Winding Down

By: Anne Corke

Aug 20 2012

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Category: Gardening, Ontario

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The end is near! The end of summer, that is! Four-thirty wake-up calls from the robins are a thing of the past. In mid-summer, I can bounce out of bed at six, but now I’m having trouble convincing myself to get up and at ’em at seven. Temperatures are beginning to moderate. With some much-needed rain, the grass is recovering nicely from our summer drought. After a brilliant season, my daylilies are almost finished. Today, in the back garden, the last blooms of Emperor Butterfly and Hayfield Sunrise opened. The bright display of coneflowers has faded to brown and goldfinches are feasting on the ripening seedheads. The garden is dressed in a cool palette as the blue, white and mauve hues of flax, liatris and balloon flowers take centre stage, such a contrast after the riot of colour in July. In the front garden, only one lonely daylily, the very late Frans Hal, is still putting on a show, but the butterfly weed continues to bloom luring butterflies and hummingbirds with it’s bright orange flowers. Containers have been a modest success. The petunias are outstanding but the cosmos and calendula are done. If I manage to muster some ambition, I may pick up a couple of asters or ornamental cabbage to perk up the plantings. In the veggie department, the peppers are great, but the others, well, let’s just say it didn’t work out quite as planned. Over in the rock garden, the Brandywine tomatoes are providing us with the key ingredient for non-stop BLTs! If you’ve never grown Brandywine, you don’t know what you’re missing. In my humble opinion, they are the best tomatoes I have ever tasted. Try them next year – you won’t be disappointed.  Over on the south side, New Dawn rose has had a banner year. It produced an amazing volume of blooms and after a midsummer rest, is now reblooming for us! As in previous years, we continue to battle the bindweed, knowing that we will never prevail. All we can hope is that we can keep it in check and hopefully stop it spreading to other gardens. We have a number of wasp colonies around the house, behind the shutters, under the deck, in the deck railings and above the kitchen window. And close to the tap in the front garden, some newcomers have made a home for themselves. They are some sort of bee or wasp which live in the ground. There is a constant stream of these little insects coming and going all day long. While I enjoyed the bumblebee colony we had living in an abandoned birdhouse in our garage a few summers ago, I am not at all happy with this year’s guests and I’ll be relieved when they vacate the premises. Indeed, the slightly manic enthusiasm of spring, suffered by most gardeners, has given way to late summer apathy, and, much as I love my garden, my energy is waning and I’m looking forward to putting the garden to sleep. And I’m looking forward to the crisp air, brilliant blue skies and fiery foliage of another beautiful Ontario fall. Winter, though, will find me once more scanning the seed catalogues and making plans for next year’s garden. You just can’t keep a good gardener down!

Postscript: One thing I’ve noticed this year is the lack of proliferations on the daylilies. (These are little plantlets that sometimes grow on the scapes. They can be snipped off and planted and presto! you have another daylily!) I suspect that the drought is to blame.

Copyright 2012 Anne Corke

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