Thursday, July 29, 2010

August Doldrums

Here in the Flint Hills, my gardening efforts dwindle off in July and August as the sun and heat build and chase me inside. The garden doesn't die off during this period, it just carries on without the gardener for a period of time while the gardener swallows the bitter pill of survival instinct and chooses wisely to remain indoors. Somewhere out there, however, beyond the window panes, the garden blooms madly on without me. Daylilies are a popular plant here, and an excellent choice they are for Kansas. They start to bloom just as the gardener begins to wilt in early July and they remain at full force throughout July and into August in most years, carrying the garden through the long hot summer days. My gardening efforts for the past few weeks of 95+ degree temperatures have been confined to weekly mowing duties, quick darts out in the early morning hours to keep the crabgrass from becoming a groundcover in the garden beds, and an occasional watering expedition where I consume more water trying to keep myself hydrated than I ultimately sprinkle onto the young plants. I've watched from the windows as the daylilies have thrived and bloomed and sent their masses of yellow, orange and red hues across the yard. Some garden authors, such as the titillating Cassandra Danz, have noted that most daylilies described as peach, apricot, and cantaloupe still look mostly orange from a distance, but my garden has been saved from orange monotony because of my weakness for purple, white, and red daylilies. At the annual Flint Hills Daylily Society sale, I've made it a habit to avoid the "orange" tables and seek out the spiders, the reblooming pinks, large whites, and the true red self daylilies. Rather than an orange blend, I try to optimistically believe that my daylily beds are a tapestry of colors for a connoisseur’s palate.

Now, as August is closing in, the daylilies are starting to fade. Some will go on, but the continuing solo blossoms of 'Happy Returns' and 'Stella de Oros' just don't have the impact that the full choir of Hemerocallis in mass provides in July. The foliage will dry up, the scapes will become brittle, and the seed pods of some varieties will rupture and spill onto the ground. And I will miss their cheerfulness for another year.

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