“When summer opens, I see how fast it matures, and fear it will be short; but after the heats of July and August, I am reconciled, like one who has had his swing, to the cool of autumn.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I suppose it has been a short summer by most people’s standards. The days have rarely risen above the low 80s; the rain has been rather relentless (although, personally, I prefer it to the drought and ridiculous heat of last summer). Although we’re only half way through August, the evenings have been so cool that you can already see the slow creep of yellow in the tree leaves. The earth still retains its heat overnight, so upon waking, a cool mist lays lightly over the landscape. There is the slightest hint of autumn on the horizon.
By mid-August, not only am I reconciled to the arrival of Autumn, I’m longing for it. My energy levels wane in the persistent humidity of late summer, and my frustration with trying to garden while swatting away swarms of gnats, mosquitoes, and deer flies has reached a crescendo. Suddenly, being in the garden for any period of time seems more of a burden, then a delight.
It doesn’t help that by August the majority of the borders are looking tired. The second bloom of roses, catmint, and geranium haven’t quite arrived. The phlox look lovely, as do the hydrangea and sweet peas, but the Shasta daisies are nearing their prime and the day lilies are looking a little worse for wear.
The zinnia generally add to the late summer show, but the cool temps and excessive rains have hindered their growth.
Thankfully, the dahlias and the hot border are just hitting their stride.
This border will continue its glorious reign until the first heavy frost of October (if we’re lucky).
The vegetable garden is usually in full swing in August as well. However, this has been a less than stellar year for the veggies.
Most years I’m so tired of squash by August, that I’m ready to pull the plants. This summer I can count on one hand the number of squash I’ve harvested; ditto with the cucumbers.
The Contender green beans — my trusty garden staple — have not failed me thankfully, and they’re heading into their 2nd round. The pole beans have performed well too. The onions and carrots also did well; the beets, not so much.
The zinnia look sad and half their usual height; same with the sunflowers (below).
The pumpkins look healthy, but don’t seem to be producing as prolifically as they usual.
Lesson learned from this rainy and cool summer…more raised beds are needed in the veg garden. With our clay soil, there was simply too much standing water in the garden for most of the plants to flourish. Whereas everything grown in a raised bed — lettuces, kale, chard, onions, shallots, and carrots — did well.