Heralds of summer

I could have sworn I heard my first cicada yesterday. It was that kind of blazing hot day you’d expect to hear a chorus of them. So maybe I heard it through wishful thinking (auditory halucination) because I haven’t heard it again! There are a few things that herald full summer for me and that’s a major one. (The first swim in the ocean is another; first minor league baseball game… anyone else care to add to the list?)The North Garden Soiree

How about a picnic on the lawn? Blithewold’s second Soiree was held in the North Garden and this time almost everyone brought supper! What a good idea – and some of it looked really tasty! Around the wine and cheese table at the North Garden SoireeEveryone sampled California wines and cheeses while listening to the smooth crooning of Jeffery Thomas, a local musician who serenaded us from the porch. His singing was so melifluous and his song choices so sweet that it seemed to me that love was in the air. For the couple of couples who looked inclined to dance (but were too shy) and the Beetles picnicing, etc on the climbing hydrangea by the North Garden during the SoireeJapanese beetles picnicing and cavorting on the climbing hydrangea, the evening was definitely romantic! Since I was unaccompanied, instead of strolling arm in arm and sharing bites of cheese-n-cracker with a cutie, I wandered in search of soiree-ers with garden questions. And I found some FAQs! First question: “What kind of mulch is that – it’s so delicate and attractive!” Answer: Buckwheat hull mulch. Although it’s a bit pricey (around $12/3 cubic feet), we love it in that garden and the Rose Garden because it’s elegant, organic, mold resistant, and adds an excellent fluff to the soil as it gets mixed in over the season. Next question: “The edges are beautiful – how do you keep them looking so crisp?” Answer: Fred Perry, Groundsman extraordinaire, cuts the edge every spring with a sharpened spade and trims it weekly after mowing using a string trimmer held vertically. There were appreciative comments all over the place – everyone raved about the food, the music and the garden – it just doesn’t get better than that!Watching the races at the North Garden Soiree

Rain was forecast for that evening but never materialized. Good for the Soiree; bad for the gardens! Petasites japonicus (butterbur) in the heat.The Petasites (poorly sited) look like I feel after blazing days spent watering! It has stayed hot (90’s) but at least whatever system came through that night blew in a breeze and blew out the muggyness.

Here are a couple of choice bloom pics before I leave for the weekend (it’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day this Sunday but I might not make it in for a post – this and another on Monday might have to suffice!) Please let me know if you get tired of seeing Lotus pictures because it’s so cool I can’t seem to stop!: Nelumbo ‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum’The second bloom opened this morning and check out the fruit from the last one! Someone told me that it’s edible – anyone have a recipe? (Not that I would harvest any of these beauties… I wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of a photo op!)

Platycodon grandiflorus (balloon flower)The Balloon flowers opened this week – they are such a beautiful deep french blue (cobalt with a little rose madder thrown in maybe – are any of you painters who mix colors as you walk the garden?)

And click on the picture below to blow it up – the flower is wee (a little purple on a snakey green stem). I love Stachytarpheta (porterweed) for its weirdness. It’s in the verbena family, doncha know.Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (porterweed)