bulbs may be cooked and eaten, tasting something like an artichoke, although I have never found the need to imbibe. Prolific black bulbils produced in the axils of the leaves may be shared with friends, though they take years to mature. Blooms appear in July, are 3′-5′ tall and rarely need staking. Butterflies adore the flowers during a rainy month.
prolific Oakleaf hydrangea (paniculata) thrives here at Swallowtail Cottage, and produces abundant offspring from seed, which now fill an entire lower shrub border. There are approximately forty-five species and varieties grown in America.
And now it is August. Both heirloom tiger lilies and Davidii phlox bloom cycles are finished and spent stems are removed. The lush Oakleaf hydrangea bloom is merely a memory. Why? It seems, we gardeners wait with such anticipation for bloom time, only to have it pass seemingly overnight…every season.
Another native of South Africa, Lycoris squamigera or Naked Ladies suddenly appear in my August garden and seduce the eye with every gaze…they make a pretty cut flower, with elegant long stems and a pleasant scent…
Another late summer bloomer is the Formosa Lily (formosanum). White, funnel-shaped and fragrant with 1-10 flowers produced per stalk that grows to 6′. Easily self sows here in zone 6. Native to Formosa. My first seed pod came from Tufton, a former property of Thomas Jefferson.
Generous rains produced stunning, abundant blooms this season on the spiraea, hellebore, and Lemon lilies.
Lemon lilies in the lower garden
Delayed are the two main 2015 outdoor projects: the oil stain project of the new 90′ privacy fence (both sides) and the necessary reconditioning of the terrace masonry wall.
looming, yet very necessary, the 90′ long privacy fence needs a coat of oil based natural stain (both sides) in order to preserve the blond appearance. Frequent rain and high dew points continue to prevent moi from swinging the brush…
the 30′ block/parged terrace wall demands attention this year. Dry Lok Extreme and new coats of paint will restore…I’m hoping…
Are any of you considering home ownership? This post will be a reality check for you. Since buying this place back in 2001, the projects both large and small, inside and out, are endless. Some days/years I think I am making progress, others, I think I am in a rapid backslide…
Wild birds bring much relief and beauty on a daily basis to my gardens. This year I am hosting hummingbirds, and they come in droves for their plain sugar-water fix and enjoy sips from the Crocosmia.
hummer enjoys a sip from the Crocosmia from the kitchen herb garden in 2014. Did you know that Crocosmia is an herb from South Africa belonging to the Iris family? I rescued these corms and enjoy seeing them thrive.
in 2013 the hummers enjoyed sips from the pineapple sage…
hummingbirds enjoy the convenience of a perch on this sugar syrup feeder in 2015. Photo was taken through solar film and glass, so a wee bit soft…
I feed numerous other wild birds here at Swallowtail Cottage, yet the Bluebirds chose not to nest here again this year. They come in to feed, and I hear their song whilst gardening, yet only a pair of black cap chickadees occupied the BB boxes this season while either a titmouse or carolina wren raised young in the wren box.
nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage 2013. Would you feed them GMO food?
So begins August here in central Virginia. I expect the arborist later this month for our annual chore of topping/shearing the Leyland cypress hedges; I will be glad to see the bagworms vanish into the chipper.
annual shearing of tops and sides of Leyland cypress, as 135 surround my property’s perimeter
One glorious yellow swallowtail graces my garden and poses cooperatively on the verbena. These flutterbyes inspired the name of my property…Swallowtail Cottage. Still awaiting the Monarchs…
Queen Ann’s Lace, hyssop, cleome, hostas, and roses continue to color the landscape as summer winds down for another season. Butterflies nectar on the verbena and Joe Pye Weed. Fat cucumbers dangle from the arched cattle panels, while sweet basil, tomatoes, hot peppers, kale and herbs fill the raised beds. Soon I will harvest my first crop of Lilliput melons, as they meander across the lower butterfly garden. 2015 has been an abundant growing season. Full of edibles, friends, happy memories, and hard work.
end of summer bouquet
And soon, yes soon I will breathe a bit easier; I will sleep a wee bit longer as garden/market chores lighten. As biting insects depart, when there is a chill in the crisp air, I will once again enjoy my lower patio and reflect on another year as a homeowner/gardener.
Did you know that we will lose one hour of daylight in August? While I am still the busy bee today, the planet continues its orbit. Our gardens respond, and indeed so do we. Best now to consider the color of this year’s flannel sheets, while continuing to mow, weed those persistent invasives, and get a handle on those unfinished outdoor projects…
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