As all good gardeners know, celestial autumn doesn’t begin until the Equinox on September 23rd, and late, late, late summer has its languid charms. In the words of the great novelist, philosopher and poet, Iris Murdoch, in her poem, “September”,
Skies are a milder azure, night has a colder finger,
Bland the days linger but they are weary of summer. . . .
Here in the hollow the white flowers of Cleome, Zinnia and Nicotiana float around the front porch where I hear the busy buzz of bees first thing in the morning and sit on the glider at night to watch fat hummingbird moths whir about.
The small-flowered Zinnia angustifolia has become a staple for summer. It thrives in heat and sun and keeps on blooming til frost. Old-fashioned Nicotiana alata and N. sylvestris make dramatic Dr. Seuss-like statements in the border, releasing their heavy perfumes after dark. Along with 4 O’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) and the native jewel weed (Impatiens capensis) these have been reliable pollinator-friendly, deer-resistant annuals. They are forming seeds now which I will soon shake over the beds to re-sprout next year.
The days may be weary of summer, but I love its brave flowers and the sounds of cicadas, crickets, frogs, bees, jays, hawks and geese as the planet wheels toward fall.