Ode to Summer!

My very first and also final post written in Summer 2022 is a tribute to the season, paying homage to the beauty of these past three months. Autumn is just a few days away; it’s now or never. Asters, Japanese anemones, and dahlias are beginning to shine as autumn approaches.

Coppertop roses continue to be stunning in September 2022. The “new” rose garden at three years old is full of scent and lovely blossoms. Removing the large, sloping swath of sunny lawn to create the rose garden delivered an amazing transformation. Trios of Munstead Wood, Lady Emma Hamilton, Golden Celebration, Gertrude Jekyll, and Princess Anne bring us armloads of joy. Interspersed with single bushes of Pumpkin Patch, Jude the Obscure, Evelyn, Connie’s Sandstorm, and a climbing Iceberg, the colors and pleasures are abundant. Over the past winter Pumpkin Patch and Connie (both floribundas) were the two to die back, but both returned well.

Twenty rose bushes fill the space beautifully with hardy perennials like salvias, geraniums, and phlox mixed throughout. In other areas of the garden, roses include Lady of Shallot, Graham Thomas, Claire Austin, Pristine (one of only two hybrid teas I grow), and unknown varieties. What a gift it is to have vases continually filled with roses in the house, especially since this has been a summer overflowing with houseguests.

For upkeep, I deadhead at least weekly, water deeply every 1-3 weeks, and feed just twice during the growing season with organic RoseTone by Espoma. No spraying, no pests, no troubles. Our warm and dry summer has benefitted the roses.

Sweet peas, Lathyrus odoratus, have also had a fabulous year here. Of all things, I wound up ordering my seed from sellers on Etsy, since I delayed shopping for them and most online nurseries were picked over. I bought Mammoth Mix and Royal Family Mix and have loved them all. I’d say Mammoth Mix had the longest stems for cutting, but both have outstanding fragrance and colors. All the vines have preferred new, deeper planters along our garage over shallower planters on our deck, but both locations offer full shade in the afternoons. Sweet peas usually lag after our heat waves, which we had a couple of this summer, then they perk back up with cooler temps. For almost three months we’ve had continuous blooms.

Lest all seems sublime, it’s time to mention our detested mascot of Summer 2022, the elusive mountain beaver. Members of this “most primitive living rodent species” (from Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife) have moved into a section of our fenced, landscaped acres this summer, building homes by gnawing off large branches from our Rhody Grove. Most of the rhododendrons are recovering, but it’s been a battle. I used to refer to mountain beavers living in the wild areas of our land as furry footballs — “oh, how cute.” Now I consider them adversaries. The below mountain beaver photo is from the Oregon Audubon Society.

The vegetable garden has had an extremely productive year so far. The harvest list spans the rainbow: spinach, a few varieties of peas, golden beets, lots of lettuces, cauliflower, rainbow chard, broccoli, a few varieties of kale, fennel, leeks, a full bed of garlic, fava beans, purple and green cabbages, five varieties of carrots, three varieties of green beans, nine varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, crookneck squash, and a couple hundred onions. I’m surely forgetting something! Still on the vines and in beds and pots are pumpkins, winter squash, more summer squash, cabbages, carrots, beans, tomatoes, kale, broccoli, cukes, and yet more onions. When I noticed the high price of onions this spring, I chose to grow full beds of Rossa di Milano, WallaWalla, and Ailsa Craig varieties, each started from seed. I chop and freeze many, caramelize many, and braid others for storage.

Fruits harvested this summer include raspberries, strawberries, marionberries, and early Yellow Transparent apples. The first batch of applesauce is canned and stored. It was a bad year for cherries, with our chilly and drizzly spring knocking off blossoms. The marionberries made up for it, producing so well that I’ve frozen 18 pounds of berries.

This is the first summer since living here that I didn’t focus on dahlias. It’s been a nice break. Hard to believe I didn’t purchase even one new tuber this past year. Ones that I dug and replanted in late May along our low black fence began blooming in late July. They are faring better than the ones in the cutting garden, neglected for a few years in their raised beds, neither dug nor divided. Yet some are producing blooms and begging to be dug, protected, and treated more kindly come November. I also overwintered in the cool garage a few tubers still in their pots from the deck. More than half have returned to bloom well in those same pots and same soil this summer. What a time and resource saver!

I’ve saved the very best thing growing in Summer 2022 for last: Just before summer began, we were thrilled to welcome a treasured addition to our family, our third grandson, Wendell William. Wendell lives here at Coppertop with his parents and grandparents. He has spent his first three months, the first summer of his life, soaking up all the warmth and beauty the gardens have to offer. We are thankful!