The past week has been trying. The heat wave followed by heavy rains pretty much kept me indoors. In the beginning, it was kind of fun to have legitimate reason to loll in air-conditioned comfort and read at leisure. But after a couple of days, I started fretting over the garden. When I finally ventured out, as expected, the weeds had made great strides. A few days without vigilance and the hooligans had gone to town. What weeding could be done between rain showers was done. But that’s it. It just wasn’t possible to do more.
This week is once again fraught with erratic weather but I think I can no longer take it easy. There’s more weeding, plenty of deadheading and cutting back awaiting. The spice bush and climbing hydrangea are being strangled by Virginia creeper that somehow escaped notice till now. And the ornamental raspberry is threatening to overrun the meadow. The bees love it so, thus far, I’ve been reluctant to disturb their bliss. It’s going to be quite a job to pull out a substantial chunk of this hardy plant but I cannot afford to delay– several other plants in the vicinity are being smothered.
Meanwhile, with all the warmth and humidity, the snail and slug populations have exploded. A real bumper crop. Aaaargh!
The list of chores grows and the weather refuses to cooperate. So I’m left with no choice but to get out and get on. Sigh. My pile of summer reading must wait.
Note: Some images of whats doing in my garden at present –
July is coming to a close and what a month it has been in the garden. Hot, messy and erratic. That poem by Pasternak describes it so well.
Dictated by the
weather, I’ve been negligent of my garden duties. It’s just
really hard to get outside and work when merely standing still brings
on the sweat and sends out irresistible invites to all the biting
bugs near and far. Consequently, the chores get done in fits and
starts, bits and pieces. A little weeding here, some deadheading
there. The automatic watering system set up for the pots broke down
and needed fixing – mercifully, the preceding days had been wet so
the plants were relatively unharmed.
The heat wave put
paid to the plants in the pots on the wall on the side terrace.
Despite the daily watering, they simply could not take those high
temperatures. I’ve decided to empty out the pots and not replant.
With a very busy August schedule coming up, it’s time to simplify
They say this June
was the hottest one in recent history and July is turning out to
match it. Who knows what August will do.
appeared as happy surprises in one of the large bay standard pots. A
lone sunflower grew in the vertical garden. I’d stopped planting
lilies a few years ago because I lost the battle with the red lily
beetles. Well, as though waking up after a long slumber, a couple of
lily plants re-emerged this summer. Their leaves are ugly and chewed
up but the flowers look fine and are busy perfuming the front garden.
The garden might
look a bit unruly but it is fragrance heaven. Lilies in front soon to
be followed by phlox, gardenias and orange-blossoms on the side and
jasmine in the back. Heaven.
The meadow has been in serious need of attention. First, the jewelweed took advantage of my apathy and spread itself all over. Once they were deliberately reduced to more manageable numbers, a nettle of the sting-less variety moved in with a vengeance. It needs to be completely and ruthlessly removed all together. It’s been a real task trying to help the many new plants planted in late spring establish themselves. Fingers crossed …
hydrangea are in bloom – they provide much needed color in the
meadow right now. Elsewhere, the Echinacea
in their brightness are drawing the pollinators. I
really ought to plant more of these stalwarts and get rid of the
fussy, finicky members of the
garden. With harsh weather
becoming the new normal, it behooves a gardener to rethink the
season has begun. We’re enjoying the golden cherry tomatoes and
savoring the bigger varieties as they ripen. At this stage, each
fruit is precious. Soon, there will be a glut and we’ll take them
for granted as we make soups,
salads and sauces.
It’s so easy to obsess over the disheveled state of the garden, complain about the heat in July. But, looking around, amidst the green jungle, I see heroic flowers splashing color and fragrance all over. The herbs, leafy greens and, early tomatoes grace our meals. Ripening grapes and pears hold the promise of an autumn harvest. The asters are coming up strong for a good showing to close out the summer.
Under stressful circumstances, the garden is working hard to deliver. I must move to do the same.
slow, sultry sway of summer has taken over
and it is sweeeet. I’ve taken my cues from the season and slowed my
pace, lightened my load and simplified my days. I get work done but
no new projects are started. Meals focus on fresh, easy to put
together ingredients. Garden chores are limited to only what is
needed – weekly weeding,
watering as required
and deadheading only what’s
obvious. The garden seems to be enjoying doing its own thing –
free-spirited, alive and lush. Kinda bohemian. I appreciate that.
Heck, I aspire to it.
I finally got around to cutting back the asters and other fall blooming perennials by one-third and more so they will be fuller and less leggy at that time. During the cut back, I noticed that the Sanguisorba was under attack by Japanese beetles and there was also a general over-presence of slugs. All the beetles I could see were picked off and dumped into a hot soap solution and then a neem oil spray treatment was applied to the plants right after. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to deal with Japanese beetles. Let’s hope the neem does the trick.
positive outcome – the
allium sphaerocephalon were completely hidden until the asters were
cut back. Now, their deep maroon-purple heads lend bursts of color
amidst an otherwise
overwhelmingly green bed.
of color, that maroon-purple hue is having a moment in the front
perennial beds. The echinacea, alliums, acanthus, butterfly bushes
and geraniums are all in variations of that shade. Soon the
Eupatorium will join in. It looks like I planned it that way but no,
I cannot take that credit. One of those happy accidents of nature
that I’ve come to rely on.
Swiss chard is showing up frequently at meals. Easy to cook and so
delicious. The first cherry tomatoes and figs have been savored and
now I’m impatient for a regular supply. Zucchini
are the current
favorite. Stuffed with mildly
and fried tempura style, they are just soooo good. Using the flowers
also prevents having the inevitable surplus of zucchini to contend
with later in the season. We leave only
a small number to reach fruition. Just enough for a few ratatouille
meals and several
loaves of tasty breads to sweeten winter mornings (the bread freezes
made a big batch of arugula pesto last week. There was an abundance
of the leaves and it seemed a good thing to make. I froze a large
portion and refrigerated some of the pesto to use this week in pasta
and also in sandwiches. With all the outdoor concerts and plays we’re
attending, picnic meals need to be put together. Sandwiches of
arugula or basil pesto with sun-dried tomatoes with or without fresh
mozzarella elevate the repast.
yes, the mojito mint is thriving and being put to good use! FYI –
the leaves also make for an
appetizing Indian chutney that we
use in sandwiches and as a condiment to pair with crackers, samosas
the butterflies and bees make their rounds has become my go-to method
for decompressing. It’s very effective – I highly recommend it.
Ditto for spending some time taking in the show of fireflies at
you get lulled into taking it too easy, this is the time to order
bulbs for fall planting. It
might feel strange to think about next spring right now but take my
word – you will miss out on bagging some special and/or unusual
bulbs if you wait too long. It’s a nice thing to do when you’re
indoors in air-conditioned comfort on a sweltering hot day. You will
only be charged when the bulbs are shipped in the fall at the
appropriate planting time for your zone. So
just get it done!
Now, back to my summer reading and a tall glass of lemonade …
Note:I’m participating in two upcoming art shows in August and September. Do please mark your calendars to check them out.