People often ask me why I bother with gardening when my energy levels are limited. I could give a long list of reasons, but really, it boils down to just one really important one – it’s in my genes. Working the soil is as much a part of me as my hair colour – always has been, and always will be. My family tree has been traced back hundreds of years in most branches and the vast majority of my ancesters were involved in agriculture. In fact, my maiden name is Norman French in origin, and the original spelling literally translates to “calf herder”. My dad was mainly a beef farmer, but he also worked the land, and was an avid gardener all of his life. The same can be said of most of my relatives on both sides of the family, going back through the generations. So, gardening will be a big part of this blog each growing season. I don’t claim to be an expert as far as technique goes, but I’m sure that I can share some tips along the way. I mainly just garden by instinct, but of course I picked up knowledge from my parents and grandparents during my formative years. I can remember back to my toddler years very clearly, and some of my very earliest memories are of “helping” Dad plant seeds and tend his flowers.
We have had an unusually long gardening season this year, which has been such a treat! Still, Mother Nature maintains a certain schedule, regardless of the date on which things are planted, and the garden looks pretty much as it always does at this time of year. The early flowers and vegetables are history, the mid-season ones are starting to fade, and the late season things are really coming into their glory now.
Most years I do some freezing of vegetables and fruit early and mid-season, but August is when I really get going at preserving our garden’s bounty. I don’t do as much canning and pickling as I once did, but I’d never be able to give it up completely. As any homemaker knows, so little of what we do has any lasting effect, but canning is something that gives me a lasting sense of accomplishment. I love the sight of the rows of colourful jars on the table before they’re stored away, and of course, homemade preserves are a zillion times better than anything that comes from a factory.
I’ll talk more about all of that once the canning gets going, but for today I just want to share some of my favourite August flowers. All photos courtesy of my daughter, who is also responsible for art work and headers on this blog.
I have always loved glads for their own beauty, but my dad grew hundreds of them each year, and always walked away with a handful of ribbons at the local horticultural show. So, growing them myself has kept him close in the years since he died. My daughter loves them for the same reasons.
I grew the zinnias from seed, so they’re just really coming into their full glory now. I love their bright colours – truly the happiest of flowers!
And, of course, the cheerful sunflower is a favourite of many in late summer. This one just grew on its own, possibly from the bird seed that we put out over the winter. What a beauty!
And finally, a wild, perennial cousin of the sunflower. It’s a bit past its best, but I love the glow of the morning sunshine on the plant and had to include it here:
I’ll never totally give up on ornamental annuals, lilies, glads, etc., but we’ve moved more towards native perennial plants over the past couple of years and they’re filling out nicely now. They’re much lower maintenance, which suits my energy levels, plus they’re hardy for this climate. Thus the water metre doesn’t spin around quite so quickly during hot, dry spells! I have lots of shots of the wild flowers, but I’ll save them for a post of their own another day.
I’m not a big heat lover, so I’m loving the fact that we can feel the seasons changing. Nights are getting cooler, and the muggy summer heat seems to be leaving us. It’s still hot during the day, but not the same kind of sticky heat like is the norm through June and July. Dry heat I can do, but I’ll still be happiest when autumn arrives in earnest. I know, it’s a crime to wish summer away, and I’m honestly not doing that. I just love autumn, period, and can’t wait to welcome my old friend. 🙂