Sunday, August 29, 2010

As August sidles into September

The gates of summer, once open wide like the arms of absent friends
begin to close, haltingly, with rusty hinges creaking in cool mornings.
The fireflies that rose in steaming clouds from humid backyard lawns
have disappeared overnight as though deported to another country,
leaving thrumming cicadas overhead, pulsing like high voltage wires.
Now great baskets of tomatoes, sunset crimson and dusky orange,
delicate raspberries, their jeweled caps painting picking fingers purple,
with seed like tiny pearls, sweet and tart with days of rain and sun,
await the sauce pots and canning jars to hold their garnet ripening.......

Holin Kennen
Summer's End  an excerpt

I was so very touched by the above words, and they awakened such wonderful memories and images in my mind - tried to contact the poet for permission to reprint, but my efforts were in vain.
I have included as much information as I can about her bio, and provide the above link which will take you there.

Summer is saying her prolonged farewells and the garden has shaded her eyes, watching for fall to touch the tops of the hills and slide on down into the valley, trailing gold and scarlet in its wake.

Since the last diary entry the glory of the gorgeous white phlox has faded, but for most of August it was a wonderful flower to place on the altar each Sunday and pass along to gardenless people when the service was over.

The bee balm are weary with the summer's dance, - their bright red tutus are tattered and torn and they droop their heavy heads.  As a consolation the fragrant sweet peas have climbed the obelisk at whose base they were planted and proclaim to the world and its olfactory senses how beautiful they are and how perfectly yummy they smell!

The second flush of roses is fading somewhat, but they have been quite beautiful in the last two weeks, - especially the Abraham Darby and the little 'grocery store' roses.

The climbers have all given late summer the nod, and are blooming profusely.

The delphiniums and one solitary oriental poppy have recovered from their June orgy and are making another appearance on stage.

Down the road Charles tends his row of curly willows and they have responded with enthusiastic growth and the promise of a wonderful green hedge to line the driveway.

On the other side of the lane Caspar and I peer into the leafy dimness of the orchard, lit by ripening apples hanging like small gold and crimson lanterns.

The morning glory vine spreads along the side of the garage and holds court before noon and its afternoon nap.

But when all is said and done it is the time when the sunflower is seen in the land, nodding its golden head in varied corners and fields, along roadways and in the middle of gardens, - wherever its abundant and fertile seed has fallen it seizes the opportunity to bring sunshine to late summer days.

I walk out on to the deck and startle a dozen or so gold and rosy breasted finches, interrupting their breakfast at the Sunflower Bar and Grill.  They rise into the air and fly off to take cover in the curly willow.

Last week a full moon shone down on the garden

and in the daytime smoke drifted down from the wildfire west of town

Here is the sedum, preparing for September days, - the bees eagerly anticipating full bloom and full tummies.

Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear

anything.  I can't see anyting -
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green
stalks muscling up, 
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,

nor the tassels making
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker -
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing -
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

The tapping downwardness from the banyan feet -
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And therefore, let the immeasurable come,
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hiding in the dirt

swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.

Mary Oliver
Little Summer Poem Touching The Subject of Faith

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mid August

And only occasionally the fragrance of autumn rises on a cool damp morning.  Mostly the days still retain all the heat of summer, and the countryside is dry and vulnerable.  Almost four hundred fires in the province, and some days are still and smoky.

The garden, though, is changing imperceptibly as the flowers of fall start to mature and the roses bloom in the midst of their midsummer flush.

My thoughts turn to dividing and moving the iris, and finding a new home for the great orange daylily that has risen like a high rise amongst its neighbouring cottages, - the statice especially has become hidden under the vigorous flaring leaves of the lily.   The lovely low spirea has been invaded by roaming canterbury bells, and needs room to spread and form a little hedge.  I think of it along the orchard fence at the back, with a border of sweet smelling alyssum.

Sunflowers against the smoky hills the first day of August

Some intense volunteers determined in their exotic beauty

the vibrant orange daylily ' flossing' - which I understand is American slang for showing off!

 the garden on the 9th of August

and on the 14th, with the white phlox perfuming in the daytime and the evening scented stock at night.

the arbour climber blooming enthusiastically again

The roses bloom again, the big rusty spider spins his web outside the elegant birdhouse,
the sedum is in the pink and the first of the asters portends a great massive bloom well
into October.

Lots of weeding to do, -the large non-flowering violets to dig up and the Chinese lanterns
who managed to sneak into the country to be attended to, - lovely in  their orange splendour and I'm glad I turned a blind eye to some of them!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The first day of August, 2010

Well, July has come and gone in just the twinkling of an eye, the space of a heartbeat, - quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.

"Answer July—
         Where is the Bee—
             Where is the Blush—
         Where is the Hay?

  Ah, said July—
            Where is the Seed—
            Where is the Bud—
            Where is the May—
            Answer Thee—Me—"
-  Emily Dickinson, Answer July

It has left us with memories of lilies and roses, a friendly swathe of whites daisies, the last of the delphiniums and the bee balm at it's very best.  The gayest memory of all, and perhaps the most fleeting, is that of the volunteer poppies and wildflowers that made such a merry bed along the side of the trailer cum loom room, and swallowed the new iris and peony bed in their wonderful exhuberance.

The foxgloves and the Canterbury bells that I planted this spring are sturdy, but not showing any signs of blooming this year.  However, they may be September belles.

In the centre of the front bed the large orange daylily has grown to gargantuan proportions, crowding the neighbouring phlox and the statice and peonies, - they are marked for removal to the perennial beds I hope to make at the back, with a half a dozen more inches of nice rich soil, - will the compost produce that much?  Surely with the hundred of wheelbarrow loads that get dumped on it, - the results of weeding and deadheading and cutting back of spent plants.

There are other plants in the garden that should be divided and moved - the lavender daisy and the perennial alyssum, the bee balm and bits of delphinium that would probably flourish in new soil.

The sedum blooms are growing large and promising,  and the delphinium that were cut down at the end of their blooming are once again a couple of feet tall, - healthy and vibrant and ready to bloom well into autumn.

Another harbinger of fall, - the sunflowers that shade what was the potted garden and is now a little cutting garden.  Not too successful this year, - the white nicotiana turned out to be pink and the white flax is not what I had thought it would be, but the evening scented stock is glorious in the evening, and the scented sweet peas are just starting to bloom and spread their fragrance on the night air.

I am deadheading like mad, trying to keep ahead of the heritage sweet peas that have grown to the top of their extended support, and are beautiful to behold with their lovely delicate blooms - no fragrance!

Along the garage the morning glories are starting to make a nice showing, - - along with nasturtiums they seem the best bet for that particular spot, and I won't try to grow sweet peas there again unless the soil is greatly enriched and an enclosure built to extend it another six inches or so.

More July treasures.

"Fairest of the months!  Ripe summer's queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear."
-   R. Combe Miller