Late July. Aside from the zing of color from the potted plants, the front garden is mostly shades of green. Soothing in its own way, but the front garden certainly doesn’t have the same punch as it did when the evening primroses were in bloom.
On the other hand, the back garden—with its begonias, lilies, bee balm, and black-eyed Susan’s—is pretty much at its best. With our daughter Dee home, we are having lunch, drinks, and dinner on the patio where we can admire the flowers and watch the comings and goings of the hummingbirds, the bees, the chipmunks, other birds, and various insect visitors.
Here are close-ups of some the flowers.
Despite the heat, despite the humidity, despite the haze that is blowing in from the fires in the western United States, summer is such a sweet time.
In Maine, July is a sweet time of year. The days are long, the flowers are abloom, and slippery roads are but a distant memory. (Fortunately, Clif and I work from home and therefore do not have to worry about slippery roads.)
Dee, our eldest daughter, is coming home for a visit, and I’m taking some time off to get things ready—do a little cleaning, do a little cooking. What a thrill it will be to see her after eighteen months. It’s the longest we’ve ever gone.
I’m not sure whether I’ll be taking one or two weeks off, but I’ll certainly be back in August, another sweet month when the black-eyed Susans are in bloom, the crickets begin to sing, and the grasshoppers are buzzing, buzzing, buzzing. I am always enthralled by the sounds of August.
I leave you with a picture from the especially shady part of my garden. As regular readers know, there are no truly sunny spots in our yard on the edge of the woods. And, yes, I long for a cottage garden. Somehow, the grass is always greener where the sun shines.
See you all in a week or two!
Most mornings, I listen to music on YouTube as I check emails and read blog posts. It is a part of the day I greatly enjoy as I hear old favorites and discover new ones.
This morning I was going to listen to Foster The People’s Tiny Desk Concert—courtesy of NPR—but the rain stopped me. My desk is by a window overlooking the front yard, and even though the day was cool and rainy, it was warm enough to leave the window open.
As I was about to click on Foster The People, I became aware of the gently falling rain and the soft dripping sound as it fell on the road and the front lawn. I heard various birds—a cardinal, a tufted titmouse, a chickadee, goldfinches. From the little pond up the road, the deep croak of a bullfrog. And because I don’t live in paradise, the occasional car or truck. All sounds of everyday life from my home at the edge of the woods.
Later in the morning, the rain abated, and I went outside with my camera.
I took pictures of snapdragons in the deck box,
a mouse-ear hosta in bloom,
a red daylily above Minerva the cat,
the flower of another hosta, whose name I do not remember,
and a web with jewels resting on a coleus on the deck.
And for readers who are interested, here is a link to the NPR Tiny Desk concert featuring Foster The People.
Yesterday, I visited a garden with 192 varieties of daylilies. Yes, you read that right—192 varieties. The garden belongs to my friend Carolyn Downing. On one-and-a-quarter acres behind her home in Winthrop, she grows this astonishing number of daylilies, which she sells to flower enthusiasts who visit her gardens. The name of Carolyn’s business is Obsession Daylilies. What a sweet obsession!
Carolyn told me that thirty-six years ago, she started making the garden behind her home, but it was only four years ago that she started devoting a large portion of it to daylilies. There was no organized plan. Instead, there was a passion for plants, and Carolyn’s business sprang from her love of flowers.
Full disclosure: Daylilies are one of my favorite flowers, and when I stood in Carolyn’s backyard, I hardly knew where to look. In mid-July, the daylilies are in glorious bloom, and right now they are about a week away from their peak. I was dazzled by so many different colors—yellow, red, pink, orange, white, near-black, coral. As Carolyn noted, the only color missing is blue. She also told me that there are a few varieties—red—that do well in part shade. I was oh so happy to hear this, and next spring I’ll be visiting Obsession Daylilies to buy some plants for my gardens.
Here are a few of the splendid daylilies from Carolyn’s garden.
With my wee camera, it is difficult to get the broad sweep of a large garden, but these pictures will at least give you some idea of the loveliness of Obsession Daylilies.
Although Carolyn specializes in daylilies, there are other flowers in her garden, including liatris, black-eyed Susans, daisies, and poppies. Snappy garden art punctuates the beds, along with trees and hedges.
There is even a frog, with a sign pointing the way to its home.
As I wandered around this place of beauty that was full of fluttering, jumping life—frogs, bees, birds, and butterflies—I thought about how love is at the center of so much creativity, whatever form it might take.
Carolyn’s gardens shine with love, and that love radiates over everything, making this a special place. Blogging friends, if you live in the Winthrop area and have an ardor for flowers, put Obsession Daylilies on your list of gardens to visit.
Carolyn would like you to call first, and her number is 207-377-6316. Although she would be glad to sell you a plant, Carolyn is happy to have people just drop by and look at her amazing garden.
And for folks who are keen on flowers, that’s about as good as it gets.
As the title of this post indicates, today is another hot one for Maine, complete with a heat advisory warning. The heat index values are projected to be from 95°F to 100°F. Because we live inland, I’ve no doubt we will be on the 100°F side of things.
Here was the temperature yesterday afternoon. Note: The thermometer is in the shade.
Recently, I read that more people die from heat than they do from cold. I was a little surprised to learn this, but after discussing it with Clif, I understood. With the cold, you can bundle up to keep warm, and small structures, ranging from igloos to tents, will trap body heat. Sleeping bags will keep you toasty even in frigid weather.
There is no real equivalency for coping with extreme heat. It is true that insulation and building color make a difference, but they only go so far. We human beings are not equipped to deal with high heat.
Except we have no choice. Temperatures are rising, and those of us who are older know from first-hand experience that the weather is much hotter now than it was when we were growing up. Those old days are gone, and we must cope, which no doubt will involve air conditioners for folks like us who never thought they’d need them.
From time to time I have wondered if Clif and I have been too extreme in our response to climate change. Unless there is some sort of emergency, we will not fly. We severely limit our driving. Rare is the day when we leave Winthrop—good thing we live in such a sweet little town with a great library, a grocery store, and a brewery that has become a gathering place. Every two weeks or so, we drive to Augusta, a small city and the state’s capital. We pick up things that we can’t get in Winthrop and meet with friends at a local café for coffee and tea. We have a farm share with our own Farmer Kev and receive bi-weekly deliveries of fresh veggies from his farm. Finally, we don’t eat beef (or any other meat), whose production is a huge source of greenhouse gas.
But with the heat wave that has hit the country, I realize we have not been too extreme. Rather, we are not extreme enough. We should replace our gas hot water heater with an electric one. We should add more insulation to the attic to help reduce the amount of fuel we use. We should replace all our windows, which are the original ones from when our fifty-two-year-old home was built. And topping the list of all those shoulds: We should be driving an electric car.
Scorching heat leads to sobering thoughts, and to lighten the tone, I’ll end with some pictures of flowers and my gardens, which are still looking their best. Somehow, even during this time of climate crisis, we can be delighted by flowers and things that grow.
My gardens are what I call June and July gardens, when there are a few other colors besides green to liven the yard. The slugs and snails have yet to chew the hostas to ribbons, and everything still looks fresh. In early summer, the gardens are at their best, and I never get tired of looking at them.
It is not easy to take pictures to get the sweep of the beds, but the following pictures will give you some idea of what the gardens look like right now.
Here is the front yard. As I’m sure you can see, there’s still a lot of green. But look! There is also some yellow.
And if you look a little closer, you can see the purple of Jacob’s ladder, which seems to be thriving. I am particularly fond of yellow next to purple, and I will be planting more Jacob’s ladder next year.
The yellow repeats itself in the backyard. The evening primroses are one of the few flowers that actually thrive in these gardens on the edge of the woods. Wish the evening primroses lasted longer.
Like the evening primroses, summer, beautiful summer, is all too brief.
Last weekend the weather was fine—hot, but not too hot, and dry. Cooler weather from Canada had pushed the horrible heat and humidity away. Many thanks, Canada! Exactly the way summer in Maine should be, and perfect for everything we had planned.
On Saturday, Clif and I set up a book table at The Art Walk, one of the nicest gift shops in the area. Readers who live nearby, do keep this store in mind when you want a special gift for a special person, including yourself. (I might have bought a present for a special person who lives far away.) The prices and selection are fantastic, and everything is handmade by local artists and crafters.
Barbara Walsh, another Winthrop writer, set up next to me.
Unfortunately, the day was slow, and not many people came by. Never mind. I had a great time chatting with Barbara as well as Nick and his mother Terry, who run the store. Terry even brought a box of cannolis and shared them with us. So nice and so tasty.
After that, it was on to getting together with our friends Dawna and Jim, who recently bought a new house, a sweet little ranch with beautiful gardens. We brought a bottle of wine, glasses, and a wine opener. That way we could toast them and wish them many happy years in their new home. (Their house is pretty darned empty as they will be moving in next week.)
Sunday was another fine day, and I spent a couple of hours on the patio. I read the paper and caught up on blog reading and commenting. Naturally, I took pictures. I might have even snapped several photos of little zipping visitors, but you will have to wait until Wednesday to see those.
In the meantime, the view from my chair…
The predominate color is still green but we are soon approaching the time when my gardens are at their best—June and July—when yellow and red show their pretty faces.
Alas, the irises are on their way out, but here’s a final shot of couple of this year’s bloom.
Farewell, my lovelies.
Along with buying lots of annuals to brighten my shady yard, I also bought a handful of perennials, including Jacob’s Ladder, which is now in bloom. The flowers are modest but pretty, and I am already planning to buy more plants for various spots in the relatively moist areas in the front garden. Plus, now that I have hoses in the front, I can baby, at least a little, the plants that like extra water.
This plant always puts me in mind of the Bruce Hornsby song, “Jacob’s Ladder,” and the plaintive line “All I want from tomorrow is just to get it better than today.”
Step by step, one by one…in the garden. And in life?