Late August is bathing us in heat this year and the steady rains have brought on the harvest. We modestly refer to our garden as “the farm” or “potager” and this is the time of year when it shines. Produce begins to trickle in and suddenly there’s a little more interest in the backyard.
Eggplant and peppers have been going out, onions are always popular, tomatoes are on their way, and beans are yet to come. The harvest is late due to planter’s procrastination but who out there hasn’t ever fallen behind? At this time of year even I fix up a plate of veggies, and they aren’t even deep fried 🙂
I admire a neat garden with raised, raked beds and straight rows of perfect plantings, but that’s nowhere even close to my garden. The potager is tumbledown mix of flowers, crops, and all kinds of odds and ends that found an open spot of soil and made it their home. Phlox are never turned away, and earlier in the month they started their summertime concerto and the music still plays on through the heat. For this I consider myself lucky, since earlier in the spring between spidermites and drought I got the feeling it would be a down year for the tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).
The phlox make me happy, but the other flowers which add to the non-agricultural chaos also make me smile, and the tall Verbena bonariensis leads the way with their bee and butterfly attracting bloom heads.
One area of responsible neatness is the boxwood hedge which edges the two forward sides of the garden. After three years the small plants have finally begun to look nearly respectable. To celebrate this milestone I spent way too much money on what I hope will be a set of premium hedge shears. The electric trimmer has been shelved and I took the quieter, more contemplative path of manual trimming. For me it’s relaxing and I think I’m one of the few who actually enjoys this job.
Besides boxwood and phlox, chrysanthemums (ok, new name dendranthema) are starting to make a serious play for potager real estate. This spring I added even more of the larger flowered football types, trying to stick with anything which might be hardy through the winter. I’d try to explain this growing obsession with mums but honestly after just admitting I enjoy hedge trimming I’m not sure there’s much I can say to defend this last quirk.
Dahlias. I like dahlias. I think I’ve already confessed to that. Of course a late planting gives late flowers, and you know me and late.
Sometimes late isn’t anyone’s fault. For the second year in a row I’ve had these gladiolus bulbs overwinter in the open garden. Against better advice I even transplanted them in June and look at that, the clump still managed to send up two bloom stalks. If this keeps up I’ll need to divide the clumps next year since the other clump is up to 8 flower stalks!
But procrastination does have its down side. Although the persicaria and rudbeckia have never looked better next to the potager, the light green ‘turf’ in the bed is 100% weeds…. and this is still supposed to be a red border, which rudbeckia is not. Also the trellis never received a solid footing, and was never officially planted. I guess that’s what the plans for next season are made of!
Enjoy your own harvest, whether it be fruits or flowers, contentment or excitement. The season is here and as long as the heat doesn’t kill you first you can shelve these moments away in your mind for those dark days in January.