The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Think About It - A Mid-Summer Walk in the Garden


By Don Meyer, Ph.D., Columnist

Friday, August 2, 2013

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.”
- Thomas Cooper
Throughout the growing season I love walking through my flower garden.Even from one day to the next subtle changes catch my eye with amazement.But, a mid-summer walk reveals a landscape unique to that time of the year.
By mid-summer the daffodils and tulips and allium are long gone.The fuchsia and red and pink rhododendron blossoms have dried up and dropped off the beautiful green bushes.Even the brilliant blue and white irises, fragrant lilacs and pink and white peonies, the deep blue clematis, the delicate white lily of the valley, the yellow forsythia along with the wisteria blooms are all only visible now by the photos I took.
About six years ago we acquired three beautiful red bud trees which signal early spring with their stunning and unique light lavender buds.They grow along the edge of my garden and proclaim with great boldness that spring has come.But their buds are now simply a memory just like the pink blossoms of the weeping cherry tree. The white blossoms of the yellow delicious apple tree and the Asian pear tree have been replaced with young, green fruit.
It is mid-summer and the remnants of the spring season are now completely gone.But in their place are a host of new colors, shapes and fragrances.Just outside our front door is my herb garden with several varieties of mint tea.Soon I can harvest those fresh leaves and after steeping them in hot water, I will add ice and a splash of sugar for a delicious taste that takes me back to the old-fashioned meadow tea I drank as a child on the farm.
I love the multi-shades of green on the ivy, ferns, and hosta interspersed at just the right places by the fence and trees.The six clumps of saw grass will soon need to be tied up along with the zebra grass which will itself reach nearly ten feet tall.This year I bought three new elephant ear bulbs and it seems every day a new leaf opens.Even the hyacinth beans are halfway up the trellis.
A country garden would be incomplete without a few annuals between the perennials.Small and large zinnias splash their bold colors declaring, “Look at me. Look at me.”Pink, white, and fuchsia cosmos brighten any garden spot as do red and blue petunias.And, I must always have plenty of marigolds so I can breathe in their wonderful, unique odor.
Several standard perennials are necessities, too.The white Shasta daisies, pink coneflowers, and black-eyed Susans will only last a few weeks but in the mid-summer they are at their peak.Multi-colored and fragrant phlox always make a great statement along with the bright yellow coreopsis.
The most stunning plants are the hydrangea which someone called “garden’s exclamation point.”The white, blue, pink blossoms of my nine bushes speak volumes each time I walk past them.
It is too early for the hardy hibiscus or even the nearly six inch wide summer hibiscus.They will come later when the dahlias and thistle flowers are blooming.In time, the tiger lilies and the daylilies will also show their orange, and pink and yellow colors. The butterfly bushes are almost ready to welcome another reunion of monarch butterflies.And the red leaves of the sugar maple tree and flame bushes will come even later still.
I have been describing a country flower garden.I remember our vegetable garden where I worked so hard as a child.For me, flowers are a labor of love; vegetables are hard work.My herb garden, two tomato plants, a few onions and several raspberry bushes will grow my only fresh produce.
Hugh Johnson wisely said, “No two gardens are the same.No two days are the same in one garden.”
Spring is over.Mid-summer is here.
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President ofValley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA
Responses can be emailed to president@vfcc.edu
Official page:Facebook.com/DrDonMeyer
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Archives at www.vfcc.edu/thinkaboutit