Woman with trowel: Enjoying the late summer garden

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Dahlia ‘Nuit d’ete.’Image credit: M. Brehaut.

Oh, this is a wonderful time of year. The weather has settled into a relaxed series of perfect days, and the garden brings out all of its ‘look at me’. Fall displays are beginning and we are starting to get the floral kaboom before the die down. At this time of year, gardens give us the gentle prod that summer will not last much longer, and we had better get at it.

I love late summer gardens. They give me months of anticipation, they are glorious when they arrive, and they often die down beautifully, changing as the plants set seed.

Angelica sylvestris ‘Vicar’s Mead.’ Image credit: M. Brehaut.

The big plants are all at their tallest, letting us watch the breezes move through the garden. Their height creates a new view: up. The sheer number of flowers allows me to calmly clip blooms for the porch table – my indicator of sufficient garden excess. Neighbours stroll by, stopping to enjoy what is on offer.

The lower light at early morning and late afternoon highlights grasses and the underside of leaves, starring a plant that during the day was just part of the whole – the laser pointer that says “have another look at this beauty…”. The earlier evenings allow us to enjoy the garden as darkness comes. We can see how white blooms reflect the dusk light, remaining visible while the blue ones disappear.

Veronicastrum virginicum. Image credit: M. Brehaut.

So what shines at this point in the garden cycle? Dahlias come to mind as they pretty much slap you in the face for your attention – I love them, and the bigger the better. My Joe Pye weed towers at eight feet; their heavy flower heads set the bees into a frenzy. Grasses are at their best, whether still green or browning up for their fall look. Veronicastrum, acanthus and echinacea are all blooming away in a glut of pretty. My six foot sanguisorba dots the sky with its small bottlebrush red blooms, looking vibrant next to the Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’. It’s a madhouse out there.

Echinacea and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

Soon, the rains will come and I will put away the hoses for another year. The garden will die down and I will clear it in stages. Again, I will have only pictures to hold me through the winter. All of that will come. But for now, the days are warm, the garden is bursting with life, and I get to sit here in gratitude.

Acanthus mollis. Image credit: M. Brehaut.

Last modified: August 27, 2012

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