First walnut leaves falling
Yellow against a wall of green.
Cicadas start their thrumming
Calling autumn in again.
High summer is upon us. The cicadas have started to sing. Lightening bugs still rise from the meadows.
Tomatoes are ripening and very healthy, despite laments I’ve heard from other gardeners about blight from the multitudinous rains. Adrian Higgins at The Washington Post is ripping his out! Ours are mulched with compost and straw. This year we’re growing trusty ‘Early Girl’,’ Better Boy’, ‘Big Boy’, ‘Mortgage Lifter’, ‘Lemon Boy’, and ‘Sweet 100’, all in old wire cages except for one ‘Mortgage Lifter’ trained to a single post.
This is the first time I’ve made an effort to consistently snip out leafy growth from axils and I believe it’s made a difference in the vigor and fruit production of the plants. Plus, it’s a pleasant task in the dusky early evening, making my fingers smell of tomatoes and reminding me of when Mother would tend her little plot in the back of our rental houses in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
So glad I went to the trouble of getting the old-fashioned floppy Nicotiana ‘Fragrant Cloud’ from Eltzroth-Thompson in spring. They’re in their glory in high summer. Nobody grows them much because they sell more of those awful squat hybrids like ‘Nikki’ that come in muddy pinks and ugly reds and don’t smell at all.
After night truly falls and it’s black outside, the heavy cloying scent of ‘Fragrant Cloud’ wafts through the screened windows and nocturnal moths flit about – an enchanting element by a porch or patio, along with white Cleomes and moonvine, to give any sunny white garden an evening glow.
The Japanese beetles are very bad, doing lacework on zinnias, sorrel, basil, and the old Geranium inquinans from Monticello. I do a periodic extermination with a bucket of soap and my fingers, but I always feel like a Nazi hunting down Jews, if you’ll forgive the ugly expression. I have a hard time with the omnipotence of the good gardener, the easy ability to choose so surely who shall live and who shall die.
I think of dear old Tom Hardy, the great English poet and novelist, who as a boy was hired by a farmer to throw stones at the crows to keep them out of the fields and thought to himself, why shouldn’t the birds be able to eat, too?