Between the above average heat and lack of rain, this summer has seemed unpleasant and relentless. I have to say that July and August have always been my least favorite months of the year. Strange, I know, for someone who loves to garden. But in the northeast, July and August translate into hot, humid days, too many biting bugs, too many pests that spend all of their time devouring my flowers and veggies (e.g., Japanese beetles, lily beetles, squash beetles); the demise of the June explosion of growth and color in the gardens, and did I mention the heat and humidity? Yeah, not a fan.
Although we’re beginning to see glimpses of the late summer and autumn flowers — the dahlias, zinnias, cosmos in the garden, and wildflowers such as Joe-Pye Weed (above), goldenrod, daisies of many types, and Queen’s Anne Lace — the gardens are looking wilty and beaten down by heat and drought. Since we rely on a well for our water, watering is reserved for any new trees and shrubs, container plants and any vegetables that are on their last leg. The other perennials and annuals are required to tough it out during the periods of no rain, which this summer, have stretched as long as 2 weeks or more.
So, rather than deal with the depressing reality of my flower gardens, this last Sunday we went on a blackberry foraging expedition in our woods. It was early morning; the the air was still cool and the bugs not entirely awake yet. The brambles are laden with blackberries this year — thousands upon thousands of them.
We found a few raspberries tucked in among the blackberries as well. We spent an hour or so walking, gathering berries, listening to the bird chatter, and taking photos.
It was wonderful, until the day began to heat up and the mosquitoes found us.
But we returned home with quarts of berries that were added to bags of raspberries and blueberries already in the freezer, waiting to be made into jams and jellies in another month.