After a remarkably cool, pleasant week, we are now in heat of summer. Recent rains keep the lawns and fields green and many newly planted seedlings and perennials settled down in their new locations within a few days. I had hoped to write about yuccas, some with ivory flowers on stalks five feet high. They came and brightened the corners of the beds but most are over now and so we have cut them down. Sometimes we can just bend the entire stalk bearing leaves and flowers, all the way to the ground and it will break off at the base; however, most of the time we have to saw the base of the blooming division to remove it and stimulate the growth of a new rosette.
Masses of larkspur with flowers in shades of blue, white, lavender, and pink continue to bloom while most of the other spring annuals are going to seed. Poppies have lured goldfinches into the garden and they sing all day as they go from plant to plant. Our challenge is to collect the ripe seeds we have marked as special—bright shades of red, purple, burgundy, raspberry as well as pure white. Goldfinches aren’t the only creatures that like poppy seeds. Mice quickly discover the gathered seed if we leave it where can be found in the potting room or law office. This year, we have them in open bags in the laundry room in the house in hopes that the mice won’t find them there, and so far, they haven’t. Nigella is another annual from which we collect seed. We can pop off the seed heads and shake the ripe seeds into sacks, ready to be packed up for sale during our fall open day. While the annuals fade, recent rains have given us the best show of hydrangeas ever and both sterile (mop head) and fertile (lace cap) forms brighten the shady gardens. Where the spring annuals once thrived, lilies and gladiolas now add splashes of color throughout the gardens.