Saturday, September 26, 2015

As Summer Winds Down

The calendar says that fall has officially arrived now, but as long as the flowers are still blooming, I feel like summer is still winding down. Honestly, I think September is the finest month in all the land. I still have all my flowers, the days are warm but the nights are cool, the humidity is gone, and the skies are ever blue. I'm finding it hard to stay indoors for housework, when I'd much rather be outside.

It's a bittersweet time of year. I'm trying to savor the beauty of the last blooms, knowing that frost could be only a few weeks away. Every year I beg summer to stay, but it doesn't help, does it? Autumn surely follows.

It would seem that I'd be accustomed to seeing my summer flowers fall to frost every year, after all this time. But I'm not. It's always a little sad.

Still, I have to admit that I enjoy my long winter's rest. It's nice to relax and dream about next year's garden. I'm not sure that I'd fully appreciate a full year of gardening. Winter makes the summer garden season all the more precious.

As much as I love the flowers here in Robin's Nest, by far the most thrilling garden adventure that I enjoyed this summer was when I raised two monarch caterpillars all the way into their transformation to beautiful butterflies. I understand that many butterfly nuts like me do this every year, but this was a first for me. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will have seen the caterpillars and the chrysalis that followed. It was amazing to see, for sure.

But to see the butterfly emerge, and then fly off towards Mexico was just plain amazing. If you have never done this, you simply must.

Sweet September was a fine, fine month for me here in Robin's Nest. I'll be sorry to turn the page to October, but then again, it's nearly as wonderful as September. Autumn is our reward for the winter that follows it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September Sights

The calendar has turned to September, and the kids are back to school. But that doesn't mean it feels like fall. It's still plenty hot and sticky, and it feels like August. But soon, very soon, the days will start to cool, and it will actually *feel* like September. I hope anyway! I really like the cool, clear days that usually characterize September. Bring it on!

I'm a big fan of October too, and fall in general. But no, I don't care one bit about pumpkin spice lattes. It seems that's all anyone cares about this time of year! I won't rush through September though, it's one of my favorite months.

It's not quite summer, it's not quite fall. Flowers are still blooming with abandon, but the vegetable garden is fading fast. It was not a banner year for vegetables, that's for sure. As a matter of fact, it was one of the worst harvest years ever. Luckily, the tomatoes are still producing. Come winter, I'm sure going to miss having fresh tomatoes every day. The carrots did well, as you can see.
Many of my perennials finish up their blooming by September, so I depend on annuals. The snapdragons, zinnias, dahlias, coleus, and moss roses are carrying the load when it comes to garden color.

I haven't seen as many butterflies this month as I usually do, and I'm disappointed in that. It's monarch season, and I've only seen one so far. However, I do have some visitors in my kitchen...aren't they cute? One of the other master gardeners was passing out these monarch caterpillars recently, and I said I'd raise a couple to maturity. I've always meant to try this!

I did catch one making its chrysalis, but couldn't manage to get a decent photo of the process. Still, it was absolutely fascinating! Now I'm waiting for the other one to do the same, before I run out of milkweed. I hope I don't miss the transition to butterfly. It will be another week or so before that happens. I don't care how old you are, this is an amazing thing to see! Stayed tuned for the arrival of the butterflies themselves.

Hope you enjoyed my September sights, I know I sure did!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Things

Our summer started out much wetter and cooler than normal. It did turn hot and dry as usual after that, but this week is already chilly like fall! I know that summer will be back, but it sure seems like a short season this year. So let's talk of summer things before it all fades away. 
Sailboat in St. Joseph

Sailboats on Grand Traverse Bay
We recently took a long weekend trip to Michigan, where we visited some of my favorite spots. Being nearly surrounded by water, you know you'll see beaches when you're in Michigan. I grew up on the west side of Michigan, so that's where we always visit. And being on the west side means that I'll want to see sunsets on the lake while I'm there. 
Sleeping Bear sunset

Sunset in St. Joseph/lighthouse under reno

St. Joseph sunset

Sunset glow on Lake Michigan

There were lake views, and sand dunes, and scenic sites at every turn. 
View from Two Lads Winery in Traverse City

Glen Arbor beach

Glen Lake overlook in Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

But what I love best about summer is the garden in my own back yard. 
Black Eyed Susans with Munstead Lavender
Chinatown rose
Goldfinch in Chinese Fringe tree
The sunny suburban backyard that I call home plays host to many small visitors, and I welcome them to my garden with open arms. The sight of bees, butterflies, birds, and dragonflies just says summer to me. 
Monarch Waystation 
The first monarch visitor of this year
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Bumblebee enjoying nectar from Tequila Lime zinnia
Pearl Crescent butterfly
And what could be more summery than the very flowers that make up my garden? 
Birdbath and black eyed susans

Grandpa Ott morning glory
Black eyed susans with African Blue basil
Summer sunflower
Karley Rose grass

Tequila Lime zinnias with new washer ball

Queen Red Lime zinnias-the Queen of my garden! 
Well, I've spoken of all my favorite summer things. Now do you think that summer will come back? It's only August after all!