August is fading, it’s farewell lost on whispering wind while the Labor Day weekend is flashed on the screen of our minds. People are busy with their new school years and have already said their goodbyes to summer, the last of August is simply a tags end sale of afterthoughts. But there are blooms and beauties, anyway.
As I took my morning walk today I passed the chicory blooms along the roadside; this is an interesting plant even if it does just grow as a roadside plant. Known as “Chicory; Succory; Blue Sailors; Bunk” according to an oldtime writer, ‘Nature’s Garden’ by Neltje Blanchan (1917) who refers to the sometimes forgotten fact that this was planted for use as a coffee substitute or additive. If I remember right this is still used by Cajuns to flavor their java. The flower is the purest sky blue, something I always like to see, perhaps because it is so rare as a flower yet reflects the overarching blue of the sky above us. Whenever we look up from our work the sky reminds us of something outside our little worlds. I wonder why that it… it is always there, but we don’t often pay attention to really look. Except on those rare occasions when we are relaxing on a beach or luxuriating in a lawn chair. Maybe that is why the blue color is so welcome: through associations. It grows in roadsides, waste places, fields, and should be found blooming from now til October.
My phlox are blooming now, and it was those blooms that seduced the hummingbirds to my yard, as I have a poor cupboard of flowers to their liking this year. They love the monardas, the red geraniums ( pelargoniums) and other such flowers. But my Starfire phlox and a lavender-colored one I forget the name of, will do in a pinch. Soon, the hummingbirds will start their long migration if they haven’t already.
The calendulas look rather ratty right now, but I won’t pull them out since they get their second wind and among the few that will go on blooming past some frosts, like the chrysanthemums. They are cheerful then, when all else is browned and ready to be cut down.
The hosta, Royal Standard, has its white spires above the most beautiful emerald green foliage. Some of my other hostas look a little worn, but this one looks very fresh and lush… August took no toll as on the others.
The orange trumpet vine is blooming in its place on an old rundown outbuilding. This is a powerful grower and has run its way inside and outside of that shed. I got it from a little bitty start my Dad, now deceased, had given me. He had it growing on a strong arbor he had made. This is its strongest year for me and I like the orange flowers… if I hadn’t been so busy elsewhere I would’ve thought to examine it for hummingbird visitors- they are reputed to like it, but my usual sitings are nearer the house.
The Annabelle (the mother plant hydrangea- I have many others elsewhere) has flopped over so badly that I will have to cut her back this year. I usually leave hydrangea flowers to catch snow over winter, but I have some under a window that are more well behaved so the main plant will get trimmed and possibly divided if I have the time this fall- more likely next spring. These hydrangea heads are a pale Irish green this time of year.
The Queen Anne’s Lace are still around, though I keep weeding them out. Such pretty flowers for arrangements, but they get into all my plantings and make a nuisance of themselves. But if you visit the roadsides and have the necessary control to stop and pick some, these different roadside wild things make a pretty arrangement, especially in a pitcher or even a Mason jar. I ought to resume the habit of making such little flower bouquets, it seems like forever since I did that…in a quieter life so long ago, now.
The asters are just beginning to peek through with color. I have a few pink blooms on one right now, but they are more truly a September flower.
The last flower to mention is that purple one I listed in the last post. When first introduced to it, by an old friend Mrs. Ward, I knew it as Joe Pye Weed. It turns out there are a number of wildflowers known by that name. That is the problem with common names, so evocative, but so vague. The Latin names will occasionally change through time, but they are traceable and that is the best way to know plants. So Joe Pye Weed might also be known as Ironweed, but it is Vernonia noveboracensis, if you want to get an exact rendering of who and what this plant is in reality. It is wonderful as a cut flower. I tried to grow it from things gathered in the wild, but it didn’t take. It grows as a weed in neglected wet areas. So pretty, though.