I didn’t say “Hot enough for you?” once this month. Not that I am given to using that phrase, anyway, but the weather in Ohio could not have been more beautiful. We had “Polar vortex” in July. Normally I write off this month in terms of garden work. Only mad dogs and Midwesterners work in the heat and humidity, but the so-called “fall temperatures” (the weatherman’s terms, not mine) allowed for plenty of garden grooming this year. I called it a bonus of the “rare days of June”: with blues skies white puffy clouds, summer zephyrs, jade green grass, and blissful 70’s temperatures.
Of course, “in my garden at my pace” simply meant catching up. But it has been a time when I am so glad to have a garden, and drank deeply of the scents of summer’s sweetness.
Not every story is one of light hearted bliss.
This was also a season of facing the losses of last winter in a final way. I noticed quite a bit of tree damage in my area of Ohio, but closer to home the loss of both my cutleaf Japanese maples became evident.
At first I thought they had made it through with their leafing out and seeming good health. But first the green and then the red, both Acer palmatum var. dissectum withered and did not recover. Disappointing both because they are very beautiful, and because they were so expensive. I doubt if I will try to replace their loss.
I have seen this before when I lost my Chinese chestnuts after a particularly hard winter, but was not at all resigned. In fact, I am just now trying to bring myself to cutting them down. My experience with the recovery of the sweet gum tree probably contributes to this folly of hopefulness.
Liquidambar trees have similar hardiness (Zone 5), but some sources say the Japanese maple, var. dissectum is only reliable to 5b. My garden would bear that out. The red-leaf, in particular, was planted in a more protected microclimate.
I tried to do some research on wilt disease that affects maples, in case that was the culprit in their demise. Many maples that are hardy enough have died, or partially died back this past year. And one of my crabapples had a weirdly unhealthy look. I haven’t determined the reason for that, as yet.
You can see, the garden has suffered its share of problems.
What Is So Rare As A Day in June
AND what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there’s never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,-
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?
Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
‘Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For our couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer’s lowing,
– And hark! How clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!
Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
‘Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,
– ‘Tis for the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave not wake,
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season’s youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep ‘neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.
~James Russell Lowell
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