Sunday, August 7, 2011

This is What Summer Brought

In May I wrote these words, "Ahhh, summer, when every person has a chance to become a child again. I cannot wait to see what else is in store." At the time I was a little tentative and unsure about what summer would bring. It is now a quarter way through August and I thought I would share in pictures a little of what summer brought me thus far.

For a long time I resisted the wild brown-eyed Susan's that moved into my gardens on their own without being invited. They used to take up one corner of my garden faithfully every year and often I would pluck them out. I had something against their color, school bus yellow I called it. But then last year they started strategically planting themselves between other flowers in the garden and I fell in love with them, not only for their perseverance, but also for their little pop of gold amongst the pinks. Needless to say, the color has grown on me.

Monarchs are always visiting here, this picture was taken a couple of days ago, the one that follows is last from summer...

I took this picture accidentally and realized I have my own set of twin sisters living along my brook, I had never seen them this way. (If you click on the picture to enlarge it, then click again and use your arrow buttons to navigate, you can see the man in the moon between the trees.)

This is a fairy lily. It was born from a hundred year old plant that came from my dear friend's grandmother. She was sad, as her fairy lily had not bloomed yet this summer, so she asked her (great) grandmother to send her a bloom. The next day, when she returned home from a conference, a bloom awaited her.

I call this the cosmo forest. Every year cosmos seed themselves here and grow into cosmo trees. The cosmo trees even dwarf my new Japanese red maple and baby flowering crab. Alyssum, snapdragons and even a sunflower from the birds seed here on their own too, so it is a "happy accident" annual garden too!

I planted these gladiolas for August blooms and because it is my son's birth flower. They bring cheer for his annual birthday party. This year we will be in the Grand Canyon for his 14th birthday. :)

A few good tomatoes. These are Early Girls. We ate one already. This is only my second year growing tomatoes, I'm doing okay with it. 

This planter consists of alyssum that reseeded there, purple pansies that have thrived quite nicely since spring, due to efficient deadheading, and a fuchsia plant I snuck from my mother's annual pile one day when I was watering her flowers. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see a lichen covered fairy, gifted to me from my beloved neighbor, and residing here for at least a dozen years.

This planter is filled with the snapdragons my sweet neighbor gave to me in spring, along with a fuchsia petunia that reseeded itself, and some alyssum I transferred from some pea stone. My neighbor told me yesterday, that when he sits just right on his screened porch, the top snapdragons, which peek over the fence between our yards, are framed perfectly by the wooden square around the edge of one of the panels of his porch. I had already written this story and sent it to him. I am glad we can share the snapdragons. And today, I sat and watched a female hummingbird go to every colored snapdragon, and each petunia, getting her fill of nectar. I decided her message to me was, "There is an abundance of sweetness available to you now."

Here's what it looked like in early spring.

This front planter, one of two matching, goes along with my "making do" theme. The purple pansies that were in it since spring became very leggy and tired. I went hunting for end-of-season annuals the last week of July but did not find anything that spoke to me. So, one day, while sipping a good cuppa, early morn' by the pool, I came up with a clever idea to collect a couple faithful bloomers in my perennial gardens, (catmint and campanula),  and a soft silvery lambsear for the center, along with some already established alyssum borrowed from the cosmo forest, and a pair of not-quite-blooming cleomes that seeded themselves in the crack between the driveway and house, some are still there as you can see. The results were precious. Ahhh, I love making do. (click on picture to enlarge)

Lastly I have to give my herbs honorable mention, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, (and summer savory, tarragon, basil, oregano, chive, lemon balm and lavender,) they have already participated in several batches of fresh, multi-herb pesto, often at the final hour of me fretting what's for dinner. :)

Multi-Herb Pesto

2 1/2 cups of fresh herbs (I use all of my favorites, basil, chives, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and even throw in torn baby Swiss chard leaves from my garden--any green will do)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you can add more depending on how you like your consistency)
3/4 cup crushed walnuts
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves fresh garlic (less or more to taste)

I place the herbs in my blender and top with oil, walnuts, cheese and chopped garlic cloves and alternate between chop and puree until the mixture is liquefied. I serve this on top of barbecued salmon, or chicken or pasta.