August | Lazy Days of Summer

A Cercis canadensis leaf on the ground yesterday
A Cercis canadensis leaf on the ground yesterday

Allen Lacy, in his wonderful book, The Garden in Autumn describes the beginning of the fall garden season as starting mid-August in his New Jersey garden.  Bit by bit, the days are starting a little later and ending a little earlier, the fall’s coming show of color is appearing early on some trees and on the ground in random richly hued leaves.

August is when I really start to think (the operative word there is think) about next spring.  Landscape designs (of significant size) that are started now won’t likely be constructed until after next winter’s thaw, spring blooming bulb offerings are sent to clients,  plants that need to be moved or divided are mulled over, but not much gets physically done–it’s too hot, too muggy, or too many people are on vacation–take your pick.  Since the abundance of the late summer harvest isn’t a factor–no veggies here–in my garden and that of my clients, time slows down now  in anticipation of  the coming cooler mornings and evenings.

I’m not really sure of why, but August reminds me of  Aesop’s fable about the grasshopper and the ants.  I wonder if  unlike the end that befell the unprepared grasshopper, this month of comparative idleness is part of the antlike preparation that will end happily with a burst of energy and renewal once the weather cools down and the garden bekons once again.

6 thoughts on “August | Lazy Days of Summer

  1. Oh, I liked this. Very lovely, Susan. We’ve had a mild summer, so I’m not quite at the fall-craving stage, but it’s coming. I love the preparing-for-winter feel of fall, and since the last of our color goes in December, it’s a long season. And of course now that we all seem to be living closer to the edge than we’d like, the secure feeling of being stocked for winter is comforting. Thank you for reminding us of this.

  2. Autumn doesn’t really feel like it’s arrived until late October here on the Arkansas delta. I miss the more dramatic change of seasons experienced in the North. Living in Michigan, autumn was a magical time with the ripening of the apples, the crisp air, the honk of geese flying high overhead and the stunning foliage of the maples.

    Yep, now I’m homesick!

    Here we will be stuck with heat, humidity and mosquitoes for quite awhile yet.

    Thank you for this piece. It has made me feel cooler just thinking about autumn 🙂

  3. Renewal… I think the eternal optimist is always looking forward to rebirth and finding it in nature is always so satisfying. I love the seasons and the changes do inspire us onward. Thanks for the reminders that this idleness is a time to prepare for better days. More time for blogging and ‘thinking’!

  4. Susan, You always seem to be just a step ahead of everyone else in your posts, which is what I suspect makes you a great designer, too. I often find myself saying, “I was just thinking that,” in response to something you wrote here or elsewhere. Autumn is indeed in the air here in NH as well, and, until now, I was ashamed to admit I was ready to move on in the garden. If it weren’t for our incredibly wet spring and early summer (which denied us a stretch of sunshine until just this month), I’d be tearing out all the annuals and beginning to redesign my beds in anticipation of next spring. I am, instead, forcing myself to enjoy everything as is for a bit longer, or simply for a bit, as is the case this year. But you may have just planted the seed in me with another terrific post … yet again.

  5. Lynn–Happy I make you think! That’s one of the best complements anyone could give me. Gardening is really an ebb and flow–August is the ebb of summer, spring and fall flow and well we all know about winter.

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