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August Doldrums

“I’m just an early summer gardener,” said a friend of mine a couple months ago. When pressed to explain, she said, “I like planting and watching things grow, but by August when everything is in bloom I’ve had enough. I don’t want to weed and deadhead anymore.”

At the time I appreciated her frankness but didn’t really agree with her point of view. I was eager to get out in the sun and commune with my plantings. Then August arrived a week ago. My flowers are either raging in color and fullness or languishing because of missing nutrient in the soil or too much water or too little. Since this is only the second summer I’ve planted at this home, I’m still in learning mode.

So I’m happy with the alyssum, the zinnias, the roses, and most especially the hollyhocks, one of which is as high as our roof. The wild grass and the black eyed Susans have done well too. The geraniums, on the other hand, seem pinched and frustrated. So do the New Guinea impatiens. Their leaves are not a vibrant green nor are their flowers big. Perhaps they’ve received too much water. Or maybe they’ve succumbed to some mite. Or lack of fertilizer.

To date, I’ve put a lot of money, time, and energy into my flowers this summer. I’m not mad that some grew well and some didn’t. Nor am I discouraged. At the same time, I too am becoming disenchanted with the regular upkeep of both thriving and non-thriving plants. And it has occurred to me that I might be an early summer gardener like my friend.

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