Here’s what’s going on in my patch of land in northern New England as of 31 August 2016:
We’ve had some rain in the last month but we’re still below normal levels and some towns in the state have instituted water restrictions. I haven’t watered anything but a couple of container plants in the last several weeks. We’re running the dehumidifier in the clothes closet, so I pour that bucket of water on the plants every other day or so. The two rain barrels are now more than 3/4 full, so they’re also available.
It definitely feels like we’re on the downhill slide to autumn now. Most of the veggie plants are wilting (squash), leafless (tomatoes), and no longer giving much harvest (green beans), except cucumbers, basil, and bell peppers. I thought about planting a fall crop of arugula but never did. I’ve never planted fall squashes because I don’t really like to eat them.
Of course, the inedible giant volunteer gourd plant is going gangbusters.
As far as the non-edibles, i.e., the lion’s share of the garden, most plants have finished blooming and are putting their effort now into strengthening their systems to withstand winter and flourish next year. Late season bloomers like Joe Pye weed, caryopteris, kirengeshoma, hydrangea, tall phlox, and heather are taking up the slack; and some long-season bloomers — hostas, buddleia, geraniums, echinacea — along with annuals and self-seeders — cosmos, calendula, marigolds, zinnias, cupea vermillionaire (large firecracker plant), borage, bachelor buttons and other plants from the butterfly mix, sweet William (reblooming), scarlet runner beans (edible, but I grow them for the red flowers), even a couple of volunteer sunflowers I didn’t pull — provide more colour, height, and insect and bird food as the garden sings its swan song and the nights grow colder (I think 47F is our low so far).
Here’s the photo tour:
So far, about 15 summer squashes, 20 cucumbers, 4 lbs of green beans, 30 cherry and sungold tomatoes, one bell pepper, a couple of batches (about 10 cups) of basil (not shown … made into pesto immediately), and about 20 garlic heads. I’ve also cut and used some parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme, and oregano this month. I let the dill and fennel flower to bring little parasitic wasps to the yard.
My vegetable garden contains multitudes of non-edible plants, including the aforementioned butterfly mix flowers, quite a lot of perovskia (Russian sage), cosmos, marigolds, zinnias, buddleia (butterfly bush), gladiolus, and other plants that have bloomed already.
Hummingbird moth and fritillary in buddleia:
Zinnias! A lot of bang for the buck.
And a catbird (photo taken through a window — but I think s/he knew I was there :-)):
And also some edible plants: elderberry, the berries at their height now; bell peppers; and arugula and squash plants that were.
Soon, it will be all asters.
For now, there’s deer, raccoons, neighbours’ cats:
As well as a long-blooming Neon Intensia phlox, a lobelia I didn’t plant, the rarely-seen-in-my-photos Red Fox veronica (because I unintentionally planted it in a hidden spot), orange and yellow calendula (pot marigold … an annual), and a common wood nymph butterfly on echinacea.
There is a rock wall between our yard and the neighbour’s. Mostly whatever grows there isn’t my doing (daylilies, lily of the valley, various trees, hydrangea, ferns), but I have planted a few things in it: a couple of Ruby Spice clethra shrubs, a viburnum cassinoides (wild raisin) shrub, a black pussywillow, two hazelnut shrubs, a couple of inulas (elecampane), a sweet cicely or two, a few lady’s mantle, two gillenia trifoliata (Bowman’s root), and a few weak plants when the alternative was to compost them. Here’s what’s happening there now:
Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’:
Chelone (turtlehead) and kirengeshoma (yellow waxy bells) are the stars now.
As predicted, Joe Pye weed is the main attraction now:
Phlox, hydrangea, heather, willow gentian, and grasses have been blooming all month, too:
And beyond the fence, there’s grapes vining through the trees and a few nice wildflowers in the back:
A few bugs joined me on the patio:
Not much happening here now – mainly the magenta buddleia:
Alas, no peaches this year. But, nasturtiums, anise hyssop, fennel, borage, a new batch of sweet William, winterberry, and weeds like hemp nettle.
Come back in September! Asters aplenty!
“The most that any one of us can seem to do is to fashion something – an object or ourselves – and drop it into the confusion, make an offering of it, so to speak, to the life force.” — Ernest Becker, from The Denial of Death (1973)