Another weekend chore checked off! I’ve finished with the flower beds.
This year, I’ve decided to stick with the zinnias, which were great last year. I’ve gone with orange, yellow, and two unknown color types: state fair mix and Magellan mix. To give the beds even more color, I’ve lined the rear of the beds with Victoria Blue Salvia Farinacea. The planters have pink and white geraniums, with some of the other flowers mixed in at random.
I’ve got dirt under my fingernails, I’ve torn loose the same patch of skin on the palm of my hand that always gets torn loose because the heel of the hand shovel rubs against it as I dig — and I forgot, as always, to wear a garden glove — and I am a happy camper. I always try to plant as soon after Mother’s Day as I can.
The red Salvias were the munching favorites of our furry backyard creatures, but have come on strong in the last few weeks. The little Celosias didn’t do grow appreciably and were routinely pulverized by any heavy rainstorm. The Marigolds did well, as expected, and put forth lots of bright orange blooms. The Zinnias did best of all — growing like crazy, adding huge gouts of spilling yellow color to the beds, and giving the patio a nice, wild garden feel.
Zinnias will definitely make the cut next year. Celosias, not so much.
We’ve reached the point in the summer where all of the fruits of your spring yard work have begun to, well, rot. Those loathsome weeds have once again invaded your flower beds. Your shrubs have sprouted stray shoots that make them look as unkempt as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Your brickwork looks more like weedwork.
Today I decided to tackle those problems. It was a brilliantly sunny, hot summer day. I began by trimming the shrubs and the fast-growing bushes that the neighbors planted to screen their house from ours. Those plants grow at a ridiculous rate and have virtually made it impossible to grow anything in our side yard, so I cut them back. It felt good to use the clipper and, after some liberal pruning, to see the sunshine once again reaching our hostas. Then it was on to weeding and watering the beds — nothing like reliving a bit of your childhood and drinking cold water straight from the hose on a hot day! — and finally to the brickwork on the patio and the front walkway.
Some people would hate to waste a beautiful summer day on yard work, but I find it immensely satisfying. For those of us whose jobs often do not involve clear cut success or immediate congratulations on a job well done, yard work allows you to have a sense of prompt accomplishment. You begin with a weedy, somewhat overgrown yard and you end with neat, tidy grounds, well manicured flower beds, dirt-stained hands, and a budding farmer’s tan. After a yard work Saturday, a cold beer sure tastes good.
As we approach the end of summer and feel the first chills of approaching autumn, it’s crucial to hang on to the last few sultry moments of the fading season. So it was today, as we are enjoying a day of clear weather with the temperature in the 70s and brilliant sunshine.
It was a good day to go out and nose around the colorful garden beds ringing our brick patio. We planted marigolds there at the end of May, and they have thrived through the initial rainy days and more recently through many dry days, growing thick and bursting with color. The flowers almost look like beds of glowing coals, filled with bright golds, rich oranges, deep crimsons, and other dazzling shades of yellow and red.
I find the flowers irresistible on a warm sunny day, and I am not alone: bumblebees and butterflies, intoxicated by the heady scent of pollen, also were out in force, working hard and getting a snootful of the flowers. Bees in particular are fascinating to watch. The phrase “busy as a bee” is apt. They move single-mindedly from flower to flower, put a steady grip on the petals, and thrust their heads deep into the recesses of the flowers. They are wholly oblivious to nearby humans.
Butterflies, on the other hand, are like nervous suitors dressed in their Sunday finest. With colorful markings on their wings in full display, the butterflies flit from flower to flower, alighting for a few moments as if staying only for a brief dalliance. They quickly go about their business, but when the shadow of a human being crosses their path they immediately flutter away, dipping and swerving, to land again a few flowers away — and the whole act begins all over again.