I’m ok with summer being over. Not excited, but ok with it, and I guess that’s good enough since neither myself nor anyone else can do much about it anyway. Fall follows summer and that’s just the way things roll here in NE Pennsylvania. At least we have butterflies this year, and in this garden the butterflies have been the highlight of every garden stroll.
People enjoy talking about how beneficial butterflies are and I’m not going to argue with them but if you think about it they’re right up there with cabbageworms and tomato hornworms in terms of caterpillar crawling and plant eating. They don’t do all that much to benefit the gardener, but they’re just so darn pretty to look at.
If you want to consider a beneficial insect the praying mantis might come to mind. Maybe. Not since the garden of Eden has all life pleasantly revolved around working purely for mankind and the praying mantis is definitely a New Testament kind of creature. Its instinct is to kill and eat (not necessarily in that order) anything from bees to grasshoppers to butterflies and it doesn’t matter if the gardener would prefer the later to stick around (uneaten) for pollination purposes. Scattered butterfly wings under your flowers is a good sign of a fat mantis above.
The chrysanthemums are only second party to the carnage. It’s not their fault they’re so attractive right now right as the Monarchs are moving through.
I couldn’t care less about chrysanthemums in April, but now as everything else is calling it quits I wish I had an entire border of them. I bet I say that every fall but your guess is as good as mine as to if it will ever happen. So far the one thing I have managed to get done is collect, and grow (and kill) quite a few different mums and fortunately manage to have a few nice ones left to flower each fall.
What I really want is some of the big “football” types, ideally the obscenely large, overfussed, and overfertilized types which show up in the better greenhouse displays at this time of year. There’s about a zero percent chance of that happening but it doesn’t stop me from hoping that someday, something close to a miracle will take place, and one of my larger flowered types will do the impossible. For now I’m just happy I found (mailordered from Mums of Minnesota) a few ‘footballs’ hardy enough to overwinter here without me jumping through hoops… or even just jumping anywhere… I’m still feeling seasonally lazy.
Although I’ve been ordering and labeling and trying to keep mum names straight, I’m much less snobby about the chrysanthemums than other plants such as say… um… snowdrops. My barren soil seems to make an excellent seedbed for mums and I try not to rip them all out during those frantic days of May.
I welcome the seedlings, I welcome the fussier ones, but I also welcome any leftover autumn decorations found on our or the neighbor’s porch. Most of these disposable greenhouse mums don’t make it through the winter, but a few surprise us with green life in the spring.
The mums and Monarchs may be stealing the show but the beautiful weather sure doesn’t hurt either. Our gardener did make an effort last week to mow and trim and between that and the greening lawn I think he may eventually snap out of his autumn doldrums, but when temperatures are so comfortable and the lighting is so relaxed I don’t see much hope in the way of any major garden projects being started.
I’m fine with enjoying the weekend while the weather is still on our side. There’s always next week to start fall cleanup and if it doesn’t happen…. maybe the winter winds might do just fine on their own. As long as I dig up the dahlias and cannas before December, that’s the kind of timetable I have in mind. Have a great weekend!