Let’s call it summer

Usually we can identify what season we’re in by the weather but this May into June has been weirdly crisp and fall-like. (I’m not complaining — it’s lovely. The only downside is that the soil has been dry as powder and even after being thoroughly watered in, some of our newly planted annuals and tender perennials wilted in the sun and wind. —Thank goodness for yesterday’s half inch of steady soaking rain…) This year we’re following other cues to know that spring is shifting into early summer. Most Rhode Islanders call it summer as soon as the lifeguards go on duty — check; we gardeners can also tell by what we’ve accomplished and what’s in, and coming into, bloom.

Thanks to our amazing volunteers, we got another 1000 plants in the Idea, North and Rose Gardens this week, including packs and peat pots of seedlings, dahlias, gladiolas, and crocosmia that had been started in containers (we tried fabric root pouches this year – more about those in a later post). We still have a few plants waiting in the wings outside and in the greenhouse, and a few more dahlias just up from down cellar that need to get in the ground but it feels like we’re actually beating the heat to summer this year.

Planting the Cutting GardenA beautiful afternoon planting in the North Garden

Ask me when is the best time to visit and I’ll usually answer, “now!” because there’s always so much to see and enjoy. But today, this weekend, the next week or two — this particular “now” — is especially special. Right this very minute, the sun is out, softly warm, and everything is sparkling after the rain. The red-tailed hawk has spent the whole week doing wheelies over the bamboo grove (chased by angry grackles, truth be told). The Rock Garden is sweetness itself. The alliums are putting on a fabulous cabaret. Peonies in the Cutting Garden are bursting their buds, the Itohs in the Rose Garden are already at it, and our enormous chestnut rose (Rosa roxburghii) has just come into bloom. Its only flush of the year won’t last long (a couple weeks or so) depending on the weather so catch it while you can. The rest of the roses in the Rose Garden should begin their show very soon too. It doesn’t get any prettier this. (Of course, I reserve the right to say that over and over again any day of the week or year.) And if you can stand to hear me gush about the gardens’ glories in person, I’ll be leading a “Plantiful” tour this Sunday at 1pm.

The peony row in the Cutting GardenIntersectional or Itoh peony 'Kopper Kettle' in the rainAllium 'Pinball Wizard' in the North GardenChestnut rose (Rosa roxburghii) closeup

Has summer started in your garden too? How can you tell?