August, Die She Must

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September nears.  We are either excited to begin the fall season and forget about summer failings, or we are starting to plan for next year, when the weather will be perfect, and a kinder, gentler insect nation will live in harmony with our pole beans and pelargoniums.

I have let much go over the season, aided and abetted by the convenience of a  membership in a local CSA and a couple of overflowing beds at the community garden.  Now is the time of reckoning….of clean up and harvest and the planting of a few veggies before Jack Frost has his wicked way with my soil structure.

Spinach is going in, as is lettuce and even a broccoli plant or two.  The broccoli is late of course, but I will endeavor to get a bit of fleece over the plants to keep temperatures higher. Should my efforts fail, I will be sautéing leaves in butter, rather than steaming florets in broth, but either way, there will be veggies on the table in October.

The flower gardens are in a state of what could kindly be termed ‘cottage neglect’.  Rudbeckia still flowers, as does the odd re-blooming rose and a favored hibiscus – but the duties of coloring the garden have been given primarily to the annual firecrackers:  zinnia, cleome, pelargonium (‘Bright Lights’ chard for that matter).  Soon the autumn bloomers will add to the display – indeed the sweet autumn clematis is about to pop, as are stonecrop, caryopteris and various asters of uncertain parentage.

A groundhog still roams the back garden freely.  He has grown fat and happy on the remains of my kale, courted a sweetheart and built a network of tunnels with which to woo her into married life.  Even now they are planning a spring litter on the premise that I will never get around to reinforcing the soft rubble at the base of my fence, and there will always be lettuce and spinach to fill the bellies of hungry offspring.

Sadly, they are probably right. I have been tied up with puppy nonsense and have allowed that part of the garden to regress into primeval jungle.  It has not taken long for wild grape to drape fences, for honeysuckle to grow through stored tomato cages and poke weed to put down tuberous roots that delve deeper than those of small trees.

This is where the benefits of having garden rooms come into play.  Just as I can shut the door on the pigsty that currently calls itself a teenager’s domain, I can shut the gate on an area of the garden I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with this season.  Winter will bring death to annual vines and perennial foliage, and spring will bring energy to a gardener now at the end of her seasonal fanaticism.  For the gardener, dreaming of future success usually overshadows the harsh reality of past and present failures.

September’s activities will focus on cuttings for the spring garden.  I will scurry around getting lights set up in the basement for tender plants whose leaves quail at the thought of temperatures dipping below the forty range:  crassula, echeveria, coleus, mandevilla and a Caliente series of pelargonium which sports a deep blue-red zonal blossom yet flops gently in the style of ivy-leaved parents.

But there will also be time for rest.  Nights on the deck will refresh, just as weekends at public gardens will inspire; and the cold mornings that coat the storm windows with condensation will send me to my books with a cup of coffee and a sharpened pencil.  Bliss.

So, roll on September!  I for one welcome the changing of the guard.

2018-02-20T20:41:27+00:00 By |

About the Author:

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Marianne is the mother of two, wife of one and the voice of The Small Town Gardener. She gardens and writes from her home in the scenic (and exceptionally convenient) heart of Virginia's wine country.

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