Revitalizing Rain!

September 2, 2010

A  gentle rain in the early hours yesterday petered into nothing by nine in the morning, but today we got what we really needed; a night and most of the day of water, water, water.

And now so much that has come back for an encore seems to be blue! Delphinium are back, powdery blue and delicate, butterfly blue scabiosa is tentatively blooming again and – huge surprise – the Virginia bluebells, a spring flower that I never cut back, is putting on a show. How delightful!

The rain broke the Unexpected Gladiola in half and pushed some pampas grass blooms onto the driveway. I lashed them to stronger fellows with plant tape and watched them stand upright again. The butterfly bush needed deadheading badly, so I grabbed the Fiskars and started making those judicious cuts, carefully leaving new buds intact to keep it blooming. This really should be trimmed every day, like the balloon flower. But while the balloon flower can be pinched with fingers from the lawn while I might be in a suit and heels), the butterfly bush needs scissors, adequate shoes and clothes that won’t be ruined by snagging twigs. You can see why this gets a less frequent trim.

The sunflowers are like a child’s painting against the blue sky, the flowers vibrant and joyous on upright stems, everything seeming to lift up and up. I am of two minds about these. I wanted the giant, impressive, overwhelming heads that are 10 to 12 inches across, nodding and dropping seeds. These are more in the 6 inch range, but are so charming nonetheless. They are a curious mix of sturdy and ethereal, drawing bees instead of birds, the little brothers of those bigger flowers.

The foxglove blooms are getting bigger and heavier, a splash of magenta rising in bells from the green of their leaves, fountaining out from the middle. The garlic chives seem to be at their peak, flooding the garden with white waves, ambitiously growing volunteers wherever possible.

The hibiscus blooms are now sodden with rain, flopping in the breeze. The brussel sprouts are now rapidly growing, beginning to look like edible heads, still very very small, but starting to look more and more like those familiar treats. I know brussel sprouts don’t seem like everyone’s favorite vegetable, but sauteed in olive oil and onion, sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese, they are absolutely lip-smacking. I am reminded again and again that the watermelon experiment really took much more than it gave – in terms of sunshine, growing space, water and certainly actual fruit. I figured out that I don’t need to build fancy upright supports for the middle of the garden next year. I’ll just get the green plant supports, metal rods covered in green plastic, sink them in a line along the middle of the bed and lash chicken wire to them. Perfect solution for peas, runner beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.

I take a ripe red roma tomato and bite into it. They are getting sweeter and sweeter – delicious and juicy and red. The overwhelming zucchini leaves probably didn’t help their development either. There are dozens now, small and large, green and yellow and red.

Amidst all this rebloom and regrowth, it is not difficult to remember that we are on the downswing. Peony leaves blacken, speedwell dies back, anathera is nothing more than dried sticks. Acorns drop, the coneflower withers and darkens, the weather chills, the firepit looks cozier and cozier.

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