Goodbye, Summer, Goodbye!

My writing nook...

My writing nook...

Goodbye, Summer! It was a shock to my inner-gardener when I stepped out onto to the terrace this morning to find the straw-hat season packing up, moving on. Without so much as a 'by your leave'. How did this happen?

It seems that only yesterday we were celebrating the Fourth of July, anticipating a bounty of Long Island corn, the sweetest corn in all the world. Looking forward to plucking a few juicy New Jersey beefsteak tomatoes off the vine. Cracking open a batch of Maryland crabs. Turning a humble breakfast into a feast with a Connecticut cantaloupe. And tossing a couple of Maine lobsters on the grill for an easy dinner. 

And now?

Now it's time to say goodbye to all that. Goodbye, as well, to the coach-lamps that cast a magical glow over the table in the evening. Lamps that are a perennial reminder of the adage: One man's trash is an other man's treasure.  When a neighbor, many years ago, tossed them out, we scooped them up and gave them a new life. An outdoors-y life! One surrounded by white lace hydrangea, variegated hosta and hot-pink mandevilla that have a habit of scampering to the top of the trellis.  But wait a second, are we rushing things?

Au contraire!  For on the north side of the terrace, the gnarled and woody kiwi vines, a bellwether in the world of gardening, are telling another story. Half the yellowed leaves lie scattered on the ground, with the hangars-on fading fast. I remind myself that these vines are the first to sally forth each spring, to leaf out in late March when all the world is half-frozen, as well as first to leave the party. Which is when I notice the moss growing alongside the roots of the kiwi. Moss that browns out in the summertime, is a bright green—as bright a green as any seen in the rock-strewn fields of County Clare. And as velvety as a caterpillar’s back.

Tell Me More...

The black-eyed Susans, so head-strong in July and August, have lost their buttery blondness, if not their dark eyes.  And two monumental coleuses—plants that spent the summer on the terrace after being quietly removed from the entrance to the building—are changing from a deep burgundy to a fiery crimson. Along the parapet overlooking the street, the Carefree roses are doing their very best to live up to their name.

Let Me See for Myself...

To take a walk in the garden, click play.

Did you see the astonishing wall of hydrangea? What had been a mass of creamy-white blooms has magically transformed itself to a dusty rose. What’s remarkable and endearing about the hydrangea is that they've managed to thrive for three years under conditions that have proved fatal to any number of plants.

Early morning...

Early morning...

It's that plants that live year-round on a New York City terrace need to be able to withstand the frigid Arctic winds that sneak down across the Canadian border; the heavy soakings from a Nor’easter; and the heat radiating off the terra cotta tiles on summer afternoons. In a word, the plant must be hardy in all seasons. Hardiness counts.

You've Gotta' Love It

What’s still going gangbusters is the lantana, a shrub that loves sunshine, can go dry without suffering damage, and blooms for months on end. Besides adding bright splashes of color to the garden, the vertical lantana that grow 4-5 feet high on supports are beloved by the butterflies and bees. It’s the color!

As for the scent, it’s love it or hate it. I love it, love its minty fragrance when I crush the leaves between my fingers. Others will tell you lantana smells like gasoline, but as someone who loves the promise of the open road, I rather like the smell of gasoline.

But this is all so sudden! I’m not quite prepared, not quite ready to say goodbye. Not quite willing to stash the throw pillows -- pillows that soften the wood benches and remind us of the important things in life -- in the storage bin.

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At which a few lines from “Reluctance,” a poem by the bard of rural life, Robert Frost, spring to mind:

Ah, when to the heart of man was it ever less than a treason, to go with the drift of things, to yield with a grace to reason, and to bow and accept the end of a love or a season ?

Le Petit Jardin dans le Ciel

By the way, I should tell you that le petit jardin dans le ciel, the little garden in the sky, is a wee bit French in that the landscape designer lined up the planters to form a mini-allée, a path.  And it's even more French when we bring up a basket of croissants and a carafe of coffee in the morning or une bouteille de vin rosé in the evening. It's then that we drink to your health: à votre santé. And to that of Missing Mother and our good friends at Harper Collins Canada!  A-men.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you next week when I'll have the coffee and croissants ready. Weather permitting, we'll catch up with one another in the garden.

And remember...sharing is caring. Merci beaucoup mes amies.

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Purple and white Angelonia

Barbara Donsky