anticipating fall

It’s Tomato Time

In the last few days we’ve transitioned from hot and dry to cool and wet. Rain at last — 15 mm (.6 inch). It might not seem like much, but it has transformed the landscape from parched and rattling to soft and almost green.

However welcome, rain and cool weather can cause tomatoes on the vine to split before they ripen, which usually means they rot before ripening. So I went out and picked any that were turning orange. They can ripen inside while the rest take their chances outside.

Tomatoes ripening inside

Tomatoes ripening inside

Elsewhere in the garden, the change to fall is underway.



The Garden in August

The word for this month is “dry.” Really dry. Only 9 millimeters (0.35 inches) of rain since June 27th. Hoses, sprinklers and watering cans are getting a lot of use, but despite that, the scene has a brownish tinge.

August 25, 2013

This is how I began this post a few days ago. But that evening we had rain, quite a heavy shower. Things got wet, the soil sopped up the moisture. A few more bouts of rain followed, for a total of 17 millimeters (0.67 inches) — not that much, but enough to water the entire garden without me having to lift a bucket or drag a hose. Bliss for the dry-summer gardener!

Tomatoes are getting an orange tinge, and visits by raccoons and deer have tapered off. Quite a few of the tough plants that cope well with drought and/or shade are putting on a late summer show, such as these mulleins, echinops and Verbena bonariensis in the ex-vegetable patch.

August 25, 2013

Regular visits to the pond by raccoons have rendered some areas a near-desert (typical gardener exaggeration here), but recent efforts to clean it up, and the rain recharge, have been encouraging. This spot looks fairly good after extensive “dead-leafing” of daylily “Kwanso.”

August 25, 2013

The front garden looks deceptively lush and colourful.

August 18, 2013

This combination of blue fescue, brunnera “Jack Frost” and a euphorbia whose name I don’t know is particularly fetching. (Does anyone recognize the euphorbia? It has red stems and tiny leaves and grows to about 18 inches).

August 10, 2013

I’ve had this acanthus for years, during which it has gradually bulked up, and this year it finally bloomed. Quite impressive (to me, anyway).

August 10, 2013

Bee-watching is still a big thing, but…

August 5, 2013

…the summer is ending and I’m looking forward to fall, my favourite season, especially what I call the “fall spring,” when some spring-bloomers such as rhododendrons and Clematis armandii, for example, perk up and bloom a little. Mushrooms pop up, mosses and ferns are refreshed, leaves start to turn colour, and the gardener perceives hints of winter gravity behind the morning mists.

August Laziness

It’s August. The garden and gardener are tired. Plants aren’t growing or blooming much, and I spend most of my garden time cutting down things that are past their best and watering. We finally have real summer weather here on the west coast. It’s warm (almost hot) and definitely dry.

I have to admit that I’m looking forward to fall, my favourite season. Plants and plans that haven’t turned out well can be left behind and the rare and subtle fall bloomers enjoyed — the colchicums, autumn crocuses and hardy cyclamen.  I’ve already spotted one or two cyclamen flowers near my pond. After the first of the rains there will be warm days and cool evenings, with leaves starting to change colour, mushrooms popping up like surprises and that smell of mouldy sweetness that is the essence of the turning year.

But today the sky is clear to the horizon, a hard blue that promises heat. Apples hang on the trees, ripening. Tomatoes are finally moving beyond golf ball size; there might even be a few red ones eventually. The seeds of lamb’s ears and campion are maturing in their seed pods, which will soon start to rattle, a sure sign that the gardener has neglected to deadhead them in time.  (Not me — no campion in this picture, but I’ll have to keep an eye on those eryngiums!)

The Perseid meteor shower is in full swing. Last night was perfect for meteor-spotting, with the sky as black as it ever gets in suburbia. I went out to the garden at 2 a.m. and actually saw two meteors before I was spooked by rustling in the shrubbery.

That’s it for now; back to the virtual hammock.