This summer has been marked by tempo. We started in cool jazz with warm, sunny mornings gathering gallons of raspberries. The blueberries overlapped, and we dove right into cherry picking. Then the bushels of St John's wort...
The back beat to these lovely pursuits was the ever-present Disco boom-boom-boom of filling the shelves with soaps and balms and teas and herb blends, in preparation for shows beyond our regular scope. We barely lifted our eyes from our work.
And then, just like that, it was August. The 70's rock revival of summer.
This is the beauty of perennial herbs and food plants. They just don't care!
The one plot, where I usually plant vegetables is fenced in. It is now full of foxtails, chicory, and ragweed, taller than me. A couple of the borders, where the perennials grow, are basically out of control.
Next year, we'll start early and dig up the wild berry vines, mulberry seedlings, small sumac trees, and pokeweed that the birds have planted and our neglect has nurtured. It will be work, but we'll get it back.
There were a few annuals that we took care of, but other than an occasional mowing and pulling back the weeds to gather specific herbs, we've been lazy gardeners.
And still... it keeps going. The beat goes on.
We've been picking the ripe elderberries each evening, and freeze about a quart every day.
They'll continue to ripen for another couple of weeks. The stems deepen, the berries turn to dark, almost black garnet orbs, and with each day our fingers remember better exactly the pressure required to roll them from their stems.
The persimmons are hanging heavily on the branches.
It is with regret that I must report that the groundhog living under the deck keeps trying to develop an affinity for the unripe fruit (freak!) and climbs the tree to grab them. Of course they are inedible at this point, so s/he leaves them on the ground with a single bite gone.
Molly's boneset patch is vibrant.
I love the way the stems pierce the leaves in the center, growing through them. They will be moving somewhere reasonable in the spring. Haven't figured that out yet...
Last year I pitched some fennel seeds out into the field, and now the first row goes something like this:
baby tree, fennel, baby tree, fennel. Cha cha cha.
The fig trees have both recovered from the severe nibbling they took over the winter.
Will they ripen before frost? I don't know, but hope for a few.
Horehound. That is one tough plant!
All sorts of field weeds try to take over the space in which it resides, and horehound is having none of it. No sir. Growing like a weed.
The passionflower vines have gotten very comfortable, sprawling around the corner, and holding hands with the sour cherry tree.
Some afternoons, I can smell the intoxicating scent of the blossoms halfway across the yard. The flowers will open later today.
The passionflower is also beginning to set fruit.
So far, none has ever ripened for us. Maybe this year? We'll see.
Our white vitex (not as pretty as purple, but very strong) died down to the ground over the winter.
That was a first. For a while there, I thought maybe it would be an opportunity to replace it with a purple one - but before I turned around twice, it was 5 feet high and blooming to beat the band.
And of course the Meyer Lemon.
This year I've found that dusting the leaves and stems with diatomaceous earth has really helped with scale, aphids, and ants. All of those things are drawn madly to the blooming plant, and then each other. Most years I have to completely repot it before bringing it in, as ants nest in the soil - but no problem so far this year.
There are still a few things around the front of the house, like California poppies, mallow, echinacea, and a few straggling cornflowers. In the back, the horseradish is lush and tall, and soon we'll harvest a few roots for fire cider. The witch hazel is huge, and I picked a bunch of it a couple weeks ago to distill our own hydrosol (turned out great).
Still, the tempo has mellowed and quieted, as if in response to the changing quality of light. Just as the plants take note and start to shift gears, so do we. Soon, we'll visit the beach for a true goodbye to summer, and then it will be autumn. A little waltz of final preparations for the lullabye of winter.