Summer Flower Show


Despite my love of flowers and plants, my garden is a neglected, haphazard place during the summer months. I'm very attentive in the spring and the fall, but since I wither in humid heat and attract every mosquito within a mile, my poor garden is forced to survive with little help from me. By August the bindweed and wild morning glories are well established, and the best I can do is an occasional early morning attack to uncover the few vegetables in my tiny rabbit-proof potager (the only place that gets any consistent sunlight). I joke that the rest of the garden has been planted with invasive species (daylilies and gooseneck loosestrife and liriope), and they just fight it out for territory and keep each other in check. Its not quite true, though, and I have my Summer Flower Show to prove it. I don't grow any showy annuals, but my perennials manage to put out just enough blossoms to fill the "posy" vases on my kitchen windowsill. I've been collecting these vases since I was a teenager. My parents traveled a lot, and my mother would often bring me a tiny one from whatever country she was visiting. After my father retired, they spent part of each year in Portugal, and so I have a number of beautiful hand-painted examples from the Algarve. I manage to collect enough buds during the growing season to keep my vases full, starting with violets, bleeding hearts, and azaleas in the spring and finishing with the last brave roses in the fall. As the blooms inside begin to fade, I grab my cutters (and the insect repellent) and head outside. My color eye wakes up as I hunt for flowers among the green—a bit of purple New York ironweed, some late white hydrangea, a violet budlea. This week I was delighted to discover delicate blue blossoms of balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) in a part of the garden overrun by ivy, and pale pink climbing roses beginning their late August revival. My windowsill flower show is a wonderful reminder of the ebb and flow of the garden, of how even the hottest season produces something to keep the bees and butterflies busy.