Back to school

The schoolbus yellow rudbeckias foretold the inevitable starting weeks ago. School has started in Rhode Island, it’s about to start in Mass., and suddenly the property has gone quiet. No more laughing camp kids in bamboo grove and vegetable garden, and fewer busloads of adults too. It’s as if a timer went off that says we all have to get back to work now just because kids went off to school. People are already talking about the “end of the season”. I object.

After all, summer is far from over. I’ll admit that some things, like tomatoes, are starting to show signs of slowing down. Last week we filled a crate to the top for the food pantry, and barely covered the bottom of it this week. But the gourds are still reaching for the moon, soybeans are coming, squash are growing (into baseball bats), and even lettuce is leafing. Not to mention all of the “cool crops” that are just getting going all over again.

There’s nothing quiet about the other gardens. They are as crowded and noisy as a schoolyard with pollinating and seed eating wildlife and are so jam packed with flowers it can be hard to find the paths in and back out again. These next couple of months are exactly the time we’ve been working so hard for all winter, spring, and summer. It’s a little bit ironic that right when everyone else goes back to work, we can finally take a bit of a breather to really look at and enjoy the gardens, assess our successes and discuss changes we might like to make next year.

Which isn’t to say that there’s nothing else to do. Late-summer garden chores are some of the most gratifying. We need to keep paths open and welcoming, and prop up the top-heavy leaners but there’s not much deadheading to do (a topic for a future post) and even the weeding seems under control (though we did just get another little downpour yesterday…) But everything we do in the garden, every tweak and adjustment, edit and deletion really shows and looks like an improvement. Check out these befores and afters…

(The last two pictures are to show the difference in the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) hedge after Fred and Dan trimmed it yesterday – what a difference.) I think the reward for a morning’s or a day’s labor of love – in the garden or out of it – should be to sit back for a few minutes to watch the goldfinch eat echinacea seeds and the hummingbirds work the stachytarpheta, Salvia guarantica, nicotiana, and agastache and soak it all up before summer really does come to an end.

Have you gone back to school/work or are you still enjoying summer in the garden? Do you do a lot of late-summer editing, assessing, and wildlife watching too?